Saturday, January 20, 2018

You Should Visit Mazunte, Mexico In 2018 Before They Get Too Popular

Mazunte, Mexico

Mexico’s most laid-back coastline is at risk of being Tulum’d The southern coast of Oaxaca is still one of those rare, off-the-beaten-path treasures... for now. Surfers have been flocking to these rugged shores for decades, drawn by the forceful surf, golden sand, rocky inlets, and sleepy fishing village vibes. But the jaws of development are never far behind, as even hideaways like Huatulco and Puerto Escondido begin to get gobbled up by hotel developers, cruise ports, and, ugh, tourists. Still, there remain a few pockets of paradise left to discover. Mazunte, about an hour south of Puerto Escondido, is still on the tipping point between sublimely chill and a Travel & Leisure write-up.

The counterpart to nearby Zipolite (a hippie beach that has been drawing free spirits and nudists since the 60s), Mazunte is heralded for its following of leathery yogis and sun worshippers who love to get off the grid with relatively shallow pockets. Cobalt and teal water touches honey-colored sand, as tattooed, dread-locked surfers and backpackers suck back Pacifico beers underneath shady, thatched palapas. The village is built around two beaches, Playa Rinconcito and Mermejita. But recently, Mazunte was listed as one of Mexico’s heralded Pueblo Magicos, towns that are given governmental distinction based on their character and charm. With that distinction comes the masses looking to escape their fast-paced jobs in search of the perfect vegan burrito. It’s only a matter of time before the luxury boutique hotels and straw fedora’d patrons follow. -- Meagan Drillinger The Thrillist

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Number Three

You remember the commercial with the Russian accent saying "What a country!"? Well, yesterday afternoon, Nancy and Bob Row hosted a Christmas party in their home. All I can say is, "What a party

All sorts of food, desserts, and drink spread across tables greeted us as we walked in. Everyone was required to wear a Christmas hat. We all brought presents to exchange, and the final event was bashing a Mexican piñata filled with candy and gifts.

I was touched by Will Kelley,s present to me. Before the gift exchange, I was asked to draw a number. I pulled a number 3. Will said I thought I pulled that number. I reached into the bag and again the number 3 came up. He asked Bev to pull a number. She pulled a number 3! Then Will presented me with a tin box decorated with pictures of Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback, also #3.

When we all were in Isla Mujeres, will and I went to a sports bar and watched the Seahawks game. It was a good game but our team lost. I said I wanted a Seahawks cap. I opened the tin box and inside was an autographed picture of Russell Wilson. It said, "Mike and Bev--losing football games and suitcases sucks! Be careful out there.
Signed Russell Wilson #3 Go Seahawks!

Inside the tin can was a stonewashed blue cap with a Seattle logo with la calaca.

In Isla Mujeres, I put our house keys in my small black suitcase. When Bajiogo unloaded our luggage at our house, I discovered the suitcase was missing. We were locked out. Many phone calls later, we discovered Sheila had taken my suitcase as hers. We retrieved the suitcase, found the keys, and entered our house.

Inside the tin can was an empty Silk Almond milk carton. On the box were these words: Missing suitcase reward offered underneath a picture of the suitcase. On the back of the carton was a picture of the suitcase with these words: Missing suitcase. Please call Bev and Mike Landfair, because their keys are in it & they can't get into their house.

To top it off Will made a copy of our house key (NOT) and attached it to the inside of the hat so I would never be in that position again.

That whole gag took a lot of effort, planning, and a few pesos to pull off. It resulted in quite a few laughs. For me, I was touched at how generous Will is of his time how great friends are.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Book Fair

Yesterday was the Book Fair at Casa Europa on Calle de San Francisco. The stone building could soon be the cultural center of San Miguel. 

I was there selling my book "The Way Back Poems of addiction and recovery." I called it a perfect Christmas gift for your drunk relatives. Ok, not everyone laughed. Maybe my humor was too close to home.

You have to be careful not to spend all your proceeds on things others are selling.  We did not make it. I sold three books for 200 pesos each, then Bev bought a calendar, three Christmas greeting cards, a necklace from Kristine Scherber and I bought two books. The first book was written by Margaret Paul titled "Conversations with Artists." The book includes conversations with Peter Leventhal, Keith Miller, Toller Cranston, the late Mary Rapp,  andTom and Donna Dickson, etc. Those are the artists I'm most familiar. The book is 258 pages and has many pictures. You can find it on Amazon.

My second book purchase was written by Marge Fahey titled "Under the Spell of San Miguel." This is an Insiders Guide to the city. Marge is a tour guide of House and Garden Tours advertised every week in Attencion.

The guide is a spiral bound notebook small enough to carry in your back pocket. It measures  4+ X 7+ inches. It is filled with answers to the newly arrived questions:

  1. Getting Around
  2. Etiquette and Useful Spanish Phrases
  3. Historical Overview
  4. Places of Interest
  5. Calendar of Holidays and Fiestas - One of the first questions could be "What do the bells mean and what is the parade for?"
  6. Classes
  7. Cultural Events - Every year SMA celebrates my wife's birthday on September 16th with fireworks in the Jardin.
  8. Day Trips - I recommend a trip to Canada de la Virgen Pyramid. You will get an overview of our history going back to the Mayans.Be sure to ask for Albert Coffey/ He will make the day trip memorable.
  9. Tours
  10. Markets
  11. Restaurants - we have over 340 restaurants and this recently updated guide will help you out. My current favorites are La Parada, Firenze, and Don Lupe. I almost forgot don't miss Don Felix, Nirvana, Oko, and La Grotto, for pizza. Did I mention Fat Boy and Hanks for hamburgers or Birdies in DOCE 18?
You can buy her guide at the Biblioteca,

Friday, November 3, 2017

Halloween vs. Dia De los Muertos

We participated in both Halloween on 10/31 and the first night of Dia de los Muertos on 11/01 her in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I am troubled by what I experienced.

Halloween here is very much like in the states. Kids say Trick or Treat when they ask for candy, except here there is no door to door "begging." Here the children come to the Jardin with their moms and dads, and the gringos, there could be Mexicans too, but I didn't observe any, hand out candy. Bev and I brought 20 to 30 pounds of candy each to the square in big bags. We were mobbed like pigeons after grain thrown on the ground. They were all polite and said Trick or Treat and gracias!

It is a treat to see all the little children dressed in costumes and painted faces.

Gringos seem to think they should dress in scary costumes. The children who don;t have bags or buckets to hold their candy hold outstretched hands in a begging posture. What have we taught the young children? Gringos provide lots of candy, they can be scary and begging Gringos works.

Dias de los Muertos is not about candy and being scared. It is a way to remember the dead children on night one and adults on night two. It is a time to visit a grave of a family member, sit down and drink and have a picnic and dwell on the life and relationships of the departed members of the family. There is a reverence in the culture for those who have gone on.

In the revolution when the streets were littered with the dead, it is believed that warriors came back as hummingbirds or butterflies, not ghosts.

We painted our faces and sat in the Jardin watching the people in all their costumes.
Earlier we stopped at Casa Chiquita for a wonderful pizza. A Mexican man came up to our table, and in a heartfelt way, expressed his pleasure in seeing the six of us observing Dia de los Muertos and respecting his culture.

I hope gringos will stress more the meaning of Dia de los Muertos and downplay the Halloween version.

Friday, October 27, 2017


Does this happen to you where you live? We live in San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico. Our town sits at 6,500 feet above sea level and is now the number one city in the world according to Travel & Leisure magazine.

We were introduced to a visiting couple by friends who are house sitting here until after Dias de los Muertos, Day of the Dead on November 1st. Many of the people who live here paint their faces for the day.  I asked the couple where they were from.

"Portland, Oregon." they said.

"My daughters live in Portland."

"Where do they live in Portland?"

"Raleigh Hills," I said.

"So do we! Whereabouts?"

"You know the Fred Meyer store on Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy? They live there."

"Across the street is 78th. What is the cross street?"

"Broadmore Terrace. My oldest daughter lives on Broadmore Terrace."

"So do we!" they both said. "Tell your daughters we own the Halloween house. They will know it."

As long as I live, I will never stop being amazed at the coincidences that crop up. Imagine, they travel 3,000 miles and they meet the father of a daughter who lives on the same street not 300 yards away.

Ain't life fun!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Best City Parks in the World

Condé Nast Traveler Chapultepec Park is an "urban forest" in the heart of Mexico City. While you're there, be sure to check out the zoo, the Castle of Chapultepec (which dually functions as the National History Museum), and Diego Rivera's Fuente de Tláloc, a famous fountain, and outdoor art installation. Getty Image

Monday, September 25, 2017

This is Not Usual in Mexico

The other day I took my propane tank and the Leland's tank to Don Pedro to exchange the tanks for filled tanks. I took a number and waited my turn. The Don Pedro employee said they didn't exchange tanks anymore. He said I would have to go someplace over by Liverpool, in the Luciernaga shopping center. Don Pedro is like a giant hardware store a mile or so south of the San Miguel glorietta. We had some trouble communicating in my meager Spanish.I hauled the tanks out to my car and I was about to take off when a well-dressed Mexican man knocked on my window. 

I couldn't understand him at first. I finally understood that if I would follow him, he would take me to the propane fill-up station.  He and an old man were in a white pickup. We turned right out of the lot onto the four-lane freeway, We drove about a half mile to a returno, turned around to the north and back to the glorietta. Turned right and up the hill to Liverpool. We passed the shopping center and came to another glorietta and turned right. We drove for another mile or so and took a left and drove north on a two-lane road.  

All the time I'm thinking am I nuts, following someone I don't know out into the country? After many topos, we turned left onto a dirt road that ended at Gas Exchange. I looked at my odometer and we had traveled about eight miles from Don Pedro. After a bit of waiting a man dressed in overalls came through the gate in a fence and my Mexican benefactor explained that I need the tanks filled. He waited with me. We managed to talk about his family and how long I've been in San Miguel. He has family here and a brother us the U.S. My new friend introduced himself as Aaron Martinez. 

Eventually, the Gas Exchange man came out with the two tanks. My tank was filled but the Leland's tank had a broken seal and needed a new valve.It couldn't be filled. Between the two men, I learned I needed a new Valve pronounced balba, Vs are Bs.  I would need to drive back to Don Pedro's buy a new balba, bring it back to the Gas Exchange man and he would put the new balba on and fill the tank. Aaron Martinez stayed with me the whole time and acted as my interpreter. We parted at the liverpool glorietta. I drove back to Don Pedros bought a new balba and returned to Gas Exchange. 

I thought Aaron's actions went above and beyond what anyone in Portland, Oregon would do. Is this unusual? You judge by this letter from Don McGilvrey: This text from a gringo friend of mine in San Miguel today . . .
“Today I am at a client's home and I am parked across the street from his house.   Been there an hour or so and it is raining cats and dogs.  I hear a car honking and look out the window and, wouldn’t you know it, there is police car parked next to my car.  I walked out and the cop was pointing out that my window was down a few inches.  The street was like a foot deep in water and I was fumbling for my keys.   He drove over up on the sidewalk and asked for my keys. I handed them to him. He drove across the street and parked up on the curb.  His partner got out and unlocked my door, put the key in the ignition and rolled up my window. Locked my door and he and his partner brought my keys back on the other side of the street.   He did this in the POURING ASS RAIN FOR ME!

Viva Mexico!”

I love these people