Sunday, May 31, 2015

Racing To Save Mexico City's Floating Gardens

From Worldcrunch - top stories from the world's best news sources:

Pelicans glide in arrow formation over the lake at Xochimilco, south of Mexico City, as two elegant herons stand in the water and stare at a boatload of tourists. Extending across 7,500 hectares of canals and gardens, this bucolic landscape displays a range of greens almost unimaginable, all in sharp contrast to the smog and frenzy of the Mexican capital right next door.

The lake is the setting of chinampas, the floating vegetable gardens developed here more than 500 years ago. They are one of the last remaining features of the ancient Aztec capital of Mexico-Tenochtitlán, conquered by Spaniards in 1521.

Five centuries on, this network of waterways and artificial islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is threatened by the city's disorderly expansion and over-exploitation of its water resources. The government of Mexico City has an action plan, financed by France, to save this enormous district of the capital that is also the home of ancestral farming traditions and exceptional biodiversity.

"There is no time to lose," says resident Claudia Zenteno, pointing with clear frustration at plastic bottles, bags and cans floating in the dark, stagnant water outside her house.

Zenteno, a 50-year-old former accountant turned environmentalist, lives by the lake, in a part removed from the piers and boat tours where the water is regularly cleaned for the 1.2 million tourists who visit every year. "We used to have a wonderful view when we arrived here in 1995," she says. "It's a shantytown today."

Read the full article: Racing To Save Mexico City's Floating Gardens

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Cinemex and Tomorrowland

Bev and I wanted to see a first-run movie tonight. We had two choices, one film "The Secret of Adaline" at 9:55 pm was about a girl who was in a car wreck which changed her so she never aged. The second at 7:20 pm was "Tomorrowland"with George Clooney. We chose George, along with  Hugh Laurie Britt Robertson Raffey Cassidy. Cinemex is in a mall called Liverpool. We took a taxi for 40 pesos and 50 pesos back.

The first thing you notice when you purchase your tickets is a screen that shows how much the movie costs for two people - $126 pesos. Then you see on the screen which seats are empty and you get to reserve your seats right there.

Next we checked out the concession stand. Yes they have popcorn, but they also sell caramelo, carmel corn. I ordered caramelo. They give you the popcorn  and you put on the butter flavoring like you would mustard on a hot dog. You can get a hot dog and you can get pizza.

There was stadium seating, the same untold number of commercials and previews. Many of the ads are in Spanish, The movie was in Ingles, with Spanish subtitles. The movies can be seen in Spanish, French and Ingles.

The movie was good. George was George, no disappointments and the girls in the show were very good. We liked the movie, I gave it an eight out of ten stars.

Shipments by truck up in volume and value

The volume of cargo moved by truck across the Mexico-United States border continues to rise, and its value is rising even faster.

The number of trucks that crossed the border in the first quarter of the year was up 2.9%, to a total of 1.37 million vehicles, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

But the value of the goods they carried between the two countries was up 9%, reaching US $68 billion.

The figures reflect a large increase in value from those of all of last year, when the number of trucks — 5.4 million — was up 4.2% and the value of the freight was up 9.1% to $266.8 billion.

“There is more complex manufacturing taking place and more goods coming from Mexico than what we’ve seen in previous years,” said Troy Ryley, managing director of logistics company Transplace de Mexico.

U.S. manufacturers are relying more and more on parts and components produced in or sourced through Mexico, and more of the cargo is higher-end, higher-cost merchandise in the automotive, electronics and aerospace sectors, Ryley said.

Source: (en)

Friday, May 29, 2015

An Ecovillage Survives as a Haven for Deep Ecology in Mexico’s Central Mountains

Christy Rodgers writes for The Dissident Voice, a radical internet newsletter dedicated to challenging the distortions and lies of the corporate press and the privileged classes it serves. "About an hour south of Mexico City, nestled in an extraordinary range of mountains called the Sierra del Tepozteco, whose fantastical rock formations studded with forest resemble those in ancient Chinese painted scrolls, an experiment in alternative living has been unfolding for more than 30 years now. The self-described “ecovillage” of Huehuecoyotl, where a group of itinerant artists from Mexico and elsewhere came to rest after traveling the world together for fifteen years, has become a kind of seedbed for visionary and transformative projects, particularly ecological ones. The multitude of such efforts, their persistence and success, is one of the stories buried under the avalanche of horror that characterizes the mainstream news from Mexico."

Read the rest here

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Who is Sergio Perez?

Who is Sergio Perez? Why he is one of Mexico's premier Formula 1 race car drivers. Born in 1990 in GuadalajaraJalisco,  WWW.Crash.Net interviewed him recently.

Sergio "Checo" Perez drives some of the best cars in the world for Sahara Force India team: “So I will go home (after Monaco) and spend time with my family and do some training. I have very good training in Mexico, a lot of cycling (he tells me he will do 100km in a day), and I also have some commitments with some personal partners and others so when I'm back in Mexico I will spend some time with them.”

That foundation is Checo's own charity 'Fundacion Checo Perez', a cause he is understandably proud of as he does his bit to use his global profile to help Mexico's disadvantaged children. Since its creation in March 2013, FCP has helped over 300 children thru, psychological companionship, workshops, human development programmes, sporting activities and the remodelling of their foster home.

Hotel Matilda Marks its Fifth Anniversary

By Gay Nagle Myers of Travel Weekly focuses on Hotel Matilda in San Miguel.

Incorporating contemporary art into the guest experience is a hallmark of the chic, hip Hotel Matilda, located on the cobblestone streets of San Miguel de Allende.

Since its opening in 2010, the trademark of the 32-suite boutique property has been its focus on contemporary art by established and emerging artists as a counterpoint to its location in the 500-year-old colonial town and Unesco Heritage site that it calls home.

The Hotel Matilda unveiled an interior design at its opening that resembled an art gallery. That focus on art has grown throughout the years, in part due to Tennessee businessman and longtime San Miguel homeowner Harold Stream III, the hotel developer, owner, art collector and patron of the arts.

Stream named the hotel for his mother who, in the 1940s, was painted by Mexican artist Diego Rivera. A reproduction of that painting, called "The Archer," hangs in the hotel living room, a comfortable gathering space that replaces what would be the lobby in other hotels.

Artwork by Miguel Angel Ruiz can be found at the hotel.

To celebrate its fifth anniversary this year, the hotel is showcasing paintings and sculptures from Stream's private collections as well as bringing together artists whose works are part of the hotel's permanent collection.

A year-round Hotel Matilda Art Tour was introduced in March that offers guests and visitors the opportunity to view the hotel's collection with insight into the works from curators and hotel staff.

"The goal since opening was to create an experiential atmosphere that is inspiring, fun and even whimsical, such as the wallpaper of hundreds of nudes in the lounge bathroom, a trio of riotous bronze masks on the lounge patio and a collage over the fireplace inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s ‘Garden of Earthly Delights,’” said Bruce James, hotel director.

Public spaces throughout the 32-suite property are filled with dramatic works of art from international artists.

"What we are doing is adding creative and colorful layers to the art experience at Hotel Matilda and making this year a celebration of our artistic soul,” James said.

He said that guests have a more personal and intimate experience with the art on view inside the hotel, at the pool, near the spa and in the restaurant than that would have at any art gallery.

“Having works of art all around you when you are sitting in the library or having lunch at our Moxi restaurant is completely different and infinitely more friendly than viewing art in a museum,” he said.

The Hotel Matilda is located at:

Aldama 53, Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto.
01 415 152 1015

Rosewood Remains Bullish On Mexico

Claudette Covey at TravelPulse writes "Last month, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts announced plans for a fourth ultra-luxury hotel in Mexico, a country that it believes provides all the ingredients for the type of experiential vacations that its discerning and intellectually curious clientele demand.

That property, Rosewood Puebla, which will feature 79 guest rooms and suites, is scheduled to open next year.

“Our guests are sophisticated travelers, and they are interested in visiting destinations that offer authentic journeys of discovery,” said Radha Arora, president of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. “The diverse landscape of Mexico, particularly the settings where our properties are located, offer unique opportunities for our guests to become fully immersed in the Mexican culture.”

Puebla, of course, is no exception to that rule. “Puebla is renowned for its colonial architecture, traditional cuisine and colorful ceramics and offers endless opportunities for our guests to fully immerse themselves,” Arora said, adding that the city is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Puebla property will comprise a collection of buildings encircling a walled courtyard whose centerpiece is a 300-year-old chapel. It will house a restaurant, spa and two bars, one of which will be set on the roof along with a swimming pool. Like all Rosewood properties, the hotel will offer highly personalized service and top-of-the-line amenities.

To read more go to

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

BNP Tells Traders to Exploit El Nino With Mexico Inflation Wager

Brendan Case at BloombergBusiness writes, "With Mexico’s inflation rate sinking to a nine-year low this month, bond traders are naturally showing scant concern consumer prices will pick up any time soon.

That’s a mistake to BNP Paribas SA. It’s predicting El Nino -- a global weather pattern that typically causes droughts, wildfires and floods -- will reverse a slide in agricultural prices and boost the inflation rate in as little as six months. The Paris-based bank recommends investors bet on cost-of-living expectations rising in the bond market.

BNP has history on its side as past El Nino episodes have pushed up global food prices and fueled the biggest inflation surges in Mexico and Brazil, according to a paper last month by researchers at the International Monetary Fund and the University of Cambridge. An increase in the cost of food, which accounts for more than 20 percent of Mexico’s consumer price index, would help push up annual inflation from 2.93 percent in the first half of May.

“El Nino will be a fundamental factor, as this will represent an exogenous shock to the Mexican market,” BNP fixed-income strategists Gabriel Gersztein and Gustavo Mendonca said in an e-mail. “The Mexican market is not isolated from the rest of the world, so a rise in agricultural prices will naturally impact food prices in Mexico, leading markets to price in this effect.” For the rest of the article see

Monday, May 25, 2015

What are the best beaches in Michoacan, Mexico?

The question was asked on Quora and Brian Fey answered: As you likely suspect, the idea of "best" depends on what you like.

I love the Michoacan coast! The Michoacan coast used to be quite isolated prior to improvements to highway 37 and highway 200. It used to take 9 hours to get to the coast from Pátzcuaro.

There is a lot to discover for people who want to laze around on the beach under Palapas, swim in bays and lagoons, hang with hippies, birdwatch, surf, explore, or have a fun times with the family.

My experiences: I have driven the entire coast three times during the period of 2005 to 2014. One time I brought all the topographical maps from INEGI for the whole coast, a GPS, and the will to visit every little town and beach I could get into. I was traveling in a vehicle, but the coast is accessible by bus as well. Highway 200 winds a lot and down below there are many more beaches I could not explore easily. Each winter, if I don't go to the Michoacan coast, then I go to nearby Zijuatanejo. Seems like to best time to go to the coast is in January or February. The Best?

Read further at

TOP Ten Summer Getaways Around the World!

Today in World Property Journal Steve Winston, a Fort Lauderdale-based journalist who’s been writing about travel and tourism for 30 years, lists his TOP Ten Summer Getaways Around the World!

#10 THE RIVIERA MAYA, YUCATAN PENINSULA, MEXICO - The Riviera Maya offers a unique combination of ancient mysteries and modern luxury and natural wonders...along with some of the world's best beaches and perennial sunshine. Here, you can wander among the ruins of once-great Mayan civilizations such as Tulum; with over 60 well-preserved structures, it sits majestically overlooking the sea. Cobá is the highest pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula, filled with ancient temples and surrounded by jungle. Then there's the spectacular underground river of Rio Secreto (Secret River).

Astove-Lodge-offers-some-of-the-best-fishing-on-Earth.jpg Astove Lodge offers some of the best fishing on Earth. (Courtesy Frontiers International Travel)

My two favorite places to stay on the Mexican Riviera are the Hyatt Playa del Carmen, adjacent to the iconic Mamitas Beach and Playa del Carmen's famous 5th Avenue; and the Barceló Maya Beach Resort, which just finished an impressive $80 million renovation including swim-up suites, and sitting on a mile of white-sand beach.

Go to the web site to see Steve Winston other nine.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Garambullos Cacti, are Blooming

Dave Leland on Facebook pointed out that the endangered Garambullos cacti are blooming.

Photo by Dave Leland

Photo by Dave Leland

Quanaxhuato explains The rainy season in the summer, favors the ripening of fruits round tasty and unmistakable as the purple marble Garambullos of Guanajuato. Who among those who live in these parts has not delighted in his childhood with his taste between tuna and green grapes?

Myrtillocactus schenckii. / Photo:

In Guanajuato we have 23 genera and 100 species of cacti, of these, two are garambullos, belonging to the genus Myrtillocactus, Latin literally means 'blueberry cactus'. They are endemic plants of Mexico and Guatemala, which are perhaps the most representative of our natural environment. These are arborescent cacti stems 'ribbed' (segments laterally resemble ribs) with branches from the base or middle, and with 'branches' (single stem) upward. At the ecosystem level, they are characteristic plant elements of desert scrub, tropical deciduous forests, and less frequent grassland and oak forests. Sometimes they can be the predominant vegetable element and form communities called "garambullales". They live between 1000 and 2000 m altitude.

Myrtillocactus schenckii ('white garambullo') is the least abundant species in Guanajuato, its natural distribution is more dominant in the south (Puebla and Oaxaca). This species can grow to a height of 4-5 meters, forms a short stem branched stems, dark green, with upward outbreaks, up to 10 centimeters in diameter. Each stem has 7-8 'ribs' wide. They have a black single backbone, 5 cm long, surrounded by other blackish thorns 6 to 8, curves and from 5 to 12 mm long; at the base where these spines are it is whitish, hence its common name. Its flowers are whitish up to 4 cm in diameter and 2-3 cm long, reddish fruits that give spherical reaching up to 1.5 cm in diameter and can have small vestigial bones cover escazas, with brown or red pulp.

Myrtillocactus geometrizans is the common species of 'garambullo' in Guanajuato, is also called 'nuestro'y father' kiosk ', it is native to central and northern Mexico, distributed in Queretaro, Michoacan, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas, Hidalgo, Puebla, Veracruz, Nuevo Leon, Oaxaca, Tamaulipas and Guanajuato. This is kind of a big cactus shrub that usually grows about 4-5 m, and sometimes even reaches 7 m in height, with a branch candelabra in the manner of mature plants. His main stem is short. Individual stems (branches) are arched 6-10 cm in diameter, 5 (occasionally 6) ribs rounded margin areolas spaced 1.5-3 cm, light green or teal to be growing. They have radial spines ('groups') 4 to 5 0.2 to 3 cm long, long gray or red when young; with a backbone of 1-3 cm or up to 7 cm long and 2-4 (6) cm in diameter. The flowers are creamy white, 2-2.5 (3.5) cm in diameter. Its fruit is a purple berry globose 1-2 cm long and 0.8-2 cm wide, with purple pulp and seeds 1.5-2 mm long.

These cacti are endangered because they get cut down for housing or farming as when the farmers clear a field.

Mexpatriate — in the key of Steve

Steve Cotton, Barra de Navidad, Jalisco, Mexico, has written a piece on his blog about driving through the "Oregon Badlands Wilderness east of Bend. The "wilderness" designation is new. 2009, to be exact." Interesting article about the geology of the area est of Bend. I've beeb reading about Steve's adventures for years.

Return With Me to April 9, 2011

I'm re-publishing this post of over four years ago. Not too many were coming to this blog then.

Liz Davidson has a column in Forbes titled "A Great Retiree Migration Abroad is Not So Far Fetched." She writes
Millions of U.S citizens retire abroad; the State Department records that there are over 6.6 million Americans living abroad, many of them retirees (550,000 of them are military personnel and their families). This number has grown over 500% in the past 40 years and will probably continue to increase going forward.
I think Liz is exactly right! Baby boomers will be moving from the U.S. in something called a diaspora to escape to a warmer climate, sure, but really to escape the high cost of living, a financial system that is failing and ultimately the fear that the U.S. will impose all sorts of controls over our movements and movement of our assets.

The story of violence we read about in North American newspapers stopped travel to Mexico temporarily, but now hotel booking sights are seeing big increases.
Expedia revealed last week that travel bookings made to Mexico from its portfolio of global brands, which includes the Expedia and websites, were up nearly 25 percent in the last 12 months.
Returning to Liz Davidson, her piece looks at six considerations for retiring abroad:

Distance: For some long plane flights to and from family are a deal breaker. Davidson says consider shorter distances away and consider Skype. You may have more face time with Skype than you do now living in the same city. Also, remember, we have become such a mobile society that families are already spread across the country.

 If language is the problem, consider living in expat communities. If you can learn the language, you'll enjoy the country more.

Culture Shock:
To adapt to not only a new environment but also a new culture takes a flexible and adaptable personality type. So if you are the type that loves routine and predictability, you’d need to consider long and hard whether retiring abroad is for you.
Medical Care:
A resource to determine the quality and eligibility of medical care is to ask the expats that live there and are using the medical system. Look for expat forums such as the Future Expat Forum on LinkedIn .
Economic Stability/Inflation:
It is prudent to choose a country with a relatively low inflation rate or at least not one that is higher than ours.
Davidson has links to sources for this information.

Personal Safety:
Start with the U.S. State Department. Their website offers reports on terrorism as well as crime rates by country, broken down by counties. You can also post questions on some of the many expat blogs to gather the word literally from the street – Expat Exchange has hundreds of expat blogs.

I am interested in Mazatlan and am a member of the Mazinfo expat group and can ask any question about living in Mexico of the expats and always get good answers.

UPDATE: we have moved to San Miguel, after investigating Puerto Vallarta.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Mexican Literature

Mexico News Daily is just one option for Spanish-challenged expatriates and others with an interest in reading about Mexico: the Scottish Book Trust has come up with 10 others.

The 10 options offer readers the opportunity to take a tour through Mexico with some “fantastic works,” says the Trust: all are novels written by Mexican writers and translated into English.

This country has been producing some very good work, it says, but is often seen as an after-thought in Latin American literature. Colombia has Gabriel García Marquez and Brazil boasts Paulo Coehlo, for example. Literature by Mexican writers, on the other hand, instead of hitting the Engish-speaking world with a huge splash, produces just a quiet ripple.

The 10 recommended books are described as “wonderful novels that you should get to know.” Here, then, to help make a bit of a splash, are the books in question, along with some descriptions from the Trust and others. - See more at:

Pueblos Magicos

The Magical Towns of Mexico Program, developed by the Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with various government agencies and state and municipal governments, contributing to reassess a whole population of the country that have always been in the collective imagination of the nation as a whole and representing fresh and different for domestic and foreign visitors alternatives. More than a rescue, it is a recognition of those who inhabit these beautiful places in the Mexican geography and have managed to keep to all the cultural and historical riches they contain.

One Pueblos Magicos is near San Miguel.

People Peña de Bernal Queretaro Magic Town Magic Towns

Lost in time, this small town has been recognized as magic for the beauty of its buildings and its colorful, home to legends and breathtaking scenery. Bernal word is of Arabic origin and means rock. Thanks to its unique Peña and the rescue of the urban image, in February 2006, he was awarded the category of magical town.

San Sebastian Bernal is the full name of the town which houses the world's third largest, after the Rock of Gibraltar and Sugarloaf Brazil monolith. the cobbled streets, landscape and crafts in Bernal makes time stand still to admire frayed, blankets and tablecloths made in looms with 100 years old.

It was founded in 1642 by several Spanish families that took possession of the land, it has beautiful buildings dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that preserve architectural styles of singular beauty. Ancient flowery balconies and lanterns give life to this magical town in the charming craft shops which display spectacular and laborious tablecloths and blankets made on looms of 100 years old.

There are 83 Pueblos Magicos. I intend to explore each one.


Go down Canal and across the railroad tracks and soon you will come to the development called Otomi. This weekend Jaguar is sponsoring the Horse Jumping Competition. The big winner wins a Jag. We watched the competition and took pictures of the horse jumping and then stopped at La Trinidad for lunch. The weather is warm and sunny with big fluffy, white clouds. Lots of people, mostly Mexicans, attended. There are some beautiful people involved with horses and great little kids.

Otomi Grand Prix Horse ShowPrintNational horse jumping competition with the best horses and riders from all over Mexico. Show is run by Federacion Ecuestre Mexicana with winners receiving new cars, cash and other prizes. One of the largest shows in Mexico. Wonderful way to enjoy the beauty of Otomi, a residential community, and the excitement of horse jumping. It’s FREE!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Southern Litfest Highlight: John Warley

author John Warley will talk about his new book, “A Southern Girl.” 
Southern Litfest is coming to Newnan June 5-6 to celebrate Southern literature and hospitality.

Authors and performers are scheduled for the two-day event, which will take place at various locations throughout downtown Newnan. Highlights of the festival will include:

A Southern Girl,” a compelling novel of adopting a Korean baby into an aristocratic Charleston family by John Warley, Virginia lawyer turned author – book signing follows in the old courthouse courtroom in downtown Newnan, 1:30-2:30 p.m.

Warley, a native South Carolinian, is a 1967 graduate of the Citadel. He was a roommate of author Pat Conroy, and they still enjoy meeting once a week for lunch. Warley obtained his law degree at the University of Virginia Law School and practiced law in Virginia until 1993, when he moved to Mexico to write and teach. Now a full-time writer, Warley divides his time between Beaufort, South Carolina, and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He and his late wife, Barbara, have three sons, Caldwell, Nelson, and Carter, and a daughter, Mary Beth, born in Seoul, South Korea.

It was during the process of adopting and raising his Korean daughter that Warley drew his inspiration for “A Southern Girl,” his third book. At the same time, he is quick to point out that the story in the novel is not her story. “Her story is certainly interesting, and if one day the story is told, it will be told by her not me.”

The inspiration provided by his daughter has garnered praise from Warley’s peers.

“Set against the exquisite, historical backdrop of Charleston's insular South of Broad neighborhood, ‘A Southern Girl’ is a tale of international adoption and of families lost, then found anew through revelations, courage, and the perseverance of a love without bounds,” wrote “New York Times” best-selling novelist Therese Anne Fowler’s in the foreword of Warley’s book.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Best Latin American Photography

Mauricio Lima of Brazil has been named Photographer of the Year in the third Pictures of the Year Latin America contest. Daniele Volpe who is based in Guatemala was awarded second place and Alejandro Cegarra of Venezuela took third in the same category, while Daniel Rodriguez of Portugal was awarded an honorable mention.

The biennial contest was started in 2011 by the photographers Loup Langton and Pablo Corral Vega to celebrate and promote photography in Latin America. This year’s judging was held in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Lake Juriquilla, Queretaro, MX

Today is Sue Reid's birthday and we celebrated by having cake and ice cream before dinner. Then four of us picked up Rock, an ex-banker, and headed for Lake Juriquilla, Queretaro, MX. The town of Juriquilla is small and forms the northernmost part of the city of Querétaro in Querétaro, Mexico. "It was founded originally as a hacienda in the 18th century, and fractioned into a golf course and residential area in the 1970s."
Wikipedia says that Juriquilla has always been known as a residential area. A ten minute drive from downtown puts Juriquilla far enough to avoid the city common problems, such as traffic jams, but close enough to enjoy all of the city's advantages. During the last decade, Juriquilla has slowly been recognized as an investment opportunity area, due to the prices of the land and the arrival of many people from Mexico City. However, Juriquilla's population has grown enough as to suffer from traffic problems when inhabitants leave their homes for their jobs, which are usually located in Santiago de Querétaro or El Marqués, or when returning home. There is a lake in Juriquilla, formed by a dam and five or six different restaurants sit right on the little lake. You cannot see them from the parking lot of the Centro Nautico but once inside you can stroll along an interior boardwalk and find the one that suits y our appetite and pocketbook.

We chose first to have a drink at the Rattle Snake. You sit just above the lake and attentive waiters bring your bebidas drinks and free appetizers. Then we went down some stairs to the lake level and dined at Porto Buzios, a seafood and lobster restaurant. The five of us ordered drinks. It was happy hour or two for one if you chose cervasa beer or tequila. Then we ordered salmon, blackened salmon, mahi mahi, oysters Rockefeller and mussels. y salmon was grilled and came with puree de papa mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. The food was good, but wasn't the best I've ever had. However the atmosphere was wonderful. The lake was calm and we looked across the dam to Querétaro. Around the lake were spendy houses. It reminded me of Lake Oswego.

All the way to Juriquilla, the clouds built. Huge white clouds that seemed to reach effortlessly into the sky. We knew what was coming. As we ate dinner the sky turned almost black and lightning started to appear in the distance. Drops of lluvia rain fell as we reached the car for the drive home. Then all the way to San Miguel the most spectacular, brilliant lightning flashed across the sky. As we neared the city fireworks filled the air. They were awesome, but didn't compare to nature's fireworks.

That's Rock. From all of us, Happy Birthday Sue.

BTW Dinner was 1592 pesos plus 300 peso tip or about $130 for the five of us. One more thing, it is easy to get lost looking for the lake. Watch for the signs to Juriquilla.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Study Abroad: Budget For Mexico

The Guadalajara Metropolitan Zone is the second largest national hub in terms of commerce and the third largest by volume of industrial production.

Marjorie A. Cohen writing at Investopedia tells us that, "At a summit last year with the presidents of Canada, the United States and Mexico, President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico proposed a plan to increase the number of U.S. students in Mexico from the present figure of just over 4,000 to the seemingly astronomical figure of 50,000 by 2018. Recently the government of Mexico and other interested parties have prevailed upon the State Department to issue region-specific advisories, making it possible for students and their parents to choose safe destinations in that country. It is hoped that this will avoid a wholesale rejection of Mexico as a travel/study destination.

For the budget-minded student, Mexico is an inexpensive place to study and live. Numbeo, the popular cost-of-living comparison website, calculates that consumer prices in Mexico City are 58% lower than in New York City and rent is 83% lower. In the smaller cities of Mexico, the cost differential would be even more dramatic.

Transportation to and from Mexico is also quite a bit less expensive than other more far-flung destinations for U.S. students. A useful site for discount flights to Mexico for students is STA Travel where we found round-trip flights from NYC to Mexico City (September to December) for under $500.

According to, the most popular cities with U.S. students going to Mexico to study are Cuernavaca, Guadalajara, Mexico City, Monterrey, Oaxaca, Playa del Carmen, Puebla and Tulum.

That same website offers “Ten Bueno Reasons to Study Abroad in Mexico.” One is price: “Not only are the program costs in Mexico generally lower than comparable programs in Europe, but the cost of living there is extremely low, too. This allows students more opportunities for cultural activities, extracurriculars and travel.” Another is the fact that “they’re our neighbors: their culture, language and people have a huge impact on the United States.”

The official website of the Secretaría de Educación Pública of Mexico suggests yet another reason to study in that country: “According to the latest survey conducted by has undergraduate institutions that are deemed part of the most relevant and prestigious in this dynamic and emerging region called Latin America.”

The article goes on to cover:

  • The Bottom Line - It is important to be realistic about the safety of traveling into Mexico for a study abroad opportunity, but if you are guided by the U.S. Department of State's specific travel advisories you should be able to find an affordable program in a peaceful part of the country that will enhance your career prospects. As Allan Goodman, CEO and president of IIE, points out: “Globalization makes study abroad absolutely necessary for graduates. One in five American jobs in today’s market is tied to international trade.”

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sleep tight! Hotels help kids gets zzzzs

El Paso has an article about hotels are helping parents with children when they are traveling. Experts say "...that children often do not sleep as well when traveling, and such industrywide initiatives such as the following are needed. Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island, Hawaii, for example, recently introduced a children’s turndown service with a cultural dimension: Parents can read stories of Pele, the goddess of volcanoes and the creator of the Hawaiian Islands, to their children from flashcards, free to Lagoon Tower guests.

The Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island in Florida has a “Pirate Tuck In” bedtime story option with costumed actors as well as a real blue and gold macaw, homemade cookies and milk, and a faux treasure chest that is brought to the room to familiarize children with the island’s buccaneer history.

At the RiverPlace hotel in Portland, Oregon, “Bedtime Butlers” pay visits at random, bringing surprises that include books, robes, hot chocolate and stuffed animals four nights a week.

The Lorien Hotel and Spa in Alexandria, Virginia, has a “Dream Service Menu” that includes a library stocked with children’s titles like Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”; guests are free to borrow books along with night lights and humidifiers.

Photo provided by Rosewood Hotels & Resorts via The New York Times

Rosewood San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, a Cocoon Massage employs a natural lavender patch to soothe the nervous system. GoldenEye in Jamaica recently introduced a children’s spa menu with a relaxing soak in an outdoor tub, followed by a full-body massage.

San Miguel dining: farm to table at De Temporada

Kay of the couple Frank and Kay, told me this morning about De Temporada Farm Restaurant out by Otomi. Took a while to find information. Billie Frank and Steve Collins wrote about the restaurant in their blog Santa Fe Travelers.

"The mostly outdoor restaurant was built by hand using recycled materials including 90 wooden packing skids. Paint choices are bright and the mostly open-air restaurant is welcoming. “Funky” was the word that came to mind when I first saw it. It took me back to hippie cafes in the late 60s and early 70s. If you’re a food-lover but are a décor snob, get past it. The food is well worth it! Chef/owner Iliana Lanuza gets that some people are put off. “It’s like Marmite,” she jokes. “You either love it or hate it.”

We can't wait to try their soups and sandwiches.

Organic Market San Miguel de Allende

The Mexican Food Journal describes one of our favorite Saturday morning activities:


When you visit San Miguel de Allende you must visit the Organic Farmer’s Market (Tianguis Orgánico) which takes place every Saturday from 9:00am to 3:00pm. The market is divided into two parts, the food stands and the produce and prepared foods market. We always arrive early to eat and then do our shopping for the week.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Food-Truck Rules of Mexico: Eat Cheaply and Safely

Paula Froelich at Yahoo Travel tells us that "It’s a weird, fun fact: The best food in Mexico is most likely found on the street, sold out of a shanty-like stall or the back of a truck. Dodgy as it may sound, street eating isn’t just for intrepid travelers with stomachs of steel. Thanks to the proliferation of local food tours (which show you not just the best places to eat, but how to select your stand), it’s now for everyone. "

These tacos sold out in seconds.

She has two rules for eating street meat read more at

The Curious Traveler Goes To San Miguel De Allende

Jim Worsham of the Long Beach Gazettes writes about his two week visit to San Miguel:

—Gazette photo by Jim Worsham

Concerned about safety when traveling to Mexico? Don’t worry! Mexico still offers many great stimulating, affordable and safe travel opportunities.

High on my list is San Miguel de Allende — one of Mexico’s best kept secrets.

Culture abounds in San Miguel de Allende, often referred to simply as San Miguel, or even abbreviated as “SMA.” The city has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Site.

San Miguel is isolated in the highlands of Central Mexico. Perhaps that’s part of its attraction and mystique. Its pleasant year-round climate is an added bonus.

From Southern California, fly into Leon Airport in the state of Guanajuato and take a reasonably-priced 90-minute shuttle ride into town.

With plenty of activities and amenities to entice them, the town — with a population of about 80,000 — has attracted as many as 12,000 American and Canadian expatriates to retire there. That’s a significant 15% of the population.

The lifestyle is casual, and somewhat Bohemian, filled with numerous educational opportunities. Art, music, cooking and language schools are everywhere.

The famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera was born in nearby Guanajuato and did much of his work in San Miguel.

My wife and I rented an apartment in San Miguel for two weeks. I took Spanish classes at a language school and she took classes at a cooking school — both schools near our “hacienda.” The morning classes left plenty of time to explore.

Downtown we visited museums, art shows and a huge library that boasts a large collection of English language books, all nestled among buildings constructed in the Mexican Baroque style of architecture.

The crown jewel is the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel — the Parish Church — built in a Gothic Baroque style overlooking the Central Plaza where everything happens — especially in the evenings and on weekends.

We saw parades, wedding processions, costumed mimes and acrobats, mariachis, dancers, school ceremonies, street vendors, military exhibitions and more. All taking place right in front of the Parroquia!

At other times we only saw a few locals strolling to the bus stop around the corner.

Check out the live, 24-hour webcam that focuses on the Central Plaza at

You can’t see them, but to the left of the webcam scene is the Parroquia and to the right is the Central Plaza with a huge gazebo stage in the center. You will have to go there to see the rest of the scene.

Renting a car might sound like a good idea for your visit — but it’s not. I was warned before going that, “A car will only get in the way and probably never be used.” I took the advice and it was true.

Even though there are no traffic lights in San Miguel, the streets are narrow and traffic moves slowly. Besides, parking is a real problem.

Colorful cobblestoned streets beg you to walk on them instead of the narrow sidewalks. San Miguel is a walking city. A typical street scene looks like a picture ripped from the pages of a fairy tale.

Safety warning. Cobblestones are difficult to walk on, a lesson many visitors learn the hard way. Every day you will see some poor soul walking around with a cast — on an arm, wrist, ankle or leg.

A convenient alternative is the local bus. Bus fare is only five pesos, currently that’s about 30 cents. Most passengers are local residents who don’t mind sharing a seat, and of course, you can always take a taxi.

My final appraisal is this — “I hope to return to San Miguel de Allende!”

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Today In San Miguel

We are now temporary residentes. We can stay here a year and don't have to return to the states each six months. All we have to do is renew each year for a fee. We have decided to instead apply for Residente. No more fees once it is granted, we would qualify for government health insurance at $300 mas o menos more or less each year. We would also qualify for senior citizen status, much like senior citizen discounts in the US. One drawback to resident is the car would have to be taken back to US and sold.

Living here is unique. At 6:30 to 7:00 a man walks down the street clanging a bell of some kind to announce the garbage truck is coming. I, hurriedly, put on shoes, unlock the door, and grab the bags of trash. Then I go outside and wait with my neighbors. "Buenas diaz, Maria," I say. I help the little old lady across the street carry her garbage and lift it up to the men in the truck. Then it's back to bed.
Around 10:00 a truck comes up and honks his horn. It's the milk truck delivered the old, old fashioned way. A neighbor comes out with a bucket for his milk which is dipped out of a big milk can. We get our milk at MEGA, the big supermarket packaged like the milk in the US. The big difference, you can buy milk refrigerated or in boxes that sit on a shelf.

At night around 8:00 or so, a man pushes a cart up the street yelling something that sounds strangely like an inmate in an asylum might yell. I don't know what he is saying, but he is either selling nuts or corn nuts or ears of corn.

Lately, around six, black clouds roll in and you first see lightening then thunder directly overhead. The uvia comes down in sheets and the wind blows, then come morning everything is dry and sunny. We were dining one night at El Pergaso. We could see the buildup. It was warm on the upstairs terrace, out in the open watching the sunset, We finished our dinner and the skies opened up as we paid our check.

Tonight we ate at Hecho. Sue Reid invited another couple to dinner with us. Their names were Jan and Roger Capps. The name didn't mean much, but the surprise was Jan and I went to Madison High together. I recognized her right away, but had to ask her name. Roger knew Sue from the U of O, Now it turns out that Roger is the brother of Doug Capps who lived down the street from us in Portland. Liz and Doug Capps on 32nd Ave. I said we have some friends in PDX who are Ducks and asked if they knew Mike and Patsy McKelligon. Jan said of course we were sorority sisters at Alpha Phi. Well, I said the McKelligon's son Kevin married my daughter, Gilyn. Sue said she knew Patsy's sister, Libby.

Only in San Miguel. BTW we asked where they are staying and they are staying in the same complex that our friends Marsha & Darryl are renting for the winter here beginning in November

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

San Miguel Artist Angus Macaulay tells us about "An exhibition entitled “Mostly Maine” by Angus Macaulay will be on display at the Kennebunk Free Library in the Speers Gallery through Monday, June 22. The public is invited to view the exhibit during regular library hours (Monday and Tuesday 9:30 a.m. - 8 p.m., Wednesday 12:30 - 8 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.)"

(Note: The first picture here is on Zacatero, and the second sure looks like our front door on Umaran.)

Umaran #66???
“The exhibit Mostly Maine features work I have completed over the past two decades-most of which includes scenes of the rural lake region that surround Moosehead Lake as well as a bit of our coast," said Macaulay. "Three pieces were painted in Mexico, including two painted this past March while I concentrated on working with a pallet knife.

"Like most artists, my work continues to evolve, however, what interests me most and is likely to remain consistent in my work is the use of intense colors and the implication that light has on those colors. That’s why so much of my work will generally include bold colors and value changes in those colors as a result of direct sun, shadows or reflections of ambient light. I try to keep my subjects relatively simple while attempting to blend a degree of impressionism with photorealism.”

Macaulay is a lifelong cartoonist with some secondary school training. In 1995 he began to study on a weekly basis with Robert Scott Jackson, a Master of the Copley Society. He continues to spend two hours each week, eight months a year under Jackson’s guidance. From 2004 to 2009, while in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for the winter, he worked with Keith Keller. For the last two years has been with Donna Dickson. “Besides being superb teachers, all three are successful working artists. I don’t think I could ever stop working with another artist simply because they offer great advice and are unvarnished critics of my work,” said Macaulay.

“Mostly Maine” will be highlighted in the first ArtWalk Kennebunk of the season on Friday, June 19, from 5 to 8 p.m. The Kennebunk Free Library is pleased and honored to be able to present the works of this talented artist.

San Miguel Artist Wynona Mulcaster

Works from Prince Albert-born artist Wynona Mulcaster on display at Arts Centre

Though the landscapes of Saskatchewan and Mexico would appear to have little to do with one another, artist Wynona “Nonie” Mulcaster drew inspiration from both.

© Herald photo by Kristen McEwen Emma Anderson curated Wynona Mulcaster's Paintings on Paper collection that is currently on display at the John V. Hicks Gallery at the Prince Albert Arts Centre. The display will remain at the centre until May 23.

Kristen McEwen of the Prince Albert Daily Heralld writes, "A number of paintings on paper by the Prince Albert-born artist are currently on display at the John V. Hicks Gallery at the Prince Albert Arts Centre."

“(Mulcaster) was deeply involved with the landscapes,” said Emma Anderson who curated the display. “(The paintings) are featuring things seen around Prince Albert here. This was a favourite spot of hers.”

The paintings are part of the 98-piece collection donated to the Mann Art Gallery by Mulcaster herself.

Anderson said other paintings feature landscapes from the area of San Miguel de Allende in Mexico -- an area she moved to in 1977 and still resides today.

“The way that she uses space and colour -- when she was an artist, there were ideas of post-painterly abstraction everywhere,” Anderson said. “So she remained a landscape artist at the heart of it.”

During that time, other artists had often dismissed Mulcaster’s work, as they viewed to be of lesser importance.

“I think that the way other artists were getting kind of crazy with the way they were using colour -- crazy, I mean in terms of geometric abstract,” Anderson said.

“I think she learned from that,” she added. “She applied it in a way that as really specific to what she was doing, which is landscapes.”

Anderson noted that Mulcaster showed her personality through her work.

“She was a person who loved being in the landscape, living with the land and being out on horseback … I think you can really tell from these works what importance she placed on the emotion behind that.”

Aside from Mulcaster’s subject choice, Anderson added that the artists’ choice of media was revealing as well.

“Paper is just one of those medias that is very affordable,” she said. “It’s really cool to see creative finish using something so simple.”

Wynona Mulcaster’s Paintings on Paper collection will be on display at the John V. Hicks Gallery at the Prince Albert Arts Centre until May 23.

@KristenMcEwen •

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

They're Establishing a Presence in San Miguel de Allende.

Top: Telmo Faria (left) and Joe Hargrave; Bottom: Donnie MastertonCarolyn Alburger/Eater SF

San Francisco Eater has an article by   about Tekmo Faria and his plans for San Miguel:

Tacolicious' executive chef and partner, Telmo Faria, has been a part of the restaurant's growth since the beginning, but as of this month, he's departing the burgeoning mini-chain, which has grown to four locations under his watch. According to owner Joe Hargrave, Faria has decided to step down to pursue his longtime dream of opening a Portuguese restaurant (he's a native of the Azores). Hargrave says the split was amicable, and Faria will "always be a part of the Tacolicious family and one of my closest friends." Those looking to check out Faria's next move should hit up his forthcoming Portuguese pop-up at Merigan Sub Shop, to be held on May 24.

To help fill Faria's shoes, Hargrave has joined forces with chef Donnie Masterton, with whom he worked at Rose Pistola and LuLu, among other restaurants. In recent years, Masterton, who's also an alum of Tavern on the Green and Montrachet, has earned acclaim for his upscale The Restaurant, located in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. As part of the new collaboration, Tacolicious will open a small restaurant, the Tacolicious Taco Lab, in San Miguel de Allende, with Masterton as executive chef; it'll be the company's first project outside of both the Bay Area and the U.S.

Hargrave's plan is to have quarterly confabs and tests with Masterton about new menu items, then bring him up to the Bay Area to help institute them at each of Tacolicious' locations. Masterton is already at work on developing new ceviches, gorditas, and panuchos for Tacolicious' upcoming menus.

The Tacolicious Taco Lab won't open until late 2015 (its exact location is also under wraps), but in the meantime, Hargrave will be visiting San Miguel de Allende for next month's Sabores San Miguel, a food festival organized by Masterton and featuring the likes of Carlo Mirarchi and Neal Fraser.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Can't Stop Thinking About The Girl From Veracruz

5.0 out of 5 stars Can't Stop Thinking About The Girl From Veracruz May 10, 2015

By Mike D. Landfair

Format:Kindle Edition

You know what you are going get with a John Scherber novel. The Paul Zacher detective agency, Paul, his girl friend Maya, retired ex-cop and sidekick Cody, and a murder, one or more, to solve. If you haven't experienced San Miguel or Mexico, Scherber exposes you to the culture, the corruption, and the beauty of San Miguel. You will always learn something new about some aspect of Mexico and wonder where does Scherber get his ideas.In this case a young girl turns up dead in a part of San Miguel that caters to the more fortunate. The police sweep the death under the rug, but Maya takes the death personally and wants to flush out the culprit and bring the corrupting influence to bay.Since Paul Zacher is a painter, I always enjoy seeing the world through his eyes.I think this is his best work yet. The scene with the Rose the water-colorist stays with you.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Shadow Of The Wind

We had dinner last night with Dave and Cheryl Lelands at Don Felix's last night. When we made plans to get together, we didn't realize the day was Dave's birthday. During the evening they mentioned a trip to Barcelona. I remembered a writer who described living in the city he loved. He described the tree-lined walkway that assended a hill. Cheryl said, "Oh, you mean the Ramblas." Yes that was it and I asked if she'd been there. She said no, but she had read about the area in preparation of their visit.

The Ramblas was described in the book " of "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. The book was written in Spanish and years later translated into English.

I had an opportunity to attend a reading and interview of Carlos Ruiz Zafon at the Baghdad theater in south east Portland. Here's an edited version of what I wrote back then:

"Carlos Ruiz Zafon author of "The Shadow of the Wind" and now "The Angels Game" is about 45 and a little roly-polly. He was interviewed by a man from Tin House. The event was sponsored by Powell's books for the price of $19 each. The large audience sat enthralled while Zafon talked about writing and his books. We each received a free autographed copy of "The Angels Game."

"Like Phillip Margolin, Zafon does not just sit down and begin to write, watching the letters spew from his pen. He believes in outlining his novel in advance. His outline is built with images. He alluded to beginning a war. You place your units with their various specialties, then when the war begins you make changes and adjust. The perfect plan is only perfect until you throw everything out.

"When he begins to write from his outline, his job then is to add texture. He writes in his native language, Spanish, which is translated to English later when the book is complete. That process can take up to three years, so if we only know English, we are three years behind the Spanish speaking.

"The Angels Game" is the second in his four book series he plans to write from a writers perspective. This novel takes place in the 20s and 30s. It is filled with the sick undercurrent of chaos that led to the Spanish civil war and eventually broke out in Europe as WWII. I wanted to ask if he sees any parallels between the pre-civil war period in Spain to the world at large today. Maybe, I will email him.

"He's lived in so many places that he considers himself a man of the world, rather than a Spaniard or Los Angelino. He talked about getting away from a subject to write about it. He put his hand up close to his nose and tried to describe it. He couldn't. He couldn't even see if it was attached to something, but pull it away and he gains perspective; the ability to describe its lines, whirls, color and function. In a sentence he urged me to leave Portland (for Mexico) by saying if "one never leaves we can never understand it."

"I am convinced many writers write not only to put their thoughts into words, but to talk about themselves. It is an ego trip to have 500 people hang on your words and buy your books and dissect your thinking. Zafon, while modest, seemed to enjoy the evening."

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

"The Fifth Codex" By John Scherber

"The Fifth Codex" is the second in the murder series by John Scherber. Scherber lives in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico and he brings his knowledge of the city into his books. When you are drawn to this city by his descriptions, you can walk the streets he walked and dine at the restaurants where he dined, and walk Quebrada from Canal to Pila Seca.  Scherber makes this expat favorite city the centerpiece of his novel. The reason, he recently said an interview, is the "...exotic backdrop with a lot of color and history."

The Fifth Codex - 342 pages Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc. (Published September 19, 2010)

The main character is Paul Zacher, a painter, who with his long time Mexican, girlfriend Maya, and friend Cody, an ex-policeman from Peoria get innocently roped into a deadly situation involving a Codex that could inflame Mayan separatists.

A codex is a book constructed of a number of sheets of paper or similar material with hand-written content. The book is usually bound by stacking the pages and fixing one edge. Some codices are continuously folded like a concertina. Examples of folded codices are the Maya codices

Scherber not only gives you a taste of San Miguel, but a flavor for the Mexican culture. Each book is sprinkled with Mexican history, but not so much as to take away from the story. Scherber  describes his "...villains as flawed people, not demons or monsters. "I’m interested in the way they rationalize the crimes they commit."

"The Fifth Codex" is a page turner. Scherber is a fine writer with a witty take on events as they happen. Available in Paperback or on Kindle.