TIME Crime

Escaped Prisoners Initially Planned to Drive to Mexico

Joseph D'Amico
Mike Groll — AP New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico, left, speaks during a news conference as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo listens, following the capture of fugitive David Sweat on Sunday, June 28, 2015, in Malone, N.Y.

But the destination changed when their getaway ride backed out

(MALONE, N.Y.) — Two convicted murderers who escaped from prison and eluded a massive manhunt for three weeks had initially planned to drive to Mexico but headed toward Canada on foot when their ride backed out, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.

David Sweat, 35, was running from a state trooper Sunday afternoon when he was shot twice in the torso less than 2 miles from the Canadian border. Sweat was in serious condition Monday at a hospital.

Cuomo told the Capitol Pressroom radio program that Sweat was starting to relay information to police about his escape from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora on June 6 with fellow inmate Richard Matt, who was killed Friday afternoon.

Prosecutors have said prison tailor shop employee Joyce Mitchell got close to the men and agreed to be their getaway driver but backed out because she felt guilty for participating in the escape. Cuomo provided new details Monday.

“They would kill Mitchell’s husband and then get in the car and drive to Mexico on the theory that Mitchell was in love with one or both of them,” Cuomo said. “When Mitchell doesn’t show up, the Mexico plan gets foiled, and they head north toward Canada.”

Matt had previously spent time in Mexico.

Cuomo said the two men split up about five days ago. Matt had blisters on his feet and Sweat felt his 49-year-old escape partner was slowing him down, Cuomo said.

After Sweat was shot, he was arrested, stabilized at a nearby hospital in Malone and then airlifted to the trauma center at Albany Medical Center.

Sweat was upgraded from critical to serious condition after doctors determined overnight that he didn’t need immediate surgery. He’s expected to stay at the hospital for a few days while his condition stabilizes, according to hospital officials.

Cuomo told CNN that Sweat had a bag containing maps, tools, bug repellent and Pop Tarts when he was shot by Sgt. Jay Cook in a farm field in Constable, about 30 miles northwest of the prison. Sweat was unarmed at the time.

Matt was killed Friday afternoon in Malone, just south of Constable, while holding a shotgun.

Sweat had been serving a sentence of life without parole in the killing of a sheriff’s deputy in Broome County in 2002. Matt was serving 25 years to life for the killing and dismembering of his former boss.

The prisoners used power tools to saw through a steel cell wall and several steel steam pipes, bashed a hole through a 2-foot-thick brick wall, squirmed through pipes and emerged from a manhole outside the prison. On a cut steam pipe, the prisoners left a taunting note containing a crude caricature of an Asian face and the words “Have a nice day.”

Mitchell and another prison worker have been charged with helping them.

Clinton correction officer Gene Palmer, charged with promoting prison contraband, tampering with physical evidence and official misconduct, is due in court Monday. His attorney has said he will plead not guilty.

Officials said Palmer gave the two prisoners frozen hamburger meat that Mitchell had used to hide the tools she smuggled to Sweat and Matt. Palmer’s attorney said he had no knowledge that the meat contained hacksaw blades, a bit and a screwdriver.

Mitchell pleaded not guilty June 15 to charges including felony promoting prison contraband.

Sweat’s capture ended an ordeal that sent 1,300 law enforcement officers into the thickly forested northern reaches of New York and kept residents on edge for weeks.

“The nightmare is finally over,” Cuomo declared at a Sunday news conference.

Cook, a 21-year veteran, was alone and on routine patrol when he stumbled upon Sweat. He gave chase when Sweat fled and decided to fire fearing he would lose Sweat in the trees, state police said.

State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said the men may have used black pepper to throw off their scent from the dogs that were tracking them; he said Sweat’s DNA was recovered from pepper shakers found at one camp.

Sweat will be charged with escape, burglary and other charges, said Andrew Wylie, Clinton County district attorney. He and Matt are suspected of breaking into some of the region’s many cabins during their time on the lam. Wylie said prosecutors would wait for Sweat to recover before charging him.

___

Associated Press writers Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, New York, and Deepti Hajela in New York City contributed to this report.

TIME Mexico

Uber Drivers Hunted Down in Mexico as Taxi Unions Fight Online Competition

MEXICO-TRANSPORT-TAXI-UBER-PROTEST
Yuri Cortez—AFP/Getty Images Taxi drivers take part in a protest against the private taxi company Uber for alleged unfair competition, in Mexico City on May 25, 2015.

Taxi drivers have attacked their online rivals and smashed their cars

Driving through this megacity from a rundown slum to an upscale business hub, David Garcia takes precautions to not be recognized as an Uber taxi operator. He keeps his smart phone on his lap rather than fixed under the mirror where it can be seen from the street. If police stop him, he says he is a private chauffer. He avoids going to certain hotspots where he says that traditional taxi drivers have attacked his colleagues. He is concerned about the car getting damaged. But he is also worried about staying in one piece himself.

“The taxi drivers can be really aggressive. They can block you in and break your mirrors and scratch the car. They attacked a colleague by a taxi stand. They smashed all his windows and beat him,” says Garcia, a 27 year old who has been driving an Uber for four months. Yet despite the hassle, Garcia says he likes the work. “You have good chats with the passengers. And I like driving. The taxi drivers don’t scare me.”

This anger towards online cab services such as Uber and Cabify has hit the headlines here in recent weeks as leaders of traditional taxi drivers have decried what they say is unfair competition. Taxi associations have held a series of demonstrations calling for the government to clamp down on the new services, which people call from their smartphones. One leader even promised to “hunt down” the digitally registered cars. “We are not going to leave (Uber cars) alone. We are tracking these colleagues and hunting them down,” Esteban Meza, who represents about 13,000 cabbies, told the El Universal newspaper. “Without doubt this is going to generate big trouble.”

The meteoric rise of Uber, from a service in San Francisco to a billion-dollar global business, has sparked disputes from Delhi to Rome to Manila. It is perhaps unsurprising that they have got a little rough in Mexico, where conflicts between rival taxi services have a history of spilling into violence. In 2013, a cameraman took this video of a bloody battle between drivers of cabs and motor-taxis in the southern state of Oaxaca in which a man was killed.

Uber has also come into a big but crowded market for taxis in Mexico City. The sprawl with 20 million residents already has tens of thousands of traditional licensed cabs, alongside thousands more motorbike taxis, bicycle taxis, and so-called “pirates” or cabs without the correct papers. Licensed cabs complain they have to pay expensive rates for their permits, which Uber drivers shirk. Mexico City transport authorities also require traditional taxi drivers to take courses, touching issues such as anger management. And they make the cabbies paint their cars in a uniform recognizable color, adding yet more outlays. They are currently making thousands of taxis paint their cars pink. With the costs and competition, drivers often hit the smoggy gridlocked streets for 14 hours a day to make ends meet.

At one taxi stand in the upscale Polanco neighborhood, drivers complained that Uber cars are aggressive as they steal their customers. “They drive right into our stand’s space to pick up their passengers,” said Ramon Trujillo, as he operated the radio and ate a plate of tacos. “You ask them politely to move and they swear at you.” Worse still, he said, Uber had hit them in their wallets, making business fall by about 40% this year. “This is a foreign service that is taking our money,” Trujillo added. A percentage of the Uber fees go the California-based corporation.

Uber has especially hit Mexico City’s upscale neighborhoods as it carves out its niche among young professionals. More than 300,000 people in the city have downloaded the app, with which the registered cars can be seen on the app as thick as bees in some trendy areas. The service appeals by allowing customers to pay with plastic, get online receipts and trace their chauffeurs. This reduces fear of a random taxi driver on the street mugging them – a problem that plagued Mexico City in the past, and still happens occasionally.

Mexico City authorities have zig zagged on how they will deal with the Uber challenge. Transport officials met with taxi leaders and promised to look at regulation of the online taxi services. However, Mexico City mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said there would be no arrests of Uber or Cabify drivers in the meantime. In Mexico State, which incorporates much of the city’s slums and suburbs, the governor Eruviel Avila said that Uber is “not formally authorized.” Yet, it is still easy to digitally hail down a taxi there.

Frustrated with the lack of action, taxi leaders announced last week that they would create a National Front of Taxis to oppose the online services, which are spreading to other Mexican cities. They promised to challenge the digital competition both in the courts and on the street. However, their angry words in the media do little to dissuade drivers such as Garcia. He says he earns 2,300 pesos – or $150 – a week driving an Uber, more than he did in a previous job working on a stall and has no intention of turning back. “It is fine the taxi drivers speak out,” he says. “They are just giving us publicity.”

TIME Mexico

Hurricane Blanca Weakens as it Nears Mexico’s Coast

Mexico Tropical Weather hurricane blanca
Eduardo Verdugo—AP Men tow a boat to higher ground, as they prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Blanca in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, June 6, 2015.

The unpredictable storm had strengthened rapidly to a Category 4 on Saturday

(CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico) — Hurricane Blanca was weakening even as it roared toward Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula on Sunday, and authorities put thousands of troops on alert and businesses boarded over windows ahead of its arrival.

The unpredictable storm had strengthened rapidly to a Category 4 storm on Saturday before weakening to Category 1 by Sunday morning.

Blanca is expected to approach Baja California’s southwestern coastline later Sunday and move near or along the coast in the evening and on Monday. The director of Mexico’s National Water Commission, Roberto Ramirez, said he was concerned about Blanca’s “erratic” behavior and warned residents along the coast to be prepared for intense rains.

In Baja California, 2,000 army troops and 1,321 marines were on alert, as well as emergency responders and power line technicians, said Civil Protection director Luis Felipe Puente.

He said there is currently a 70 percent hotel occupancy rate in Los Cabos and warned tourists to be attentive to any advisories issued by authorities

Some businesses and banks on Saturday were seen hammering boards over their windows in preparation for Blanca’s arrival. People began forming lineups at gas stations to stock up on fuel.

Blanca’s maximum sustained winds had decreased Sunday morning to near 90 mph (150 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. The hurricane is centered about 180 miles (290 kilometers) south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas and is moving north-northwest near 12 mph (19 kph).

A hurricane watch is in effect for an area from Cabo San Lucas to Santa Fe. A tropical storm warning is in effect from Loreto to Punta Abreojos, including Cabo San Lucas.

Puente said he saw no reason to suspend local elections scheduled to be held on Sunday.

TIME beauty

This Is the Country Where People Are The Happiest With the Way They Look

beauty happiness woman mexico
Getty Images

Mexicans, you're beautiful and you know it

Of all the peoples of the world, Mexicans are the happiest with their appearance.

Some 74% of Mexicans say they are “completely satisfied” or “fairly satisfied”with their appearance, according to a massive study by market research group GfK, which asked more than 27,000 people, aged 15 or over, in 22 countries around the world what they thought of themselves.

Turkey (71%) came in second, with Ukraine and Brazil in joint third place (both 65%). Also scoring highly are Spain (64%) and Germany and Argentina (both 62%), and the U.S. (60%).

But GfK’s wide-reaching survey also found out that many nationalities aren’t happy with their looks at all. The Japanese are the most unhappy, with 38% of Japanese people saying they are “not at all satisfied” or “not too satisfied,” followed by around 20% of British, Russians and South Koreans.

Perhaps breaking a few stereotypes, GfK found that teenagers are only marginally more self-critical than adults, with 16% of 15-19 year-olds being “not too satisfied” with their looks, compared to 13% for 20-59 year olds. Similarly, women were found to be only marginally more critical about themselves than men.

TIME portfolio

‘The Corridor of Death': Along America’s Second Border

The body lay along a fence line at the edge of a highway. He was a 23-year-old Salvadoran, according to the ID in his wallet, carrying a toothbrush and a picture of a young girl posing in a cap and gown. The man had spent days trudging through the sandy brush of South Texas, stripped to socks and underwear in the heat. When he collapsed and died, someone dragged the corpse toward the road, where it was spotted by a passing cowboy. By the time Brooks County chief sheriff’s deputy Benny Martinez arrived on May 21, the body was bleeding from the eyes.

Collecting the dead is one of the grim rituals of Martinez’s job. The young man from El Salvador was the 24th undocumented immigrant to perish in Brooks County this year. Over the past six years, more than 400 bodies have been discovered in the desolate rural jurisdiction, whose 7,200 people are spread across 943 sq. mi. (2,440 sq km) of cactus and mesquite. “You never get over it,” Martinez says.

The body count makes Brooks County one of the deadliest killing fields in the U.S. border crisis. But it is not actually on the border. The county is a graveyard for migrants because of the three-lane traffic checkpoint, operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, that sits on U.S. 281, 70 miles (115 km) north of Mexico. To circumvent the checkpoint, coyotes drop carloads of undocumented immigrants along the highway a few miles south, where they embark on an arduous hike through private ranchland with plans to rejoin their ride north of the station. For undocumented immigrants entering the U.S. in South Texas, the multiday trek is the most perilous leg of a journey that starts with a payment (often $5,000 to $10,000, according to authorities) to coyotes in their home countries, who stash their clients at squalid border safe houses and shepherd them across the Rio Grande aboard inflatable rafts.

Since 2006, when she became a staff photographer at The Monitor in the border town of McAllen, Tex., Kirsten Luce has been documenting immigration issues on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Now a freelance photographer, Luce made extended reporting trips to Brooks and Kenedy Counties in January and March. She embedded with the U.S. CBP, joining agents in the brush on both day and night patrols as they used footprints and censors to track the migrants during the difficult and dangerous walk around the Brooks County checkpoint.

“I hadn’t spent much time there in years, and it was a piece of the migration story that I wanted to revisit,” Luce says. “These are the places where most deaths occur. Migrants—often tired, thirsty and hungry after a couple nights in stash houses further south in Texas—succumb to heat exhaustion or dehydration while circumventing vehicle checkpoints on foot.”

“It wasn’t until I witnessed the conditions in these houses that I fully realized these migrants were beginning the hike in Brooks or Kenedy County with severely compromised health conditions,” Luce says. “The people who hold migrants in these houses coordinate with other smugglers to lead them around the checkpoints. All are directly or indirectly linked to the drug cartels operating with impunity in Northeast Mexico. In recent years, human smuggling (especially all the way from Central America) has become as profitable as drugs, and it’s harder to prosecute as smugglers often try to blend in with their group and get deported alongside them. The cartels now control all traffic across the Rio Grande and everyone must use a cartel-approved guide. If caught crossing alone, one could be beaten or disappeared.”

Despite all the attention to securing the border itself, often the best chance of intercepting the flow of people and contraband is at checkpoints on key roads leading north. “These interior checkpoints always intrigued me, because each migrant passing undocumented through the Rio Grande Valley essentially crosses two borders,” Luce says. In Brooks County, the enforcement checkpoint has pushed undocumented immigrants onto private ranches, where they are unprepared for the searing heat and arid terrain on what can be a 25-mile (40 km) detour around the patrol stations.

“Some arrange to get dropped off several miles south and spend a night or two hiking north, following a wide arc far from the road,” Luce says. “Others are more brazen, getting dropped off less than a mile from the checkpoint at one of several turn-around lanes off of Highway 281 or 77, the only two direct routes out of the Valley. Typically the migrants have no idea where they are or what they are facing ahead. One once asked me if we were in Houston, some 250 miles away.”

Temperatures can reach triple digits in the summer. It’s easy to become disoriented and get lost. Migrants carry little food or water, and those who lag are left behind by their guides. “It’s the corridor of death,” says Eddie Canales, who runs the South Texas Human Rights Center, a few miles from the Falfurrias checkpoint in Brooks County. “There’s no telling how many remains are still out there.”

South Texas has struggled for years with the U.S. immigration crisis, but the problems deepened as migration patterns shifted. Beefed-up border security across former trouble spots in California, Arizona and West Texas prompted smugglers to find new routes through the Rio Grande Valley, while escalating violence in Central American nations spurred a wave of refugees searching for a path to the U.S. Illegal border crossings have dropped in 2015 with the end of the unaccompanied-minor crisis, and deaths in Brooks County are actually down from their peak of 129 in 2012.

But the impact still hits hard in places like Brooks County, which has just five sheriff’s deputies, and neighboring Kenedy County (pop. 400), where another border-patrol checkpoint sits astride U.S. 77. In these poor rural areas, recovering, identifying and burying the dead carries significant costs. Judge Imelda Barrera-Arevalo, the top elected official in Brooks County, estimates that dealing with the humanitarian crisis will consume 15% to 20% of the county’s budget this year. “It’s still our responsibility,” she adds, “whether we like it or not.”

To reduce fatalities, humanitarian groups and some ranchers have installed water stations. The border patrol has positioned rescue beacons on private land so migrants can buzz for help. Agents use ground sensors, cameras and blimps to surveil the sprawl. “I won’t be happy until the death toll is zero,” says Doyle Amidon, the patrol agent in charge of Falfurrias station. “But the nature of this area, and the fact that we are in the perfect location for illegal migrants to pass through here, it’s sort of the perfect storm.”

On one nighttime patrol, Luce joined border patrol agents as they tracked a group of 12 migrants for close to two hours. “There was something exciting about these pursuits. The air was cool and the moon was bright. We were fed and hydrated,” she says. “The migrants, however, had been traveling for days or weeks and were exhausted and dirty. They were as close as they’d ever been to relative freedom. They’d invested an untold fortune for this opportunity, an amount nearly impossible to pay back in their home countries. Their clothes were covered in leaves and stickers, any exposed skin covered in small scrapes from the brush.”

Eventually, they came upon the migrants hiding in a grove of mesquite. Agents surrounded the grove and moved in from all sides, working quickly to handcuff the migrants. Some tried to flee, but most remained perfectly still as they were detained.

“Any momentary thrill I had felt during the pursuit was replaced first by adrenaline and then by a hollow sadness,” Luce says. “The migrants’ resignation, and sometimes fear, is sobering for everyone. The air felt thicker as we hiked out, nearly a mile to the closest road. Everyone had a heavy heart, no one is rejoicing. I think many agents feel that they are rescuing these people from an uncertain fate, which is certainly true. They are doing their part to enforce the nation’s immigration laws, albeit some 80 miles north of the border, on privately owned land.”

Kirsten Luce is a freelance photojournalist based in New York.

Alex Altman is TIME’s Washington Correspondent.

MONEY Travel

9 Vacation Spots That Are Better (and Cheaper) Than the Places You Want to Go

These less-traveled locales offer many of the perks of the big-name hotspots with fewer tourists. Even better, because they're less popular, they're often more affordable.

  • La Paz, Mexico

    Design Pics Inc / Alamy On the water off Espiritu Santo Island.

    INSTEAD OF: Los Cabos

    WHY HERE? La Paz is located on the Sea of Cortez on the Baja Peninsula, and it has the same laid-back vibe as California’s West Coast beach cities. The landscape is spectacular, from the marine-mammal-rich waters to a desert worthy of an Ansel Adams photo. The culinary scene is growing too, with enough upscale restaurants to rival those in Los Cabos, 87 miles (and a $25 shuttle ride) away. One caveat: Go before mid-July. Even the locals flee the August heat.

    Average summer hotel rate: $117 vs. $257 in Los Cabos

  • La Paz, Mexico: Where to Stay & What to Do

    Aurora Photos / Alamy Fruit for sale on Tecelote Beach.

    STAY: A simple room at Hotel Perla, a 1940s landmark with bay views on the Malecón (boardwalk), goes for $75 a night. If you want amenities such as daily room service and an infinity pool, try the Costa Baja Resort & Spa (from $243), which runs 45%-off specials when you book more than 90 days in advance. Overall, the average double-occupancy hotel room in La Paz is $117, less than half what it costs in Los Cabos.

    DO: Sign up for a day dive with PADI diving center Cortez Club ($140). Nearby Los Islotes is known for its sea lion colony; you might even spot schools of hammerhead sharks at Marisla Seamount. If snorkeling is more your speed, bring your gear to the turquoise waters and sandy coves of Balandra, 15 minutes from downtown.

    La Paz offers an increasingly diverse menu of restaurants, from daring fusion to old-school Mexican street food, says editor Tomas Zyber of BajaInsider.com. Get a table for two at Las Tres Vírgenes, where dinner—wood-fire-grilled octopus and expertly prepared steaks—paired with wine costs under $100, Zyber notes. For cheap eats, line up with locals at Chino Tacos (dinner, $4 per person) on Antonio Navarro Street at the corner of Belisario Dominguez. Try the tacos al pastor (spit-grilled pork with cilantro, onions, and pineapple), carne asada, or spicy chorizo.

  • Dublin

    Mikel Bilbao/Firstlight The Temple Bar in the city's cultural corner.

    INSTEAD OF: London

    WHY HERE? Looking for some foreign culture but don’t want to brave a second language? There’s always London. But since it’s the most visited city in Europe, you’ll also find some of the continent’s most expensive hotels there (average cost: $268 a night). And then there’s Dublin. With its small-city feel and Irish charm, the capital is as easy to drink in as a smooth pint of Guinness. Best of all: The dollar is even stronger against the euro (up 23%) in the past year than it is vs. the pound (13%).

     

  • Dublin: Where to Stay & What to Do

    Firstlight The perfect Irish pairing: shellfish and Guiness.

    STAY: The hip new Dean Hotel (from $138), located downtown, is capped by a beautiful rooftop restaurant. If you don’t mind a 20-minute walk or a cab ride to the city center, opt for a private room ($80) at the Generato Dublin, a design-forward hostel housed in a former Irish folk-dancing hall, located across the River Liffey in Smithfield.

    DO: The Irish will tell you that their literary legacy is every bit as distinguished as the Brits’, and they’ve got the names (Yeats, Beckett, Wilde) to make a case. If you’re in Dublin on June 16, you’ll be lucky enough to see the entire city celebrate native son James Joyce, who set his classic novel Ulysses here on that day.

    You can celebrate a different kind of artistry in the Creative Quarter—South William, Drury, Wicklow, and Exchequer streets—home to many boutiques and a great place to find authentic keepsakes. “Try the Irish Design Shop for tea towels and porcelain birdhouses or, 10 minutes away, Jam Art Factory, where you’ll find prints, artwork, and pottery,” says Emily Westbrooks, author of Delightful Dublin.

    When you’ve worn yourself out, you can rest your feet and your shopping bags at the recently opened Woollen Mills Eating House, serving Roaring Bay mussels and Howth cod (lunch, $25). If you’re looking to splurge, Dublin also has five Michelin-starred restaurants. Jonathan Epstein, president of travel company Celebrated Experiences, suggests Chapter One, where chef Ross Lewis serves up rabbit with Parma ham and cured salmon with Atlantic crab. A four-course dinner is $75. A year ago you’d have paid $97 for the same feast.

     

  • Palm Springs

    Hal Bergman/Getty A classic vista.

    INSTEAD OF: Los Angeles

    WHY HERE? During the winter this city serves as Los Angeles’ playground, filled with weekenders taking advantage of the posh resorts and haute design scene. At this time of year you can have it almost to yourself. Summer in this desert oasis isn’t for everyone: The average June temperature is 87° F and highs can hit 110° (115° in August, when you really don’t want to visit). But there are plenty of ways to beat the heat, says Françoise Rhodes of TravelingwithFrancoise.com, whether it’s a morning hike through the nearby canyons or a lazy day by the pool.

    Summer hotel rate: $105 vs. $156 in Los Angeles

  • Palm Springs: Where to Stay & What to Do

    Lisa Corson/Gallerystock Cabazon Dinosaurs Park.

    STAY: At the Triada Palm Springs, a Spanish-hacienda-style property with a cabana-lined pool, rooms start at $109 a night, 48% less than in high season. The Avalon Hotel Palm Springs, fresh from a major renovation, is set amid palm-dotted courtyards, burbling fountains, and three swimming pools, and has a top-notch spa. Rooms start at $150; at the hotel’s sister property, Avalon Beverly Hills, they start at $279 for the same dates.

    DO: The Indian Canyons, known for their stunning rock formations, make for a great morning hike, says Katy Carrier, founder of Palm Springs Style magazine. For shopping, head to the Uptown Design District, where you’ll find furniture and home decor items. Bon Vivant is known for its vintage glassware, while Just Modern has a large selection of mid-century-inspired furnishings and artwork, Carrier says. Palm Springs has also established its own film scene. The main film festival is in January, but from June 16 to 22 is the International ShortFest, which showcases more than 300 short films from more than 50 countries. When you’re ready for dinner, try the lobster ravioli at the decades-old Johnny Costa’s Ristorante (dinner, $50), says Rhodes. If you’re hungry for some true California roadside kitsch, pack a picnic and head to Cabazon Dinosaurs, about 20 miles west of the city.

  • Naxos, Greece

    Age Fotostock/Alamy The Temple of Apollo arch on Palatia Islet.

    INSTEAD OF: Santorini or Mykonos

    WHY HERE? Naxos is anchored in the Aegean about halfway between Santorini and Mykonos, but it might as well be on another planet. The biggest of Greece’s Cycladic islands, Naxos is studded with lush mountains and valleys polka-dotted by white-washed homes, all surrounded by a ribbon of gorgeous beaches. It’s the kind of place that’s still rural enough to spot the occasional donkey trotting down a cobblestone street, not to mention acres of tiered vineyards and olive groves. Of course that means that just about every restaurant you find has a legitimate claim as a farm-to-table outpost.

    Cruise-ship dockings a year: 16 vs. 512 in Santorini

  • Naxos, Greece: Where to Stay & What to Do

    Kartouchken/Alamy A local pottery store in the town of Apiranthos.

    STAY: Accommodations start at $25 a night, topping out around $360, whereas Santorini’s prices start at $90 and skyrocket to over $1,000, on Expedia.com. Rooms at the Pension Sofi, a cheerful blue-and-white guesthouse draped in bougainvillea vines, cost only $39 per person (two-night minimum). The 30 spacious rooms at the four-star Lagos Mare Hotel, with a pool, bar, and sea views, are a steal at $120, says Mina Agnos, a Greek travel expert with Travelive.

    DO: The best way to explore Naxos is on foot. Agnos can set up a Naxian Apollo walking tour (from $38), which tracks the island’s history from ancient times to the present and includes town visits, archaeological sites, and a trip to the island’s collection of kouros statues, which date back to the 8th century B.C. Afterward, grab a waterfront table at Geomilo, which serves traditional Naxian dishes such as Kleftiko of Za, made with local lamb, and cod with a garlic puree (dinner, $20).

     

  • Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

    Aaron Peterson/Alamy Kayaking under one of the park's famous arches.

    INSTEAD OF: Traverse City, Mich.

    WHY HERE? There are 407 national parks, and while it’s not the most celebrated, Michigan’s Pictured Rocks was the country’s first National Lakeshore. The park sits on 42 jaw-dropping miles of Lake Superior coastline that’s studded with eerie sand dunes, romantic waterfalls, and a stately lighthouse. But it’s the multicolored sandstone cliffs, which seem to change color with every flicker of sunshine, that are the main attraction. That and the price of admission: It’s free.

  • Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore: Where to Stay & What to Do

    Terry Donnelly/Alamy The Au Sable Light Station is still in use.

    STAY: Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is rugged territory; enjoy the park by roughing it. Pictured Rocks has three main camping grounds. Twelvemile Beach ($16), the most popular, features lake views through the trees. If you’d rather rest your head in a room with four walls, Munising, Mich., is about two miles away and features several family-owned properties. The Sunset Motel on the Bay (from $89) has free Wi-Fi and rooms with kitchenettes. In Traverse City hotels average over $150 a night.

    DO: Get your bearings on one of Pictured Rocks’ iconic hikes, suggests Susan Reece, the park’s chief of interpretation and education. On the Chapel Falls trek, you’ll weave through beech and maple trees en route to cascading waterfalls and Chapel Rock, which looks like an open-air temple (albeit one with a pine tree growing out of the roof). You can also follow the 1½-mile hike to the Au Sable Light Station, on the edge of a picnic-worthy beach. Keep an eye out for deer, beaver, and other critters. The best way to see the park’s dramatic coastline is from the water: On a three-hour tour with Pictured Rocks Cruises ($37), a local park ranger will explain the area’s geology and history as you pass stunning formations such as the Painted Coves and Lover’s Leap.

     

  • Hanoi

    Kaaarel/Getty One of the city's many ancient temples.

    INSTEAD OF: Bangkok

    WHY HERE? At a time when so many Southeast Asian capitals are banking on what’s new, Hanoi still embraces its rich history and communist roots. True, the bustling city has its share of skyscrapers and mopeds, but you’ll also find French-inspired architecture and food—bonjour, bánh mì baguettes!—in its large Old Quarter. This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, making a visit to Ho Chi Minh’s stilt house or the National Museum of Vietnamese History especially timely.

    Annual tourists to Vietnam: 7.8 million vs. 16 million in Bangkok

  • Hanoi: Where to Stay & What to Do

    Jonathan Siegel/Getty Preparing CafÉ NÂu DA, traditional Vietnamese coffee.

    STAY: Rooms at the recently renovated 80-room Boss Legend Hotel start at $82. The five-star Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi (from $225), housed in a sumptuous 1901 French colonial–style building, has hosted Charlie Chaplin, Graham Greene, and “Hanoi Jane” herself—Jane Fonda.

    DO: Make the city’s Old Quarter, which dates back to the 11th century, your home base. At Q Cafe—or one of the hundreds of other coffee shops—you’ll find locals sitting on squat stools sipping café phe da, or Vietnamese iced coffee ($1) made with espresso and condensed milk. From there you can window-shop along the bustling city streets, where vendors sell anything from hardware supplies and birdcages to fine art. Stop in Ginkgo for graphic-printed T-shirts before slurping down a northern Vietnam staple, beef-based pho, at Tuyen Pho Cam ($3).

    When you’re ready to see a bit of the coastline, head to Ha Long Bay, three hours east of the city. Ha Long means “descending dragon,” and the 1,600 islets jutting out of the Gulf of Tonkin do look like the moss-covered spikes on a submerged water beast. Most hotels offer day or overnight excursions; Boss Legend’s day trip (from $45) includes lunch and kayaking.

  • Salt Lake City

    John Pulsipher/Firstlight Downtown, framed by the Wasatch Mountains.

    INSTEAD OF: Denver

    WHY HERE? Salt Lake isn’t just a jumping-off point for skiers. Those snowcapped Wasatch Mountains also frame an urban playground that’s become home to a lively art, restaurant, and cocktail scene.

    Daily rental car rates: from $28 vs. $45 in Denver

     

  • Salt Lake City: Where to Stay & What to Do

    150528_TRA_SLC_FlyFishing
    A. Barber Fly fishing near Salt Lake City, Utah.

    STAY: Downtown has the best hotel selection. The Inn on the Hill (from $150) features 12 unique rooms and serves a complimentary hot breakfast. The Marriott Courtyard doesn’t have the same boutique charm, but it was just renovated this year and rates start at $99. Hotels in Salt Lake are a bargain in general: $106 a night vs. $136 a night in Denver.

    DO: To sip your way through the city, head to the up-and-coming Sugar House neighborhood, full of early-1900s cottages and bungalows. The Sugar House Distillery, which makes small-batch vodkas and rums, offers free tours. Shades of Pale, a popular Utah Brewery, also opened a new facility three miles west in SoDo (South Downtown). If you’re looking to do some shopping, the Local Colors of Utah gallery is a co-op where you’ll find pottery, photography, jewelry, and paintings from area artists. When you’ve worked up an appetite, try the Fresco Italian Cafe (dinner, $35), where dishes such as seared polenta and sun-choke agnolotti are complemented by a spot-on Italian wine list, says Josh Rosenthal of TheSLCFoodie.com.

    There are also plenty of worthy day trips. New or expert anglers can sign up with Western Rivers Fly Fisher (from $315 for two), on the Provo River, about 50 miles to the southeast. The drive through the Wasatch Mountains alone is well worth it, especially when the wildflowers are in bloom. On Kayak.com cars rent for $28 a day in Salt Lake. In Denver, the average is $45 a day.

  • Cape Breton, Canada

    Alamy One of the residents of Highlands National Park.

    INSTEAD OF: New England

    WHY HERE? Cape Breton, a 4,000-square-mile island that juts out into the Atlantic about 650 miles northeast of Portland, Maine, is known for its untamed coastline, charming inns, and deeply rooted Celtic culture. The island receives about 365,000 visitors annually; Cape Cod alone squeezes in more than 4 million. Just crossing the Canadian border will fatten your wallet, as loons have dropped 14% in value against the U.S. dollar over the past year.

    Average hotel rate: $89 vs. $192 on Cape Cod

  • Cape Breton, Canada: Where to Stay & What to Do

    Barrett & MacKay/Corbis It's easy to see how the Bras d'Or (arms of gold) lake got its name.

    STAY: The waterfront town of Baddeck makes a great launching point for the surrounding countryside. Hospitality options include cottages—from $67 a night on NovaScotia.com—and cozy family-owned properties such as the Baddeck Heritage House (from $91), built in the 1860s.

    DO: Get out on the water. On half-day trips (from $55) with North River Kayak Tours, you’ll paddle alongside the giant sugar maples and peer up to scout for American bald eagle nests. If you’d prefer to stay on land, drive the cliff-hugging Cabot Trail, the 185-mile road that makes a loop around the island’s northwestern region and offers prime whale-watching pit stops. Want to get even closer to a great ocean mammal? Sign up for a snorkeling trip with Captain Zodiac (from $40) in Cheticamp, located on the island’s northwestern border, to bob alongside minke, pilot, and fin whales.

    For dinner, Angelo Spinazzola of North River Kayak suggests the Bitehouse, a 12-seat restaurant located in a converted farmhouse that serves seasonal dishes such as scallops with caramelized cauliflower and grilled zucchini with local cheese ($40).

    Average hotel rate: $89 vs. $192 on Cape Cod

  • Aruba

    Courtesy of boardwalk small hotel Aruba Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba.

    INSTEAD OF: Cayman Islands

    WHY HERE? While Aruba has long been on Caribbean travelers’ radars, its 66% hotel occupancy rate (in summer) is much lower than the rates for St. Lucia (84%) and the Caymans (76%). The island is also undergoing an impressive $1 billion investment in new hotels, public works, and an energy plan to be fossil fuel–free by 2020. Aruba is increasingly accessible too, with Houston recently becoming the 12th North American city to introduce a direct flight to the island.

    Average summer hotel cost: $197 vs. $257 in the Caymans

  • Aruba: What to See & What to Do

    Courtesy of Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba

    STAY: Aruba’s range of accommodations means you don’t need to break the bank to stay in a lovely place, though an ocean view might cost you. You could opt for the Tamarijn Aruba (all-inclusive from $450 for two; three- night minimum) on Divi Beach, a waterfront property that also has a spa and a golf course. Further inland, at the charming Boardwalk Aruba, located in a coconut grove, casita rates start at $195 a night, says Susan Campbell, a senior writer for Aruba Nights. Guests also have free access to Moomba club on Palm Beach, as well as free lounge chairs and snorkeling equipment.

    DO: In capital city Oranjestad, you can fuel up on empanadas stuffed with Gouda and ham at Mi Boca Dushi (lunch, $5) before renting bikes from Aruba Active Vacations ($25 per day). Cycle along the waterfront’s new 10-mile boardwalk or, if you’re looking for an empty stretch of sand, pedal to windswept Arashi Beach, close to the California Lighthouse.

    On the island’s south side, you can pair sunset views with the catch of the day at Zee Rover’s ($20), a fisherman’s hangout turned restaurant, suggests Matt Boland, the executive chef of Aruba’s Divi Resorts. Specialties include red snapper and wahoo served with plantains, pan bati (a cornmeal pancake), and hot sauce made with papaya and peppers.

TIME Crime

Life Inside Mexico’s ‘Infamous Cesspool,’ the Black Palace Prison

How one overcrowded, dangerous prison attempted to clean up its act

Prisons are a perennially newsworthy topic, whether the angle is mass incarceration, substandard conditions or the accuracy of pop culture representations like Orange Is the New Black’s Litchfield Correctional Facility. Many of these questions have marinated in the public sphere for decades.

In 1950, when the number of incarcerated Americans was around one-fifth of today’s levels, LIFE published an exposé on a prison south of the border, Mexico City’s Black Palace of Lecumberri. Prison is not designed to be pleasant, but the Black Palace was so dangerous, dirty and degraded as to inspire LIFE to describe it “an animal cage for great and petty criminals who … murdered each other in knife brawls and lived in depravity in overcrowded cells.”

Following a crime wave in 1949, the prison administration brought in a new warden to oversee the 4,000 inmates, who were living in a facility built for half that number. Colonel Francisco Linares introduced a militaristic management style while maintaining some of the prison’s unusual freedoms: City postmen brought letters directly to cells, wealthier inmates could employ other inmates as servants and conjugal visits were permitted—for male inmates only—with the intention of preventing homosexual activity.

As for the female prisoners, who made up 10% of the population and three dozen of whom were mothers, many found better nutrition and education within the prison’s walls than in their impoverished lives outside of prison.

Linares openly eschewed penal pedagogy, resorting to special measures for what he deemed a special situation. “We can’t run an Alcatraz, a Leavenworth or a Sing Sing here,” he explained. “We have to run this place a la Mexicana.”

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

TIME Great Places

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo With Vivid Images of Mexico in the 1960s

In 1968, LIFE dispatched a photographer to capture a slice of Mexican culture

Ever since the celebration began to trickle eastward from California during the middle of the 20th century, Cinco de Mayo has been subject to several misconceptions in the United States. Many people mistakenly equate it with Mexico’s Independence Day, which actually takes place on September 16. Thanks largely to the marketing efforts of beer companies, many use it as an excuse to drink to excess while donning sombreros, the meaning behind the celebration of little consequence to revelers. But in reality, the holiday commemorates the Mexican army’s defeat of the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1862, after which the heavily outnumbered Mexican forces’ victory over the well-equipped French invaders came to symbolize national unity and strength.

The holiday has evolved to more broadly celebrate Mexican heritage and culture, which LIFE featured in a 1968 photo essay by photographer John Dominis. Dominis was dispatched to Mexico ahead of the 1968 summer Olympics, which would bring many international travelers there. The photographs celebrated the country’s diverse ethnic makeup, its fiestas and its food, as well as its modernizing urban centers. They were, for many of LIFE’s readers, a first intimate glimpse into life south of the border, and one that presented the country’s richness of culture as worthy of admiration.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

TIME Holidays

This is What Happened on the First Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo festivities in Ciudad Jaurez
Joe Raedle—Getty Images Cinco de Mayo festivities take place in Ciudad Jaurez, Mexico May 5, 1999.

The annual celebration traces its origins back to a time when France tried to invade Mexico

These days, the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo is considered a fun celebration — but the event that led to it was anything but.

The short version of the story is pretty straightforward, as TIME explained in 1941:

In almost every town in Mexico there is a Calle de Cinco de Mayo—Street of the Fifth of May—commemorating the Battle of Puebla, May 5, 1862. In that battle a Coxey’s Army of Mexican irregulars defeated well-organized French forces of Napoleon III and postponed for a year the imposition of rococo Maximilian I as Emperor of Mexico.

Basically, the day is sacrosanct because it’s when Mexican forces pulled off a David-over-Goliath victory. (Coxey’s Army was a rag-tag group of unemployed Americans that marched on Washington, D.C. in 1894 in hopes of encouraging the government to better provide for the jobless.)

So the date of the celebration makes sense. But why was France trying to invade Mexico in the first place?

The answer to that question involves generations’ worth of complicated international relations. For decades, the U.S. had had a policy (the Monroe Doctrine) of keeping European colonial interests out of the Western hemisphere. But in the early 1860s, the U.S. was busy with the Civil War and Mexico was particularly vulnerable following the Mexican-American War in the 1840s and their own civil war, the War of the Reform, which began in 1859. In addition, Mexico owed national debts to several European countries, including countries that were debating intervention in the Civil War.

In France, Emperor Napoleon III (nephew of the Napoleon) wanted to expand his empire and settled on Mexico, which was already in debt to France. As explained by the Congressional Quarterly Guide to U.S. Foreign Policy, Napoleon III had grand plans to dominate trade across the Atlantic and in Europe. He planned to conquer Mexico and put his Austrian allies in charge, and make an alliance with the Confederate States of America. That Mexico was refusing to pay its debt to France gave Napoleon III justification for an attack.

Shortly after the invasion began, the French forces got to Puebla, only to be stopped by their Mexican opponents on May 5.

The Mexican triumph was relatively short-lived. Less than a year later, the French returned to Puebla and were victorious. But the unexpected triumph on May 5, 1862, remains a point of immense national pride — as proved by this 153rd celebration of Cinco de Mayo.

Read more about Mexico from 1941, here in the TIME Vault: New Army

TIME On Our Radar

9 Mexican Photographers You Need to Follow

Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican culture

Cinco de Mayo is a day that commemorates the unlikely victory of the Mexican troops against the French army in the 1862 Battle of Puebla. Originally celebrated in Mexico, it became popular in the U.S. during the 1940s and it is, today, an opportunity to celebrate Mexican culture and pride. But what do we really know about this iconic country, beyond the usual stereotypes? The prolific Mexican photographic tradition, whose authors have been documenting the country’s most diverse aspects for decades, offers an answer. From religion, colonization and indigenous history to migrations, influences, rituals and the relationship with the territory, these Mexican photographers offer a solid visual analysis of their country culture, issues and archetypes.

Eunice Adorno (Mexico City, 1982) – Eunice Adorno belongs to a new generation of Mexican photographers. Her work focuses mainly on everyday-life stories within and outside the country with a fresh perspective. In the series Flower Woman she has been documenting for a couple of years the lives of women in a Mennonite community in the north region of Durango. Her photographs describe their daily life and the intimate spaces they live in with sensibility. After having been a photojournalist for more than 10 years, she now focuses on her personal photographic and video work.

Luis Arturo Aguirre (Acapulco, Guerrero, 1983) – Luis Arturo Aguirre is another member of this new generation of Mexican photographers. He is best known for is work Desvestidas, in which he portrays transvestites. Aguirre is driven by a fascination for their ability to give new forms to their bodies, choosing to portray them naked with wigs and makeup, a context in which their male body cannot be hidden. His work has been included in Transatlantica, an international itinerant exhibition featuring the work of rising Latin-American photographers.

Alejandro Cartagena (Dominican Republic, 1977) – Alejandro Cartagena deals with the Mexican society of the 21st century and its current issues. In his work we can see the life of suburban areas, the influence of North American culture and the impact of living in a megalopolis. The later aspect stands out in Carpoolers, which narrates in a systematic and striking way the daily migrations of construction workers due to the constantly expanding suburbs of the city of Monterrey. Cartagena’s work is held at SFMOMA, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

José Luis Cuevas (Mexico City, 1973) The work of José Luis Cuevas focuses on the human figure in portraits shot without filters. His raw, direct and conceptual style allows the spectator to enter the scene and the emotional status of the subject portrayed. In the project Nueva Era, Cuevas expresses his point of view on how religion and spiritualism affect the common Mexican man while guiding us on an exploration of the power of symbolism.

Mariela Sancari (Buenos Aires, 1976) Born in Argentina but photographically raised in Mexico, where she has lived since 1997, Mariela Sancari presents an intimate and metaphoric work that orbits around personal experience. In Two Headed Horses, she faces the loneliness and changes that have affected her life and that of her twin sister after the suicide of their father when they were 14 years old. In Moisés, she stages the fictionalized research of her lost parent with portraits of men of the same age as her father. It’s a striking way of exploring the emotional impact that images can have, while questioning the concept of photography as evidence.

Ruth Prieto Arenas (Mexico City, 1983) The photography of Ruth Prieto Arenas is characterized by a strong and symbolic use of color, which guides the viewers into the stories she narrates. In her most important project, Safe Heaven, she approaches the issue of migration by portraying the lives of young women who moved from Mexico to the U.S. In the series, she uses the color as a metaphor for diversity and acceptance while bringing us into the intimacy of their apartments, where elements like the Virgen de Guadalupe suggest a nostalgia for these women’s home countries.

Francisco Mata Rosas (Mexico City, 1958) Francisco Mata Rosas is considered one of the most influential Mexican photographers of his generation. His works covers many of the relevant themes of the country’s recent history, from the 1990s conflict in Chiapas to the archetypes of the Mexican collective imaginary. In La Linea, he narrates the political and human conflicts that characterize the border between Mexico and the U.S., a place where “dreams rebound.”

Graciela Iturbide (Mexico City, 1942) – Graciela Iturbide studied cinema at the Universidad Autónoma de Mexico where she worked as a personal assistant for Manuel Alvarez Bravo, the father of Mexican photography. With a dramatic use of black and white, Iturbide covers daily life across the country with a particular focus on the role and condition of women in Mexican society. In Los Que Viven En La Arena, she documents a community living in the Desierto de Sonora; in her series El Baño De Frida, she portrays the intimacy of Frida Kahlo’s bathroom.

Pedro Meyer (Madrid, 1935) Born in Spain, Pedro Meyer quickly moved to Mexico where he developed a career narrating the culture in Mexico and Latin America. His photography, often provocative and visionary, explores the limit of the visual language and questions the limit of traditional photojournalism. One of the most celebrated photographers of the continent, Meyer is considered a pioneer of Mexican photography as well as an early adopter of digital photography. In 1991 he launched the first CD-Rom with images and sound while in 1994 he founded the prestigious photography portal Zone Zero. In 2008 he presented Heresies, a retrospective of his work that was shown in more than 60 galleries across 17 countries simultaneously.

Giuseppe Oliverio is the Founder and CEO of the Photographic Museum of Humanity.

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