Things That Matter

These Two Women Shared Their Stories About Traveling And Falling In Love Abroad

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Booking a flight to another country and immersing yourself in the local culture can give you some serious 😍 eyes. New sights, new sounds, perhaps even new phrases or a new language can all heighten the senses and stir up the heart strings. From a coming-of-age story of love and self acceptance, to realizing that sometimes falling in love abroad is dreamier than moving together abroad, these two women share stories of falling in love in Latin America and with Latinos traveling abroad.

A family friend sparks an incredible romance that helped her move on to her next chapter.

Eleven years ago I was 21 years old and slowly approaching what I have jokingly referred to as my “quarter life crisis”. Since I had not attended college, I found myself dissatisfied with my fallen-into career. I also had now outgrown my only relationship, which stemmed from high school. Feeling lost, I was anxiously trying to find my way. It was during a family trip to Mexico upon arrival at a party, that I saw my father’s closest friend, Jorge and his son Eduardo. It had been years since I last saw them. When I was younger I enjoyed visiting Mexico and spending time with Eduardo’s family. Admittedly, I had a small crush. However since he was 5 years older, that’s all it was. He was very attractive and athletic, having excelled competitively in the tennis community. Although we were now both in our 20s, as we talked and caught up I realized that some things really hadn’t changed. Eduardo always reminded me of a young Enrique Iglesias, whose mocha colored skin and bright smile presented a stunning contrast. This combo somehow still made me blush. We exchanged information, and maintained contact once I returned home. Eventually a romance ensued, but more importantly a friendship. We were both excited when he received a job offer in Tijuana, as that meant a two-hour drive versus a two-hour flight. This gave me the opportunity to show him around my hometown of Los Angeles, where we created some great memories. Eventually the romance slowly fizzled down mainly due to our different paths. However, we remain close friends. I hadn’t realized how much my self-esteem was being impacted by my circumstances. In a time where I was beginning to experience self-doubt in my abilities, he provided me with excitement and confidence that sparked the fuse which propelled me into my next chapter.”

—Submitted by *Alexzia

A college fling in Cuba fizzled out while moving to Spain.

Doesn’t everybody? 😉 Fell in love with a Cuban during graduate studies in anthropology in Havana. He had a job offer in Spain. I figured I’d finish my thesis and go teach English in Argentina. His sister suggested I do that in Spain instead, seeing how when you date a Cuban, you kinda date the whole family and they were all headed to Spain eventually. The breakup started right after he got to Madrid, but by then I was getting little job leads and a chance to study journalism there – in Spanish. I went anyway. We ended before my arrival, tried to muster a friendship but it was weird – and also hard, both of us rather alone as immigrants in a foreign country. I would learn through other Cuban connections that lots and lots of relationships don’t survive such migrations, even Cubans with Cubans because the change is so radical. I graduated from El País School of Journalism about a year and a half later. He married and had a baby almost immediately. —Submitted by Julienne


READ: J.Lo And A.Rod *Fall In Love* While PR and DR Brawl On Twitter

Have you ever fallen in love while traveling in Latin America? Share your stories with us!

The Natural Wonders Of Mexico Are Straight Up Out Of A National Geographic Dream

Things That Matter

The Natural Wonders Of Mexico Are Straight Up Out Of A National Geographic Dream

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Trump Administration Just Deported 120 Cubans On A Single Plane

Things That Matter

Trump Administration Just Deported 120 Cubans On A Single Plane

@JusticiaLealtv / Twitter

We can’t imagine what the energy or conversations might have felt like on the ICE plane that deported 120 Cuban immigrants in one fell swoop. Many of the deportees had reportedly passed credible fear interviews, during which they showed proof of the violence and persecution they would face if they were sent back. This deportation is one of the largest deportation missions of Cuban immigrants in years. 

While Trump is the current president allowing for deportation, President Barack Obama is responsible for removing deportation protections from Cuban nationals, an agreement signed during his last days in office.

“South Florida should be up in arms,” immigration attorney, Randy McGrorty said.

Credit: Catholic Legal Services Archdiocese of Miami, Inc. / Facebook

One of his clients is a Cuban national who sought asylum in the U.S. through the Mexico border. McGrorty told The Miami Herald that his client was on that flight to Havana, but an eleventh-hour paperwork glitch allowed him to be removed from the plane. In a statement, ICE said that “ten special response team operators” were assigned to the flight given “the charter flight’s high number of removals” in order to “ensure adequate mission security onboard the flight.”

The majority of those on the flight didn’t have assigned attorneys.

Credit: @Power1051 / Twitter

The Miami Herald cites “ICE sources” who have said that the majority of those on the flight had passed credible fear interviews. Those interviews are simply the first entry point to being granted permission to apply for asylum, but it doesn’t mean they’re granted asylum. We can’t predict if they would have been deported had they been given attorneys. We don’t know whether the deported group were made up of recent migrants or long-time residents.

President Obama signed the “Joint Agreement” during his last week in office that requires Cuba to accept all deported Cuban nationals.

Credit: @Niketa2007 / Twitter

Word for word, the document says, “The United States of America shall return to the Republic of Cuba, and the Republic of Cuba shall receive back all Cuban nationals who … are found by the competent authorities of the United States to have tried to irregularly enter or remain in that country in violation of United States law.” Effectively, it ended the “wet foot, dry foot” policy that allowed Cubans to be granted protections the moment they were on U.S. land. Those Cubans had the opportunity to gain legal residency.

Before the “Joint Agreement,” Cuba had a history of rejecting deportees from America, forcing the U.S. to fly the deportees back.

Credit: @albertodelacruz / Twitter

The ICE statement continues to explain that, “the large removal charter is made all the more significant given Cuba’s longstanding status with respect to accepting the return of Cuban nationals ordered removed from the United States and abiding by key provisions of the U.S.-Cuba Joint Statement. Cuba has a long history of being deemed an uncooperative country.”

As the U.S. relations with Cuba have changed, Cuba continues to remain a communist Castro regime.

Credit: @velvethehammer / Twitter

Fidel may have perished, but the regime remains strong. “Let’s see what happens to them upon arrival,” McGrorty told The Miami Herald. “Are they going to have access to employment, a place to live? Are they going to have benefits that the other Cubans have? Are they going to face persecution?” Cuba has historically rejected accepting its nationals back because of their public criticism against Castro, or even because they’re age might be a burden on the country’s healthcare. 

More than 37,000 Cubans in the U.S. have been given orders of removal.

Credit: @noticias24 / Twitter

Several attorneys confided in The Miami Herald on the basis of anonymity to raise awareness for a settled community in the U.S. facing persecution. Their clients have lived in South Florida for decades, remaining in compliance with their attendance orders from ICE, and, today, are sitting in detention centers awaiting a decision from Cuba on whether it will accept them back. Cuba can take as long as 90 days to make that decision, given that “The Joint Agreement” only applies to those Cuban nationals that immigrate after the January 12, 2017 accord. 

Cubans make up the largest number of asylum seekers right now.

Credit: @JusticiaLealTV / Twitter

Venezuelans and Nicaraguans take the second and third place in asylum-seeking. Compared to Trump’s first year in office, there have been 4.5x as many Cubans deported so far this year. It doesn’t matter how long Cuban nationals have been in the U.S. If they have a criminal record, they are likely going to be deported, and, now, suddenly, Cuba may actually accept them.

READ: More Cubans Are Being Detained And Deported One Year After ‘Wet Foot, Dry Foot’ Was Eliminated