Outdoor living – the key to relaxation
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Welcome to Villa Alma Pacifica, a vacationing dream. This amazingly spacious, yet inviting and cozy, luxurious and stylish, yet comfortable and relaxed environment waits to please you.
Endless Pacific views
A Mediterranean-style Villa, Alma Pacifica overlooks the ocean and town below, perched on the hillside over one of the most charming areas of Cabo San Lucas. Every direction offers views of traditionally styled houses and the blue waters of the ocean - nothing but perfection as far as the eye can see.
Comfortable seating enjoys ocean view
Alma Pacifica offers volumes of open spaces filled with fixtures that are sure to please. Accompanied by private outdoor areas for enjoying the climate, its carefully crafted details make staying here truly an experience.
A primer on passports, Part I
A recent article in The Washington Post, written by Andrea Sachs, gives some valuable information about the process of getting a passport.
Applying for a passport can be a confounding experience. Here are some answers to common questions:
How much advance time do I need to apply for a passport?
It can never be too soon – whether or not you have a foreign trip planned. Obviously, with a passport in hand, you can leave with little notice. However, if your passport is nearing its expiration date, renew as soon as possible, because some countries require passports to be valid six months after a traveler's entry or return date. Another consideration is that some nations require passports to have two to four blank pages for visas and stamps.
Where can I find passport information?
The U.S. State Department is the official source, and its Web site clearly outlines the process, requirements and fees. It also includes updates, such as information on the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and the Electronic Passport.
Can I apply by mail?
Not if you're a first-timer. Mail-ins are for renewers whose old passports are not damaged, stolen or expired, and were issued within the past 15 years. The passport also must have been issued after your 16th birthday, and there must be no name change that you cannot legally prove.
To renew a passport, in a padded envelope send a DS-82 application form (available on the State Department's Web site, at post offices and at travel agencies) your most recent passport, two identical 2-by-2 inch passport photos and a $75 check made out to the U.S. Department of State. If your name has been changed, also include a certified copy of the legal document specifying the change, such as a marriage license, adoption papers, etc. Mail to:
National Passport Processing
P.O. Box 13408
Philadelphia, PA 19101-3408
If you use a service that does not deliver to post office boxes, send it to:
National Passport Processing
Attn: Department 13349
1617 Brett Road
New Castle, DE 19720
You can also request extra visa pages in your passport for no additional cost. Just attach a signed request for additional pages with your application.
How long does it take to get a renewed passport?
Usually 4-6 weeks. If possible, the department recommends applying outside the peak period of January through July. When you receive the new passport, they will return the old one as well. (More on Passports next month).
Emmanuel & son Yohan
Thanks for the wonderful feedback you send us when you return from your trips. Your comments help us and the property owners maintain high standards, and at the same time work to improve the quality of our service to you.
On the European front, we are happy to see that many people are already booking for 2009, which promises to be a fabulous year for travel! For those who are planning to spend Christmas in the Tropics, now is actually the best time to choose that ideal villa, before cold weather starts to settle in and we begin to dream of flying south.
Have a wonderful summer and keep on traveling!
Emmanuel de Ricard, President
Fresh and Inviting
Sliced Tomatoes with Avocado, Red Onion, and Parsley
3 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced
juice of 1 lemon
8 assorted heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
1⁄4 cup (2 fl oz.) extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
In a bowl, gently toss the avocado slices with the lemon juice. On a platter, arrange the tomato slices, slightly overlapping, in a single layer. Scatter the onion rings and avocado slices over the top. Drizzle with olive oil and any lemon juice left from the avocados. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and parsley. Serve at once.
Kathy In her vegetable garden
Mexican beaches are delightful!
Why not spend the Christmas / New Year's holidays in Mexico this year? Now is the perfect time to make your reservations, when you still have some great choices. Imagine how fun it would be to announce the plan for the family's end-of-the-year holidays during those July family reunions around the BBQ! For the next 5 or 6 months you can plan and dream of this special time set aside to fly south in the middle of winter, to celebrate the accomplishments of a busy year and relax with those you hold most dear.
Sensuous and seductive, Mexico's rich cultural traditions and raw, untamed natural beauty transcend the ages. Trample through jungles and high-plains deserts, explore ancient rites at mysterious Maya and Aztec ruins, or simply stretch out on a sun-kissed beach until mañana comes. Mexico is an enchanting destination, and one of today's best travel buys.
Mexico is just to the south of North America and is bordered to the north by the United States, to the west by the Pacific Ocean, to the south by Guatemala and Belize, and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. The language is Spanish, although most residents speak at least some English. Over half of the nation is at an altitude greater than 3300 ft (1000 m). The geography is very diverse, including desert, tropical jungle, high alpine vegetation, and even swamp. There is a volcanic mountain range, Aztec ruins to explore, and wonderful white sand beaches to enjoy. 21 million of the 106 million people live in the capital city of Mexico City.
The weather in Mexico is generally pleasant all year round, but October to May is considered more ideal for visitors (if you're not used to the heat). Since Mexico is part of Central America, and close to the equator, you need to know that December to February are generally the coolest, most pleasant months for vacationers headed for the coastal plains.
Cabo San Lucas
RentaVilla.com offers many beautiful villas for rent in Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. Because these are two of the more popular areas of the country, prices are elevated somewhat above the out-of-the-way, rural areas, but are still a huge bargain in today's economy.
On the west coast of Mexico is the glorious Baja California, a peninsula 700 miles long that extends south from Tijuana into the Pacific Ocean. It comprises the two states of Baja California and Baja California Sur. The gulf between the peninsula and the mainland of Mexico is rich in marine life. It offers excellent diving and fishing. It's here that elephant seals and whales come to breed and have their young, particularly the spectacular gray whale.
On the Baja Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are the main resort communities. Both offer miles and miles of excellent beaches. Puerto Vallarta is the largest town in the immense Bahia de Banderas resort area, only one hour and 10 minutes by air from Mexico City. It is situated on the largest natural bay in Mexico. Here you'll find over a hundred miles of coastline, with sandy beaches and facilities for parasailing, scuba diving, sailboarding, fishing, as well as golf and tennis. You can take boat excursions to explore the bay, or go into the mountains behind the bay on horseback. There's really something for everyone, young or old. ( Mexico part II next month).
Perfect for family gatherings
Cinque Terre Delight is an elegant farmhouse that dominates the bay of Monterosso in the heart of the Cinque Terre. Perched on the hillside, about 2-1/2 miles above the town, this magnificently restored property offers fantastic views and is perfect for larger groups wishing to explore the Cinque Terre. There are 5 bedrooms and 4 full bathrooms. The name Cinque Terre refers to five self-contained villages which seem to dramatically cling to the very edge of cliffs. These cliffs offer distinct terraced vineyards that produce a local dry white wine. Make sure to explore the local villages or take a boat or train ride to La Spezia-Genova.
The farmhouse itself dates back as far as the year 1200 and was originally a hermitage. It was later turned into a parsonage and upon request the small antique chapel that is attached may be visited. It may also be rented for fantastic weddings where an elegant reception may be set up in the garden area. The open surroundings and large size of this villa make it a perfect vacation spot for large family gatherings or for a group of friends. With a good variety of indoor and outdoor living spaces even large groups can either congregate or enjoy privacy and relaxation. Included is a parking space in Monterosso(something very hard to come by), which is only a five minute ride. For those who don't want to drive, the bus stop is only 700 yards away, just in front of a local restaurant. The villa is surrounded by a beautiful outdoor garden that is equipped with high quality outdoor furniture. The internal courtyard is also a special place for enjoying outdoor dinners. The house has been carefully and tastefully furnished with marble bathrooms, rare antique pieces, and fancy fabrics. The views from almost every room will take your breath away. This is definitely a high quality location which is truly hard to come across in the Cinque Terre area. Upon request, special dinners may be arranged in the garden by a local chef at a reasonable price.
"The villa was absolutely outstanding in every way. The setting and property were gorgeous and the caretakers could not have been more friendly and helpful. They cooked two amazing feasts during our stay!"
- MM, Auburn, Indiana.
"The villa was to die for, and get this: it had a cathedral attached to it! The villa had two "wings" with a beautiful courtyard between, so the girls slept in one wing, and Rentz and I in the other wing. It is so isolated and quiet way up a mountain, and in the clouds. The girls were a little freaked out that first night, but I told them you are sleeping on the top of a cathedral with The Virgin Mary standing over you, so nothing is going to get you. They seemed to be OK after that. The grounds were BEAUTIFUL. Everyday the caretaker brought in fresh flowers from the garden, and he would put a rose on our bed. Very cool!
Luigi and his wife were our chefs the night we stayed home, and the experience was the best ever."
-RD, Brentwood, TN.
For a Little Laugh
If women ruled the world:
Newsletter Editor: Kathy Hayes