Things That Matter

An American Died In The Dominican Republic In March But The Death Was Ignored And Treated As Natural Causes

Justin Aikin / Unsplash

More Americans have died while on vacation in the Dominican Republic. News agencies have been reporting on the increasing number of American deaths in the Dominican Republic and now one more death has come forward from March after being ignored.

A Georgia man’s death and under investigation months after dying in the Dominican Republic.

Credit: @LaurenPozenWSB / Twitter

Tracy Jerome Jester Jr., of Forsyth County, Georgia died in March while vacationing in the Dominican Republic with his sister. Allegedly, Jester started to complain of not being able to breathe after a day of sightseeing with his sister.

Jester Jr.’s mother told ABC News that his death certificate references “respiratory illness” as the cause of death.

Credit: @ABC7Chicago / Twitter

Jester Jr.’s mom told ABC News that he did have lupus. Yet, the man’s mother remembers her son telling her about a “nasty” Sprite he drank in the Caribbean country shortly before his death.

According to ABC7, Jester’s mother got a call from her son the night before his death and he told her about his activities, including the questionable taste of the soft drink he purchased at the hotel. While she told him that it might be a different flavor in the country, he insisted that something was odd about the drink.

At 4:40 a.m., she got a call from her daughter and the conversation was troubling.

Credit: @jockosims / Twitter

At this point, Jester Jr. was vomiting blood and telling his sister that he wasn’t able to breathe. Their mother instructed her daughter to call emergency services but there was a delay in someone assisting, according to ABC7.

There was no toxicology performed because of when the young man died in connection to the increase in tourist deaths.

It wasn’t until there was increased media attention to the deaths and three deaths at one hotel that toxicology screenings started to happen. So far, the FBI is performing toxicology screenings on the three victims from the same hotel.

Officials in both the U.S. and the Dominican Republic claim that there has been no significant increase in deaths.

Credit: @ulisesjorge / Twitter

People are trying to calm down the fears of everyone talking about the deaths in the Dominican Republic. While it is not abnormal for tourists to die while on vacation, the deaths of those in the Dominican Republic have left Americans stunned.

READ: Dominicans Are Taking To Social Media To Make Sure That People Stop Trying To Cancel The Dominican Republic

Tourists Are Flocking To This Tiny Mountain Village For A Trip On Mexico’s Magic Mushrooms

Culture

Tourists Are Flocking To This Tiny Mountain Village For A Trip On Mexico’s Magic Mushrooms

For almost 70 years, since Maria Sabina, also known as Santa Sabina, spread the culture around the ritualistic consumption of magic mushrooms in the Oaxaca highlands, the world has been fascinated by these special fungi. The region near Huautla de Jimenez, particularly places like San Jose del Pacifico, has since been swarmed with tourists in the months between July and October, both from inner Mexico and from overseas, who want to experienced the altered states of consciousness brought by one of nature’s most powerful secrets. 

So any story about Oaxacan magic mushrooms has to start with the legendary Maria Sabina, the godmother of all things trippy.

Credit: Giphy. @Hamiltons

Maria Sabina was a Mazatec curandera, or witchdoctor. She was well versed in the ancient arts of magic mushrooms and introduced the Western world to their consumption. She soon became a magnet for the rich and powerful who wanted to taste her psilocybin mushrooms. She was born in 1894 and died in 1985, so she saw the world change dramatically during her lifetime. 

She allowed foreigners into her healing evenings, known as veladas.

Credit: YouTube / Vice

She became legendary, as City A.M. reported in 2018: “It was here that, in 1955, R Gordon Wasson, a vice-president of JP Morgan and amateur ethnomycologist, consumed psilocybin mushrooms in a ceremony presided over by the healer Maria Sabina. The article Wasson subsequently wrote up for Life magazine – ‘Seeking the Magic Mushroom’ – transformed Sabina into a reluctant icon and caught the attention of scientists including Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary”. What followed is an enduring cult following of the plant. 

Mushroom tourism got a boost in the 1960s due to the high profile of some of Sabina’s visitors, who included The Beatles.

As EFE News Service reported back in 2007: “In the 1960s, the ‘high priestess of the mushrooms’ popularized this corner of Mexico located between the capital and Oaxaca city, a place visited by the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan at the height of the psychedelic era”. We mean, the place has basically been a Hall of Fame! 

Consuming magic mushrooms is an ancient, ritualistic indigenous tradition that remains officially illegal.

Credit: High Times

Spanish friars first reported the use of psychedelic mushrooms in the region. Though magic mushrooms are illegal today, the authorities tend to turn a blind eye. This is due to the centrality to the customs and traditions of the Zapotecs, the area’s dominant indigenous group. Children as young as six participate in the ritualistic ingestion of shrooms.

However, tourism disrupts this long lasting understanding and ritual has turned into business.

Credit: YouTube. Vice

If you decide to try them for yourself, beware as the region is now swarmed with fake magic mushrooms offered by scammers. Anyway, San Jose del Pacifico is a natural joyita in itself, and you might get high just by taking in the landscape!

The state induced by the mushrooms is supposed to get you in touch with nature: with the soil below your feet and the celestial bodies above your head.

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous. 

According to man named Andres Garcia, he was introduced to the ritual ingestion of mushrooms by his grandfather. Just outside of Huautla, the man experienced mushrooms several times. He told High Times: “The first time I tried mushrooms I was 7 years old. And each time after that was different; each time there were messages and messages. Communication with the earth, the universe, the moon, especially the energy of the moon. The mushroom shows you everything—about your errors, your problems, all the good you’ve done, all the bad you’ve done. It’s something personal.”

Even though mushrooms are widely available in Oaxaca they are not for everyone, specially not for those who disrespect the ritual and want to do mushrooms just for some mindless fun.

Credit: Musrooms-in-Oaxaca. Digital image. Own Mexico

The magic mushroom tourism industry has brought an steady income to Huautla de Jimenez, the original stomping grounds of Maria Sabina. As reported by Juan Ramon Peña in EFE News Services, “visitors are greeted when they get off the bus by boys who offer to help them found the hallucinogenic fungi”. The wide availability of mushrooms is un secreto a voces. However, each person’s brain chemistry is different and you need to have an experienced guide to help you on a mushroom-induced trip. 

And tourism has put the sustainability of the species at stake.

Credit: User comment on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_XnzIYmUYw

The lack of regulation translates into indiscriminate picking. Of course, traditional owners of the land are affected and that is just not fair. 

Magic mushrooms have a good rep, but they are also unpredictable.

Credit: 2037. Digital image. The Guardian.

Several recent studies indicate that magic mushrooms could have medical benefits in people suffering from mental health issues. As reported by The Guardian earlier this year in relation to a study conducted at Imperial College London: “Magic mushrooms may effectively ‘reset’ the activity of key brain circuits known to play a role in depression, the latest study to highlight the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics suggests”. However, this study was done in a controlled environment. Doing mushrooms can have unpredictable effects that some people have described as a “bad trip”

Note: the consumptions of magic mushrooms is illegal throughout Mexico and only specific Indigenous groups can consume them for spiritual purposes. We do not condone the consumption of illegal substances. This article is for informational purposes only.

Natural Wonders of Mexico

Things That Matter

Natural Wonders of Mexico

Hierve el Agua Natural Petrified Rock Formation in Oaxaca, Mexico / Pintai Suchachaisri / Getty Images

So, it’s the end of summer break, and it’s back to the daily grind. Or is it? After all, spring break will be on its way in no time! And you know what that means? You’ve got time to travel, babes. We know you want to go to Mexico, so we’ve saved you the hard work of researching where the best places are to go in Mexico to see it in its natural glory.

Find out where you should go next with our list of natural wonders in Mexico!

1. Lake Chapala, Jalisco

Instagram / @amberina_smiles

Being the largest freshwater lake Mexico has to offer, Lago de Chapala is one hella gorgeous body of water to spend your time around. It’s home to thousands of indigenous plants and animals, which means that it’s just teeming with unique wildlife that’ll liven up your ‘gram. That being said, you should be aware that the lake is also a sacred location for the Huichol Indians of Mexico’s southwest – so make sure you’re respectful!

2. Nanacamilpa, Tlaxcala

Instagram / @jexmar11

We’ve written about the wonders of Nanacamilpa before, so of course, we have to mention it here, too. It’s home to a forest just filled with fireflies when it’s warmer, setting the place aglow with their tiny butts. The locals are working on preserving the firefly population, so it’s best to follow the rules when you’re on tour for the fireflies: no using your phone, and no talking.

3. Hierve el Agua, Oaxaca

Instagram / @clickbusmx

Hierve el Agua has one of the strangest optical illusions that will have you questioning your existence. Is it a waterfall, or a rock formation? If you chose rock formation, you’d be right! The mineral pools in the area are absolutely gorgeous, and not too far from ancient canals that are thought to have been built by the Zapotecs around 2,500 years ago.

4. Copper Canyon, Chihuahua

Instagram / @coppercanyons

The name “Copper Canyon” is a little misleading – it’s not one, but a group of six, canyons. The copper part, though? No, actually, that’s also misleading. The area’s known more for its gold and silver deposits. It’s the copper-green of the canyon walls that give Copper Canyon its name. One of the best times of year to visit is usually just after the summer’s rainy season since that’s when the upper region of the canyon blooms with wildflowers – so it’s time to get the ball rolling and make your way there!

5. Marieta Islands, Nayarit

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Formed thousands of years ago by volcanic activity, the Isalas Marietas are a group of small, uninhabited islands just off the coast Mexico. It’s popularity as a tourist destination springs largely from two things: the famous “love beach”, or Playa del Amor, and the fact that the islands have an abundance of marine life just chilling around its waters. Fishing and hunting are prohibited by the Mexican government here, so leave your fishing gear at home.

6. Sumidero Canyon, Chiapas

Instagram / @miamadomexico

Cañón del Sumidero is a deep natural canyon which formed around the same time as the Grand Canyon in the US, meaning that if you’re looking for an impressive canyon in Mexico, this is it. Funnily enough, about 80 percent of the visitors to the Sumidero Canyon are Mexicans themselves, who go for the eco tourism and extreme sports. If you’re less keen on hanging around the water, you could try seeing the Ruins of Berlin, which are also located in the Sumidero Canyon.

7. Espíritu Santo Island, Baja California Sur

Instagram / @afelandrina

The last time that there was a proper human presence on Isla Espíritu Santo was estimated to be around 9,000 years ago. Whew. More recently, UNESCO declared the site a Biosphere Reserve in 1995, and for good reason: it’s the only known habitat of the black jackrabbit. Plus, the Ensenada Grande beach on Isla Partida was voted the most beautiful beach in Mexico by The Travel Magazine, making Espíritu Santo Island a must-see.

8. Rosario Sanctuary, Michoacán

Instagram / @laurelkent

Otherwise known as El Rosario, the sanctuary is part of a larger world heritage site known for hosting literally millions of butterflies. The reserve is dedicated to preserving its butterfly population, which means that the Rosario Sanctuary is only one of two colonies in Mexico that’s open to the public. Guided tours are on offer, so it means that you can learn more about beautiful butterflies that frequent the area.

9. Nevado de Toluca, State of Mexico

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Nevado de Toluca is the fourth highest peak in Mexico, after Pico de Orizaba, Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl. Classed as a stratovolcano, it boasts two crater lakes on the floor of the basin – the Lago del Sol and the Lago de la Luna – which were created by the volcano’s melting snow. While you’re in the area, look up the Nahuatl legends that explain the mythology behind why Nevado de Toluca looks the way it does.

10. Cenotes, Quintana Roo

Instagram / @mochilerosquintanaroo

These jaw-dropping, gorgeous sinkholes, created by the collapse of limestone rock, can be found throughout the state of Quintana Roo. That’s not all there is to see in Quintana Roo, considering that it’s got a coastline that serves as one of the best manatee habitats in the world. But, visiting the cenotes is a good start, if you really want to experience the beauty of Quintana Roo.

11. Potrero Chico, Nuevo León

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Rock climbing aficionados, this is the place for you to be! Potrero Chico boasts peaks which stretch to around 2,000 feet, and have some really amazing views at the top. While a lot of the area around Potrero Chico is considered a protected zone, it’s not an actual national park, which means that there’s not as much conservation happening in the area as what there could be.

12. Chinampas, Mexico City

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The Valley of Mexico still has plenty of chinampas, or island farms, that can be seen today. The agricultural practice has been around for almost a thousand years and is unique to the area. These days, produce such as lettuce, cilantro, spinach, cauliflower, celery, mint, chives, rosemary, corn and radish are grown in the chinampas. Whether you can actually try them straight from the chinanmpa is another matter!

13. Las Coloradas, Yucatán

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You’re probably less interested in the actual fishing village, and more interested in touring the pink – yes, pink – lake and salt flats surrounding Las Colaradas. It’s entirely possible that you’ll see flamingoes while you’re hanging around the lagoon, so keep your bird-watching binoculars on you at all times!

14. Basaltic Prisms, Hidalgo

Instagram / @mexicodestinos

The Basaltic Prisms of Santa María Regla are basically the Mexican version of Northern Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway, except that the Basaltic Prisms also have two waterfalls running through it. The natural canyon, which was created by the slow cooling of volcanic lava, has been modified with stars, walkways, and bridges so that tourists can easily access the Basaltic Prisms. It’s basically made for you to come and visit!

15. Tamul Waterfall, San Luis Potosi

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The Tamul waterfall is known for its gorgeous, crystal-clear water that’ll make you never want to leave. At 344 feet, the waterfall is one of Mexico’s largest, and is usually accessed by boat. How. Heckin’. Awesome.

So where will you be heading next? Tell us about it on Twitter – you can find it by clicking on the logo at the top of the page.