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Posted on: September 27, 2012 at 12:56AMAlthough the U.S. government does what it can to assist you in your safety while traveling abroad including offering the STEP Program and destination specific news and alerts, it is important that you are aware, that your safety is ultimately in your hands. For this reason, it is of the utmost of importance that you are aware of situations and issues regarding your destination before you travel. In order to make the right decision about planning your vacation, make sure you research your destination and know what issues may impact you before you leave. Be an informed traveler with us as we take a closer look at the most current travel updates affecting the country of Mexico. Mexico Travel Alerts and Warnings For years, the country of Mexico has been fighting an internal battle, one of good versus evil, impacting not only travelers but residents of this proud and beautiful country. Unfortunately, as the battles rage on in many of Mexico’s border states, the tourism industry and the people themselves, are the ones suffering. A recent update to the travel warning issued by the Department of State is trying to offer a bit more specific information regarding the safety issues in an effort to remove the stigma attached to travel to the country of Mexico as a whole. Issued on February 8, 2012, the current travel warning advises U.S. citizens to specific regions in the country as they can vary greatly from State to States. It begins by offering general conditions including the fact that millions of U.S. citizens visit the country of Mexico with little or no problems what so ever, and although it does not appear that the TCOs are directly targeting specific people, it is your job to pay attention and avoid certain areas for travel. In addition, it is also mentioned, that going to the country at all is your choice and as such your responsibility. For this reason, if you plan on traveling to the country of Mexico, make sure that you plan carefully before you leave. Ensure that the area you plan on visiting is not one that you are advised to avoid and make sure to travel responsibly and pay attention to your surroundings. There may always be issues regarding your safety while traveling abroad and so, it is important that you know how to protect yourself and be informed when you travel. If you are interested in learning more about the issues regarding travel to the country of Mexico or any other country abroad, visit travel.state.gov for more destination specific information. report a problem
Posted on: December 19, 2012 at 8:43PMMore Festive Travel Click here to find out more! Festivals of the world: where to go in December 15 Nov, 2012 Whirling dervishes in Turkey This article is an excerpt from A Year of Festivals. The top festivities for December are listed below. National Finals Rodeo Las Vegas Strip Las Vegas Strip by Jed Scattergood. Creative Commons Attribution Licence Location: Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas, USA Dates: Starts in the first full week of December It could be argued that Las Vegas is a never-ending festival, a glorified fairground where the lights never go down. But there are moments when even Vegas outshines itself, and the 10-day National Finals Rodeo (NFR) is prime among them. Read more. Quema del Diablo (Burning of the Devil) Antigua - Arco Antigua - Arco by Juan Camilo Trujillo. Creative Commons Attribution Licence Location: Guatemala City and Antigua, Guatemala Date: 7 December If you want some brownie points ahead of Christmas, there are few better ways than to help the Guatemalans burn the devil. In local traditions, the devil lurks in the corners of homes, beneath beds and among garbage. Each year, as a prelude to Christmas, homes are cleaned and on 7 December the rubbish is collected in the streets. Often, an effigy of the devil is thrown on top, just to really sort him out. Read more. Santarun Location: Newtown, Wales Date: First or second Sunday in December What better way to start the silly season than doing something really stupid in a Santa suit while trying to earn a place in Guinness Book of Records. On the Santarun, thousands of people slap on a jolly-red Santa suit and run a 7.2km course around the Powys town. Read more. Klausjagen (Chasing the Claus) Location: Küssnacht, Switzerland Date: 5 December Cast aside any preconceptions about the restrained nature of the Swiss as you watch them beat up on a fellow named Santa Claus. On the eve of St Nicholas Day, the good folk of Küssnacht, on the northern shores of Lake Lucerne, drag out their whips and cow bells for one of the country’s more unusual parades. Read more. Mevlâna Festival (Whirling Dervishes Festival) Sama (danse) de Derviches tourneurs Sama (danse) de Derviches tourneurs by Claude Valette. Creative Commons Attribution Licence Location: Sports stadium, Konya, Turkey Dates: 10–17 December In the Islamic world the 13th-century Sufipoet Celaleddin Rumi, or Mevlâna (Our Guide), is all but considered a saint. One of the world’s great mystic philosophers, his poetry and religious writings are among the most beloved and respected in Islam and beyond. Read more. L’escalade Geneva Geneva by Sam Wolff. Creative Commons Attribution Licence Location: Geneva, Switzerland Date: 11 December If you want a decent excuse to eat chocolate before Christmas, Geneva has come up with it. At l’Escalade, the city’s largest festival, marzipan-filled marmites en chocolat (chocolate cauldrons) are smashed and the sweet pieces are gathered up and devoured. Read more. Día de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe) Location: Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, Mexico City, Mexico Date: 12 December Our Lady of Guadalupe (or the Virgin Mary) is no ordinary heavenly being. In 1531 she appeared four times to an indigenous Christian convert, Juan Diego, on Cerro del Tepeyac (Tepeyac Hill). Over the centuries she’s been credited with all manner of miracles, and has become Mexico’s patron saint. Read more. Chaumos Weathered yet spirited Weathered yet spirited by manalahmadkhan. Creative Commons Attribution Licence Location: Kalasha valleys, Pakistan Dates: 10 days around the winter solstice By the middle of December in the three Kalasha valleys of Rumbur, Bumboret and Birir, the crops have been stored for the winter and it’s time to celebrate. The largest festival for the Kalasha people, who stubbornly resist the Islamic religion that surrounds them, it’s a time of visiting, feasting and dancing. Read more. Chriskindlesmarkt (Christmas Market) Location: Hauptmarkt, Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany Dates: Friday before Advent Sunday to 24 December In Germany ’tis the season to be shopping. Across the country, Christmas markets spring up throughout the month leading up to the big day. Most famous among them is the Nuremberg market, filling the city’s main square with almost 200 stalls and drawing in around two million people. Read more. Procession de San Lázaro (Procession of St Lazarus) The Great Theatre of Havana (Gran Teatro de La Habana) and a Ford Consul The Great Theatre of Havana (Gran Teatro de La Habana) and a Ford Consul by Brian Snelson. Creative Commons Attribution Licence Location: Santuario de San Lázaro, El Rincón, Cuba Date: 17 December For a pilgrimage worth bloodying your knees to see, head for El Rincón on the outskirts of Havana to watch (or join) up to 50,000 faithful descend en masse on the venerated shrine of Lazarus, a saint known for his ministrations to lepers and the poor. Read more. Dewgal (Crossing of the Cattle) Moschee von Djenné Moschee von Djenné by qiv. Creative Commons Attribution Licence Location: Diafarabé, Mali Dates: Late December or early January; dates aren’t set until November All across central Mali from November, visitors will see Fula herders and their vast herds closing in on the Niger River, readying themselves for one of West Africa’s most picturesque annual rituals. When the river levels are just right, the town of Diafarabé is transformed into a hive of activity, as hundreds of thousands of cows are driven southwards and across the Niger River to greener pastures. Read more. Fiesta de Santo Tomás (Feast of St Thomas) Location: Town plaza, Chichicastenango, Guatemala Dates: 13–21 December The highland city of Chichicastenango (Chichi) celebrates its patron saint in a rather death-defying way. For a week festivities are limited to typical festival events – parades, traditional dances, fireworks – but on 21 December (St Thomas’ Day) things look up, literally. On this day, wooden poles as high as 30m are raised in the plaza beside the Iglesia de Santo Tomás and the dance of the palo volador (flying pole) begins. Read more. Hogmanay (New Year) Near the bottom of Calton Hill Near the bottom of Calton Hill by Jenni Douglas. Creative Commons Attribution Licence Location: Edinburgh, Scotland Dates: 29 December–1 January For Scots, the New Year has always been a more important celebration than Christmas, and largely they’ve managed to convince the world of the same through the enormous Hogmanay celebrations that engulf Edinburgh. Read more. Festival of the Sahara Diplomats discover charm of Tunisian Sahara Diplomats discover charm of Tunisian Sahara by Magharebia. Creative Commons Attribution Licence Location: Douz, Tunisia Dates: 23–27 December While the Christian world is occupied with snowy, Christmasy scenes, Saharan nomads flock to Douz, Tunisia’s gateway to the mighty desert, for a celebration of their culture. The sandy town hosts camel races, hunting for rabbits with greyhound-like Saluki dogs, and fantasias. Read more. Reveillon (New Year’s Eve) Praia de Copacabana Praia de Copacabana by Rodrigo Soldon. Creative Commons Attribution Licence Location: Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Date: 31 December The second best way to see in the New Year is to join the party on Rio’s mighty Copacabana beach, where the spiritual and the secular come together for one amazing night. Rio’s biggest holiday after its spectacular and rowdy Carnaval sees around two million people pack the sands to welcome in the New Year – you won’t be laying out a towel and throwing a Frisbee on Copacabana beach this night. Read more. Need more festivals? Here’s a list of further events in December: Chichibu Yomatsuri (Chichibu, Japan; 2–3 December) Float festival that sees 20-tonne floats paraded up a steep slope. Konark Festival (Konark, India; 1–5 December) Traditional music and dance with the awesome Sun Temple as a backdrop. King’s Birthday (Bangkok, Thailand; 5 December) To celebrate King Bhumibol’s birthday, Bangkok is festooned with lights and an enormous fireworks display is held near the Grand Palace. Fête des Lumières (Lyon, France; several days around 8 December) France’s third city glows with sound-and-light shows to mark the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Boston Tea Party Re-enactment (Boston, USA; the Sunday before 16 December) Relive the 1773 moment when colonists protested tea taxes by throwing bricks of tea into Boston’s harbour. Gishi-Sai (Tokyo, Japan; 14 December) Discover your inner samurai at this commemoration of the ritual suicide of 47 ronin (masterless samurai), complete with a parade of warriors to Sengaku-ji, the ronin’s burial place. Giant Lantern Festival (San Fernando, Philippines; the Saturday before Christmas) A parade of 5m-high lanterns takes place in the so-called ‘Christmas Capital of the Philippines’. Mother City Queer Project (Cape Town, South Africa; dates vary in December) www.mcqp.co.za Massive gay dance party – you won’t be let in unless you’re dressed according to the chosen theme. Dong Zhi Festival (Hong Kong; 21 Or 22 December) Chinese thanksgiving festival to mark the onset of winter; it’s a day of family reunion. Noche de los Rábanos (Night of the Radishes; Oaxaca, Mexico; 23 December) Amazing figures carved out of radishes are displayed in the zócalo (square). Incwala (Swaziland; over the summer solstice, culminating on the fourth day after the full moon) www.sntc.org.sz The Swazi kingship ceremony includes collecting foam from the Indian Ocean and the slaughter of bulls. Fiesta de la Virgen del Rosario (Andacollo, Chile; 24–26 December) Pilgrims celebrate the Virgin of the Rosary, with horse racing, cockfights and Asian-inspired dance. Kaiserball (Vienna, Austria; 31 December) Kick off Vienna’s ball season and see in the New Year in pure elegance. See festivals in other months of the year here.