The destruction caused by the earthquakes in Mexico was devastating. If you want to support relief and rebuilding efforts, we have a list of relief organizations accepting donations. But if you’re looking for additional ways to make a difference, we just heard of one from Zachary Rabinor, Wendy’s Trusted Travel Expert for Mexico. Originally from New York City, Zach has lived in Puerto Vallarta for years, raising his family there and running his company Journey Mexico (which he started in 2003). He not only knows the lay of the land, but he’s part of the community there, which means that in times of crisis like this, he is very tuned in to where help is needed now and how to deliver it.
He emailed us this morning with some information and an interesting travel opportunity that will support aid workers: One of the areas hardest hit by the first earthquake and the latest aftershock was the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in the state of Oaxaca. Zach and his company have a special connection to that area, especially the village of Juchitan, because it is the family home of one of their staff members, Alejandro Gómez. Zach told us that the village suffered great damage from the quakes and that Alejandro’s own grandmother is unable to return to her home. As many travel companies and hotels have been doing, Journey Mexico jumped in to help their own, raising funds to rebuild Juchitan’s homes (so far, they have about US $2,600—and matched every dollar donated 2:1—and are hoping to raise more). “We send the funds to one of our most trusted guides in the region, who is organizing supplies and driving them from Huatulco to Juchitan,” Zach explained.
In addition, Zach told us that Journey Mexico has come up with a creative way to direct funds into the relief effort while simultaneously promoting Mexican tourism (which needs the help). They are running a small group tour in Oaxaca, which has 2 (out of 14) spaces open. Journey Mexico will donate 50% of the trip fee ($4,377/person) to relief efforts.
The trip is pegged to the Day of the Dead, an important Mexican festival in which the spirits of loved ones are welcomed back to earth. The colorful, vibrant celebration is often misunderstood by outsiders, but this tour aims to change that and open visitors’ eyes to other riches of the area: the UNESCO World Heritage city of Oaxaca, the sacred sites of Monte Alban and Mitla, lots of markets, and of course plenty of traditional food and beverages (including mezcal). “It’s an opportunity to experience one of Mexico’s most remarkable celebrations while helping the relief efforts in the Isthmus,” Zach said.
For those interested in making donations to the relief efforts, Journey Mexico has put together a list of options (and we have an additional list of aid organizations related to all the recent natural disasters). He also noted Journey Mexico is glad to receive donations toward its own work, “however, as we’re not a registered 501C3 non-profit institution, we are unable to provide documentation that will allow tax deductions for charitable giving.”