Flying To Your Mexico Vacation Home Holiday —A Retrospective Opinion. Or, A Long Gripe About Alaska Airlines

For almost twenty years I’ve flown Alaska to get to my beachside hotel/ B&B / Mexico vacation rental villa the  Casa Delfin Sonriente  from central California.  Usually but not always on Alaska Airlines. I’ve also flown Aeromexico, Mexicana, United  and Continental airlines.  After over 100 trips now –easy—I Have some opinions I’d like to share. Mainly about the two airlines I’ve had the most experience with: Alaska and Mexicana airlines.

To begin with Alaska has the best safety record – an important fact for sure;  although,  if that was everyone’s first criteria we’d all just fly Quantus if we could where ever we went( no reported air difficulties or crashes to date ever) and this record is  the same for Alaska air with  exclusion of the media reported hefty fines that were levied on Alaska for ignoring FAA  maintenance and hazards  removal  recommendations  a year or two ago. These are relevant issues but again if crash data were” the factor “ as opposed to prices, itinerary, comfort, food, etc. then we would have to eliminate America, United, Continental, Delta, and every other lesser known airline that has been in the news over the last thirty years because of crashes.

Like many  people I can relax more on a flight with  Good food, liberal drinking, and friendly service to  help out. So one thing  I haven’t been good at ignoring had been years of Alaska air food services terrible food: as in ” would you like a cold dry sandwich or a cold dry hamburger for six dollars credit card only sir?( Long time Alaska flyers will remember although this has improved greatly  in the last year or two.) Then this was  followed by  the  removal of my san Francisco connection to Zihautanejo, followed  by the removal of Blankets against cold cabin temps on  flights, the tight seating,  the removal of magazines, the overpriced( recent options) for foot room, the never-ending marketing of credit cards, the credit cards only attitude,  and never once a movie. I am still flying Alaska, but only because there are almost no alternatives from where I live in the states anymore.

I used to fly Mexicana a lot but  a) they went out of business and b.) there was always a stopover in Mexico city that most people would not prefer.  But boy oh boy On Mexicana and Aeromexico  the tequila often flowed freely and for free ,the food was really good, the beer complementary, and the willingness to take pesos or dollars friendly.  Gee I wish they would return again or someone would make a run at Alaska air  to force better food, prices, and a movie.

The new yoga deck addition for yoga retreats at our Troncones villa

Yoga retreats are more and more popular and as a result I have come up with an interesting design to double the size of the yoga deck at our beachfront Bed and breakfast / rental villa on Troncones Beach. When Your Mexico surfing trip has worn down your muscles yoga and stretching combined with a very reasonably priced massage are a great way to keep an older guy like me surfing day after day and many of our surfing guests benefit. So along with the massage table on site we built a pool front beach view yoga deck extending out from the pools edge. But trying to accommodate twelve people doing yoga all at once was taking this to another level and so I had to come up with a plan for our first bigger yoga retreat that also includes added shade. I am installing the new addition  at the end of January and I am pretty happy about what I think is an ingenious plan. Since there was no easy way to extend the  deck out ward over the wall without redesigning the land scape and taking out the sea wall I decided to add wood deck that could be inserted over the infinity table  end of the pool  for when more space was needed and taken off in just a few moments by two people. It will sit  on  waterproofed joists and extend over the infinity table to add another 10’ x8’ feet of deck when needed. It looks good on paper and I will post pictures in February after the retreat. By the way we have space available Contact Casa Delfin Sonriente if you want to know more. 

Casa Delfin Sonrienteests
“Your beautiful vacation home/bed and breakfast inn on Mexico’s spectacular Pacific coast.”
Contact us by phone:
US: 831.688.6578

troncones beachfront holiday with jewish mexico flavor

The recipes in this article combining mexican specialties with Jewish comfort foods struck a chord with me from childhood summer vacations in Mexico city eating and watching dishes like these prepared in my Jewish grandmothers kitchen

Not your bubbe's Hanukkah feast: Mexican latkes and more

What Jew Wanna Eat
Why not try delicious Mexican latkes for a twist on tradition?
Hanukkah, the festival of lights, starts at sundown Tuesday night. Jews around the world will celebrate the ancient holiday with dreidel games, menorahs, and, of course, food!
Traditional Hanukkah food is all about the oil — to commemorate the oil that lit the first Chanukiah (special Hanukkah menorah) for eight nights, pretty much everything is fried.  As a card-carrying Hanukkah enthusiast, I have had more than my fair share of latkes and jelly doughnuts at Hanukkah parties. But Venezuelan chicken stew? Nutella beignets? Fast food latkes? These Hanukkah dishes are like nothing your bubbe (Yiddish for grandma) ever made!
Mexican latkes and sweet and sour brisket
Latkes made with corn, jalapenos, and cilantro? It surely isn't what my grandpa ate back in Poland, but Amy Kritzer, of What Jew Wanna Eat, loves these Mexican Latkes. "Living in Texas, we add spice to everything, and I thought jalapeno would be a perfect complement to the fried potato,” she said. “Turns out it is!" She gets her inspiration from reading blogs and chatting with other foodies, but says that her favorite tip is to "just wander around[the] local supermarket and discover local and seasonal ingredients." Make it an entirely Tex-Mex Hanukkah feast by serving these latkes with Krtizer's Texan BBQ-influenced brisket - a little bit of tradition, a little bit of Texan, and a whole lot of delicious.
For more Jewish-Mexican favorites, be sure to check out the blog Challa-peno, written by a mother-daughter cooking duo who demystify the Jewish food culture in Mexico, with recipes like flanken in salsa de chile de arbol
Nutella beignets
Since Hanukkah is all about the oil, doughnuts are a no-brainer, and sufganiyot, or jelly-filled doughnuts, are traditional Hanukkah fare. Ariela and Peter Pelaia, who run the blog Sweet Happy Life, took the idea one step further with their Nutella beignets. Inspired by a visit to New Orleans' famed Cafe du Monde, Ariela says this is the perfect Hanukkah dish because it’s a twist on tradition and allows kids to help out in the kitchen. As she puts it, "We were looking for ways our toddler could help prepare the dough. What's more toddler-friendly than playing with dough and scooping chocolate? Even very young toddlers can help with parts of this recipe." Get the full recipe on Kveller.
Venezuelan Arroz Con Pollo
No one can live solely on fried potatoes and dough, so when it’s time to complete the meal, forgo the standard pot roast and go for something a little out of the ordinary. Miriam Kesh's Venezuelan Arroz Con Pollo is something she ate on many Jewish Sabbaths when she was growing up in Venezuela. The daughter of a Sephardic Jewish mother who was raised in Nicaragua, Kesh remembers celebrating Jewish holidays with Venezuelan recipes, and this dish, filled with saffron, garlic and olives, is the perfect main course for those of you who are tired of the bland chicken and stringy beef you always eat at your mom's Hanukkah parties (sorry, mom).
Alsatian Hanukkah fruit bread
Joan Nathan might as well be the Joan of Arc of Jewish cooking — she is the patron saint and utmost authority on Jewish history, heritage and culture related to food. When she published her cookbook “Quiches, Kugels and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France,” she focused on the Jewish community living in all parts of France, and how French cooking techniques and ingredients blended with Jewish traditions and culture. Jews who live in Alsace, near the German border of France, make this Hutzel Wecken, a sweet fruit bread that is subtle and elegant — a far cry from the cocktail weenies in grape jelly that my grandmother made (but then, we aren't those fancy French Jews).
Fast food latkes
Some people might consider this a shanda (shame), but to thousands of broke, lazy college kids, it's pure genius. The folks at Fancy Fast Food put together a latke that looks gorgeous enough for the cover of any high-end cooking magazine, using just ingredients from a Wendy's drive-through menu. A few orders of hash browns, a couple of baked potatoes, some sauces and a sprinkling of organic chives "for a touch of irony" are all that are in these fast-food latkes. Hash browns never looked so great or so haymishe (having Jewish soul).
Sarah Spigelman
Kimchi latkes
Reading about all of these latkes really inspired me. How could I just be satisfied with plain old potato pancakes after reading about all these? So, I used my favorite Korean ingredients to create kimchi latkes that are spicy, savory, and definitely out of the ordinary. A little kimchi, a touch of gochujang, and a heaping addition of Jewish guilt make these chili-and-cilantro-laden latkes one of my favorite new fusion dishes.
Tell us, how do you jazz up your Hanukkah dishes?
Sarah Spigelman will eat anything that isn't moving too fast for her to catch. She believes that if the kimchi isn't spicy enough to make her eyes tear and her nose run, it really isn't a meal. 

Saving surf breaks

Whether you are interested in  Saving great surf breaks from ruinous development or just being ecofriendly this organization is worth knowing about for a lot of reasons. Check it out.

South African surfer Cass Collier at Jardim do Mar, Madeira.
Will Henry
South African surfer Cass Collier at Jardim do Mar, Madeira.

Protecting the World’s Best Rollers

Santa Barbara’s Will Henry and His Save The Waves Coalition

Thursday, December 15, 2011
Yosemite’s iconic Half Dome is to rock climbers what Rincon Point is to surfers — a place of unbridled beauty and internationally celebrated perfection. However, while Yosemite sits on a vast expanse of permanently protected government land, Rincon, despite its lofty status, remains very much vulnerable to ruin at the hand of man. Should a threat be posed to Rincon Point’s surf break, what can be done to fight to protect the wave? How will the community ensure that one of the world’s most famous and spectacular waves is kept from extinction?
Will Henry
Click to enlarge photo
Will Henry
Enter Save The Waves (STW), a worldwide watchdog on the lookout for surf breaks teetering on the brink of destruction with the singular purpose of protection. For the past decade, STW has been building a résumé of success, its members’ efforts helping chalk up victories for embattled surf breaks in Mexico, Nicaragua, Ireland, and Spain. Working as a facilitator between various surf-minded organizations, STW helps give voice to wave-preservation efforts in communities big and small to such a degree that, when the group succeeds, the importance of the “saved” surf spot is recognized from the local government level all the way to the United Nations. Now, our beloved Rincon Point, the Queen of the Coast who calls the Santa Barbara/Ventura County line home, is on their protection radar.
Santa Barbara’s Will Henry, an avid photographer and surfer who first fell in love with the Queen during his days at Carpinteria’s Cate School, founded Save The Waves in 2001 after running headfirst into what exactly the potential death of world-class waves looks like. Henry had made numerous visits throughout the late 1990s to the surf-rich island of Madeira, an unspoiled point-break paradise with European comforts (the archipelago is technically part of Portugal) and warm water off the northwest coast of Morocco. A relatively new surf discovery, the magic of Madeira and the healthy supply of powerful Atlantic Ocean swells instantly had Henry transfixed.
However, during a return trip in 2001, Henry arrived to find a growling bulldozer at Lugar de Baixo, a hollow and occasionally perfect right-hand point. “I recall pulling up to this pristine coastline only to see giant rocks being begrudgingly dragged off of the shore in an effort to build a seawall,” Henry remembers with disturbed urgency. As it turned out, a marina was being built right on top of the wave, and a small group of Madeira locals, outraged by the sure destruction of their surf spot, were essentially powerless to stop it.
“For me, this was unacceptable. I went back home to California, and I practically couldn’t sleep at night thinking about this beautiful wave that was going to be gone, the natural shoreline that was being obliterated,” said Henry. As a direct response to the situation in Maderia, Save The Waves was born. Soon enough, Henry returned to Madeira to help fight the project, and, after lengthy struggles with government officials, the marina was moved. However, the victory was, as Henry called it, bittersweet, for the seawall remained, and the wave at Lugar de Baixo has never been the same.
Will Henry
Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz has been named as the next area in California where a World Surfing Reserve will be dedicated in Spring 2012.
In the years since its founding, STW has engaged in collaboration with numerous coastal-preservation nonprofits, including the Surfrider Foundation and Surfers Against Sewage, not only to bring together marine-focused scientific minds toward supporting the surfing community, but also to show the world what a wave is worth in both social and economic terms, as well as to serve as a call to action to create a united global web of protection.
Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and the nonprofit 1% for the Planet, has been an instrumental supporter of STW. “They create World Heritage Sites, like Yosemite,” Chouinard said, “Why not have them for surf spots, so that the whole world sees the value of them and wants to protect them? There are very few famous great surf breaks, and these, including Rincon, should be formally recognized worldwide.”
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) lists World Heritage Sites as being of special cultural or physical significance. These special places are protected on an international level, as conserving them is in the interest of the global community of humanity.
Fighting for wave preservation and subsequent connected activities during the past decade has resulted in one of the most influential and proactive projects organized by Save The Waves to date — the World Surfing Reserves (WSR) program. An idea inspired by Chouinard, WSR identifies, designates, and preserves outstanding waves, surf zones, and their surrounding environments around the world. Serving as a global model based upon the World Heritage Sites procedures, it also calls upon the grassroots approach at a local level to take each important surfing wave from nomination to WSR fruition (Malibu was the first designated World Surfing Reserve in October 2010). Along with key partners National Surfing Reserves (NSR) Australia and the ISA (International Surfing Association), STW plans for these enshrinements to serve as a “UNESCO of surfing.”
If Rincon is to become a WSR, an area stewardship council needs to be formed to submit an application, which is available on the Save The Waves Web site (

Saving surf breaks

Whether you are interested in  saving great surf breaks from ruinous development or just being ecofriendly this organization is worth knowing about for a lot of reasons. Check it out

Slideshow of Aerial Photography of Guerrero

Here is a link to a fantastic slideshow of aerial photography of the state of Guerrero by photographer Erick Monroy on Flickr for the book Guerrero desde el Aire (Guerrero from Above).    Here is one of Troncones:


Troncones and Santa Cruz Beach Break Power

"Troncones and Saladita offer cool surf-style accommodations and a variety of waves. Exploring the coast and going off the beaten track is worth the effort."  The beachfront bed and breakfast hotel Casa Delfin Sonriente sometimes has the best Troncones surf right out your front door.     

There are some great surf pictures of Troncones from photographer Bruce Grimes in the photo gallery with this article and my other home of Santa Cruz is also included in this list of seven top winter surf destinations - I'm stoked! Feeling like one lucky surfer this winter!

 A great winter shot of my friend Craig Anderson ripping a Santa Cruz area beach break on a clear, cold winter day.