Things That Matter

This Firefly Forest Is A One Of A Kind Destination And It’s Just Outside Mexico City

Have you ever travelled somewhere on the advice of someone else? No advertising, no nothing – just the idea of a great experience? Well, the little town of Nanacamilpa in Mexico has had so many tourists stop by, it’s stoppedadvertising its main tourist draw to try to slow the flow of people into the hamlet. And, do you know why there are so many people coming to Nanacamilpa? Fireflies.

There’s more to this story than just bugs.

Instagram / @mexicotravelchannel

What Nanacamilpa promises is more than just seeing some insects in action. Well okay, actually, that’s exactly what it promises. Past the farmland that borders Nanacamilpa is a blanket of forest – and that’s where the fireflies can be found. It’s hard using just words to bring justice to the event that is firefly viewing. But suffice to say that if it’s the middle of the night, and all you’ve got for light is the night sky above you, seeing these tiny critters seemingly suspended and glowing all around you is an otherworldly experience.

If you plan on visiting the fireflies, you’ll need to follow a few important rules.

Instagram / @axlrz

Generally speaking, there is an etiquette for viewing fireflies. No talking, and no use of lights. That’s right, you’re not to use your phone while you’re out chilling with the fireflies: no taking selfies for the clout. Whether visitors obey these rules is another story – they’re only really enforced by requests from the local tour guides that take groups out to see the fireflies. And while, for the moment, the presence of people haven’t seemed to bother the fireflies too much, it remains to be seen what the long term impacts of this environmental tourism will have on the Nanacamilpa firefly population. 

Where the locals are concerned, the fireflies have had quite a positive impact on the community.

Instagram / @mexicosorprendente

If you were to visit Nanacamilpa just five years ago, you would have found the place pretty much empty. The only people in the area would have been locals. Nowadays, roughly 100,000 tourists visit between mid-June to mid-August to catch a glimpse of the area’s friendly fireflies, which has served as a windfall for what was previously a chronically poor region. In just 2013 alone, 51,000 visitors came to Nanacamilpa. Two years later, that number jumped to 77,000 – and most visitors were coming through the July-August period.

Firefly tourism has completely changed the lives of nearby residents forever.

Instagram / @fido.travel

In fact, for a while there, the locals struggled to keep up with the influx of travelers. 2013 saw food shortages in the Nanacamilpa restaurants, and any accommodation in the area had been completely booked out. This was fixed pretty quickly, though – hotels began appearing around town, and even in the forest. And, registered tour operators burgeoned from the four existing in 2012 to 33 in 2019. Which is just as well – last year saw 91,000 visitors to the fireflies! They’ve now become the state’s second most important draw, behind cultural tourism. Needless to say, business is booming, and firefly tourism has changed the lives of Nanacamilpa locals for the better.

But, there is a downside to this influx of tourists. 

Instagram / @solracmarban

It’s never so cut and dry with these kinds of things. As much as it’s great that Nanacamilpa is seeing money come its way, environmental scientists have expressed concerns about the impact visitors might have on the fireflies. However, there’s so much that’s unknown about the fireflies, that it’s hard to make any concrete judgments about what’s best for the little glowing bugs. It’s yet to even be determined what kind of impact light and chemical pollution has on the fireflies – or if they have an effect on them, at all.

Sadly, with so many visitors, the firefly population is under threat.

Instagram / @enmodoavionmx

That being said, there is a major threat to the Nanacamilpa firefly population that everyone should know about: the female fireflies … can’t fly. We know – it’s in the name, firefly. Anyway, obviously both females and males are needed for the fireflies to continue populating the region with their glowing butts. The risk in the females being unable to fly is that it’s a lot easier for unsuspecting visitors to accidentally step on the tiny fireflies. Even worse – without the ability to fly, they don’t have the capacity to easily escape from harm.

It’s not all bad news, though. Firefly tourism has become important in other countries, such as Taiwan, Thailand, Japan and Malaysia. It’s entirely possible that, even though different variations of fireflies live there, they may have developed their own model for balancing conservation with tourism. Let’s just hope that something more substantial can be implemented in Nanacamilpa to protect the fireflies, before it’s too late.

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Mexico Wants American Tourists Despite Ongoing Covid Pandemic

Culture

Mexico Wants American Tourists Despite Ongoing Covid Pandemic

VV Nincic / Flickr

Covid-19 has ended a lot of stuff for a lot of people. The most obvious change has been to international travel, especially for Americans. As the virus has spread widely across the U.S. countries have put a halt to allowing American tourist within their border, but not Mexico.

Covid-19 has severly depreciated the American passport.

Once capable of unlocking so many countries, the U.S. passport is no longer helping Americans travel abroad. Instead, the American passport has now become a hindrance for global travelers. Most countries have placed restrictions on American tourists making the U.S. passport one of the weakest.

The countries banning the U.S. are doing so because of the state of the virus in the country.

There have been more than 7 million cases of Covid-19 and more than 200,000 deaths from the virus. The U.S. remains the worst hit country and the global epicenter of the deadly virus. Many blame the lack of a national strategy to properly close down, test citizens, and contact trace those who have been exposed as the reason the virus has been so devastating in the U.S.

The various travel bans have kept families apart.

Other nations went into mush stricter lockdowns that the U.S. and got a handle of the virus. European countries have gotten the virus under control after months and the U.S. continues to see a large number of new cases daily.

One of the countries allowing Americans to visit is Mexico.

Mexico is heavily reliant on the money made from the tourism industry. According to official statistics, the tourism industry is the third-largest contributor to the country’s GDP. Major tourist destinations like Cabo and Cancún saw dramatic dips in tourism leading to national and local figures to sound the alarm. According to The Washington Post, the questions was posed about when to allow the tourists from the U.S. back, not should they.

Los Cabos is one of the hardest-hit tourist destinations.

The tourist destination saw a severe decline in tourists during one of the busiest times of the year. According to The Washington Post, the resort city has lost 80 percent of its revenue because of Covid-19. The virus has brought financial devastation to people across the world and the cities they live in aren’t immune to failing themselves.

“It’s life or death for us,” Rodrigo Esponda, the head of the Los Cabos tourism board, told The Washington Post. “There’s nothing else here. No industrial production. No farming or commercial fishing. It’s tourism or nothing.”

Yet, Los Cabos should be a warning sign to the rest of Mexico.

Cases in Baja California, the state where Los Cabos is located, saw new Covid case numbers triple from 50 a day to 150. The increase in infections is to be expected as the state rolled out the welcome mat for Americans coming to visit the resort town.

“There are some residents who say, ‘Why put my family’s life in danger by inviting more visitors, restarting more flights?’” Luis Humberto Araiza López, tourism minister of Baja California Sur, told The Washington Post. “It’s a delicate line between trying to support public health and economic growth.”

Despite this, there are some countries that Americans can travel to.

The countries Americans can travel to without Covid restrictions are Albania, Belarus, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Mexico, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, and Zambia. As the world continues to open up, Americans who travel abroad are waiting for the U.S. government to get the virus under control. Until then, the U.S. passport is not the same it used to be.

READ: The U.S. Passport Was Once The World’s Strongest, It’s Fallen To 25th Place Thanks To Failed Leadership Amid Coronavirus

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You Can Order A ‘Taco Vacuna’ And ‘La Cura’ At This Covid 19-Themed Taqueria

Culture

You Can Order A ‘Taco Vacuna’ And ‘La Cura’ At This Covid 19-Themed Taqueria

Tacovid: SaborViral / Facebook

Pandemia. Brote. Vacuna. La Peste. Although you may find these terms in a glossary about the Covid-19 outbreak, that’s not what these words actually refer to. Instead, they’re options on the menu at a Mexican taqueria called “Tacovid: Sabor Viral”, a perhaps surprisingly very successful Coronavirus-themed restaurant.

Although to many having a Covid-themed taqueria may seem morbid or disrespectful or perhaps gross – I mean who wants to order a plague taco? – the taqueria is making light of a very serious situation with humor. Something that several other businesses have done since the pandemic began.

”Tacovid: Sabor Viral” is the Mexican taqueria going viral – pun intended – for its Covid-themed menu.

Ok…virus-themed tacos don’t exactly sound appetizing. Especially, as we’re still in the midst of a very real pandemic. But one 23-year-old man in the Mexican city of León, who was forced to close down his dance studio because of Coronavirus, is counting on a Covid-themed restaurant – and so far he’s been surprised by its success.

Brandon Velázquez converted his dance academy into a taquería at the end of July, and given that Mexico and the rest of the world was – and is – in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic decided to call it Tacovid Sabor Viral.

“I had to close my dance academy during the pandemic [but] then an opportunity arose to return to the same place, however, people still did not go out for fear of getting infected.” he told the newspaper El Universal.

“I had always wanted to open a taqueria and, at the end of July, the opportunity to do so occurred. It was how I took advantage of the moment to create this business with a coronavirus theme,” he added.

Items on the menu are named after – you guessed it – the Coronavirus and don’t sound like anything you’d willfully choose to order.

The young entrepreneur detailed the name of each dish, taking full advantage of the Coronavirus theme.

“We have around 12 different dishes, among them are the ‘Tacovid’; we have ‘Forty’, ‘Quesanitizing’, ‘Pandemic’, ‘Outbreak’, and many others. The price varies depending on the dish you order,” he told El Universal.

In addition to themed dishes, the servers also fit the Coronavirus-theme.

When the pandemic hit Mexico, the government urged Mexicans to observe “su sana distancia” and the now common mascot – Susana Distancia – was born.

“In the restaurant, a waitress dressed as a nurse with the name of ‘Susana’ takes orders and works the tables, referring to the healthy distance campaign that was implemented as a precautionary measure,” he says.

To his surprise – and honestly mine as well – the taqueria has been very successful.

Brandon told El Universal that he’s been pleasantly surprised by the support he has received from customers. “I’m surprised because we have had really good sales, despite the circumstances, we have had a lot of support by the community and we’ve already expanded to have two locations.”

“Customers are funny about the theme we are using in the business, and they are delighted with the dishes we are offering. They enjoy it and have a good time,” added Brandon.

Things are looking so good for Brandon and his Covid-themed taqueria, that he’s looking to expand the food business and add new dishes to the menu. “There is always the idea of new names for other dishes that we want to include in the menu.”

Brandon also said that he’s looking to build out a business model so the restaurant could expand to other parts of the country as a franchise.

Apparently, people are really into Covid-themed foods, as this isn’t the first place that a shop as cashed in on the pandemic. Back in April, a panadería was selling out of Covid-themed baked goods so quickly, they couldn’t keep the shelves stocked.

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