Saturday, June 27, 2015

The tabletop as art display space: Ceramic mosaic tops by Furthur

The LA Times today reports that for some time "...tables with ceramic-tiled tops have often been relegated to patio and pool areas — strictly outdoors.

But that's changing, says Michelle Arias, who, with her husband, Raymond, opened Furthur on Sunset Boulevard 20 years ago. Tables adorned with 4-by-4-inch Mexican azulejos (ceramic wall tiles) are now in-home worthy because the quality of the tiles that she gets in Dolores Hidalgo, about a 40-minute drive north from San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico, has so vastly improved.

Azulejos can be traced to Moorish influences in the Iberian peninsula. Both there and in Mexico they became an obvious status statement — ornamental wall art that also functioned as a temperature moderator. Azulejos turned up on walls, floors, ceilings and were featured in churches and royal mansions

Read More Here

Melting Glaciers Revealing More Than Bare Earth

A mummified body photographed on March 5, 2015 is the body of a man discovered by Mexican alpinists on Pico de Orizaba, Mexico. Ice melting on the mountain caused by global warming exposed the mummy. ISRAEL ANGEL MIJANGOS — EPA/EFE

Read more here:

CIUDAD SERDAN, MEXICO — As a result of warming temperatures, Mexico’s tallest volcano, Pico de Orizaba, is performing an all-natural striptease, the ice patches near its summit melting away to bare rock.

The same process is taking place in the permafrost of Russia, the ice fields of the Yukon and the glaciers of New Zealand. And as the once-frozen world emerges from slumber, it’s yielding relics, debris – and corpses – that have laid hidden for decades, even millennia.

The thaw has unnerved archaeologists, given hope to relatives of lost mountain climbers and solved the mysteries of old plane crashes.

What emerges is not always apparent – or even pleasant. That pungent smell? It’s a massive deposit of caribou dung in the Yukon that had been frozen for thousands of years, and now is decomposing in the air, its sharp odor unlocked.

Pico de Orizaba towers above all other mountains in Mexico at 18,491 feet. It is the highest peak in North America after Mount McKinley in Alaska and Mount Logan in Canada’s Yukon Territory. A challenging dormant volcano, Orizaba is a training ground for those interested in high-altitude climbing.

For a handful of climbers, it has been their last peak. They’ve been buried by avalanches or swallowed by crevasses. Now, the mountain is spitting back their bodies.

Late in February, a climbing party circled the jagged crater atop Orizaba.

“One of them slipped, and they later said he skidded down and came to a stop. When he got up, he saw a head poking out of the snow,” said Hilario Aguilar Aguilar, a veteran climber.

It was a mummified climber, a member of a Mexican expedition hit by an avalanche on Nov. 2, 1959. Some climbers fell near the Chimicheco Ridge, their bodies frozen in an icy time machine, only to re-emerge 56 years later.

Hearing of the macabre discovery, prosecutors dispatched Aguilar and other climbers March 4 to document the scene of death.

“Upon clearing away some snow so that I could take some photographs, I saw another hand. Suddenly, there were one, two, three hands. It didn’t seem possible. Digging a little more, we discovered that there was another body,” Aguilar said.

The natural fiber rope connecting the two bodies had disintegrated to little more than a stain in the ice, he added. Aguilar said one of the mummified climbers appeared to be wearing remnants of a red sweater.

“I tried to bring a piece as a sample, for evidence, but it turned to dust when I touched it,” he said, adding that the mummified bodies are unlikely to be retrieved from the mountain until weather clears, perhaps in November.

Read More here

Friday, June 26, 2015

Stained Glass Artist Stanley Levinson

One of San Miguel's artists is showing his work in Vail. Stained glass artist Stanley Levinson is 82 and worked in stained glass since the age of 10.

For the past 15 years, Levinson and Carole have spent a lot of their time in the artist colony San Miguel de Allende, a UNESCO World Heritage colonial city in central Mexico. There they stayed at a casita on the estate of Canadian artist and Olympic champion ice skater Toller Cranston.

“One day, while walking the cobblestone streets, I discovered a shop that made and sold stained glass,” Levinson said. He signed up for three months of classes and adopted the name CaraStan Stained Glass Design.

His pieces are contemporary and fun, with bright colors and clean lines that appeal to the eye.

“I love the way the light changes the colors of the glass during the day and into twilight,” Levinson said. “I plan to continue working at this art form for as long as I can.”

Mavis Davis Breaks Into Detective Business

My First Murder: A Mavis Davis Mystery (Mavis Davis Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Edition)


From a former Judge, a Texan and a part-time resident of San Miguel comes a writer who has invented a new detective named Mavis Davis, a likable character, who was a probation officer and now a process server and detective waiting for her first client. In walks Carl. Carl owns a diner and had fallen in love with a new, mysterious waitress, Doris Jones who was just murdered. The police think she was killed by a serial killer, but Carl thinks otherwise and hires Mavis to find out the truth. There are clues throughout and red herrings. Mavis, is the focus, and this reader wanted to know more about her and why she hangs out with her boyfriend and cop, Ben. The office staff promise lots of mischief for future books. I want to read more about Mavis. She has guts.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Detective Emilia Cruz Hollywood Bound

In an email Carmen Amato announces that Detective Emilia Cruz, her never-ending string of lieutenants, surly partner Franco Silvio, and gringo boyfriend Kurt Rucker, are leaving Acapulco and heading for Hollywood.

"In May 2015, I signed a contract selling the film rights to the Detective Emilia Cruz police procedural series, including books CLIFF DIVER, HAT DANCE, and DIABLO NIGHTS, to director and screenwriter Emily Skopov. Currently working with producers Michael Keyes of Something Kreative, and Zack Stentz (screenwriter "Thor", "X-Men: First Class") to set up production on "Three Rivers," a Pittsburgh-set gritty true-crime thriller co-written with Eddie Richey ("Phoenix"), Emily Skopov is best known for her work on such TV fare as "Xena: Warrior Princess," SyFy's "Farscape," and the indie feature "Novel Romance."

"Before signing on the dotted line, Emily and I discussed the vibe and quality of a movie or television series, maintaining the books’ authenticity, possible casting, film locations, the music (!), and alternatives to filming on location in Acapulco. Once we agreed on what we deemed were the critical issues, the lawyers negotiated terms and deadlines.

"Many authors seek to sell rights to a studio but working with a screenwriter cut the worry of whether or not the studio will ever get to the script stage, plus the contract gives me a consulting role. Had I sold the film rights to a studio, the project could have languished “in development” for a number of years. Instead, this contract has milestones built in to keep that from happening. A studio could have assigned the screenplay to a writer who knows nothing about Mexico. No worries there. Emily was actively looking for a project with a strong female character with ties to Mexico. She speaks Spanish, has visited Mexico, and is equally as passionate about the impact of cartel violence.

"Another key factor in the decision to work with Emily was our shared vision that the Detective Emilia Cruz book series can be the basis for an entertainment franchise appealing to both English and Spanish speakers throughout the Western Hemisphere. Here are the factors we considered:

"1. Dramatic Setting: Acapulco is an iconic location, and will play the same role for the Emilia Cruz series as does Hawaii for the “Hawaii 5-0” television show. Acapulco has greater depth to explore, however, because of the huge disparity in lifestyles and neighborhoods clustered around the most beautiful bay in the world. Skyscrapers and slums represent the two versions of Acapulco. Emilia Cruz is forced to survive between them.

"2. Premise with Multiple Possibilities: Detective shows are perennial favorites in the US. This one has a twist; Emilia Cruz is the first and only female detective on the Acapulco police force. She’s got drug cartels, Mexico’s culture of machismo, and the country’s murky law enforcement landscape to navigate. Especially in episodic television, these tensions can be built, layered, and exploited in the way that “House of Cards” has done so successfully. 3. Embraceable Central Character: Viewers love characters with whom they identify and the underdog is a classic favorite. Emilia Cruz’s backstory plays into this aspect of audience resonance. Her father, a chauffeur, was killed when she was a toddler. Her mother had a mental breakdown. Emilia grew up on the streets of Acapulco and fought her way into the police ranks and up the ladder to the detective squadroom, even as she parented her own mother.

4. The Latino Audience: Emily Skopov noted in a recent press release that “The time is right for an entertainment franchise that puts Latino characters center stage in substantial, complex and diverse roles that transcend simplistic categorizations.” We think the Latino audience, with its growing economic power yet lack of Hollywood vehicles, will embrace Detective Emilia Cruz. Advertising Age recently reported that Latino spending in the media market rose 8.1% to $8.3 billion from 2013 to 2014.

5. Transcending Boundaries: While the Emilia Cruz books reveal a spectrum of Latino individuals and lifestyles, they also incorporate a diverse cast that reflects Acapulco’s role as a tourism and investment crossroads. This diversity will help build a loyal audience. Emilia’s boyfriend, a hotel manager from New York, is a key character. Other opportunities for diversity include global businesses and investors, visiting cruise ship staff, tourists from around the world, etc. Relationships and motives in the series transcend color, ethnicity, and national boundaries.

AT&T to spend $3 bn on mobile network

The telecommunications giant AT&T today announced plans to offer high-speed mobile Internet service to more than 100 million Mexicans by the end of 2018.

Company chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said US $3 billion will be invested in building the Mexico network and creating “the first-ever North American Mobile Service Area.” That area will cover 400 million people in Mexico and the United States with a seamless network, linking “our two countries’ economies, people and cultures like never before.”

The investment is new money, coming on top of the $4.4 billion AT&T has spent already this year to acquire Mexican mobile providers Iusacell and Nextel México.

Read ore Here

"Live Large - Live Abroad"

Nicholas Kontis, Travel Insider and Founder of World Travel List writes in Huffington Post:

Travel author, blogger and web entrepreneur, Tim Leffel, like myself, has chosen Mexico as his base outside the U.S. Tim and I live fantastic lives living in the land of the mariachis and the home of Tequila.

As Tim points out in his book, A Better Life for Half the Price, you can cut your expenses in half by living abroad, or, as I like to call it, you can be "living large". Imagine if you could keep or make the same salary as in the U.S., Canada, Northern Europe or Australia, but double or more your buying power, you would be spending less, but living a more fulfilling life. Depending on the country you migrate to, your disposable income and lifestyle will change dramatically.

Read More Here

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Artisan Vacation Club Coming to San Miguel

Artisan Riveiera Maya

Interval International, a prominent worldwide provider of vacation services and an operating business of Interval Leisure Group (Nasdaq: IILG), announced the affiliation of Artisan Vacation Club, a points-based club with four luxury resorts in highly demanded vacation destinations in Mexico. The concept, combining mixed-use resorts in beach and urban locations, was the brainchild of Manuel Perez Alpuche, whose two decades of experience in the vacation ownership industry includes developing some of Mexico's most luxurious vacation clubs.

“As the leisure travel market continues to grow in Mexico, this is a wonderful opportunity to increase our presence in a variety of appealing settings, from the iconic beaches of Playa del Carmen to the Spanish Colonial streets of San Miguel de Allende,” said Alpuche, president at Artisan Vacation Club. “Interval’s executives shared our vision for creating a distinctive portfolio highlighting Mexico's diverse cultural treasures and provided invaluable guidance every step of the way. We are thankful for their expertise and ongoing support.”

“Artisan Vacation Club has developed an outstanding product that provides travelers with the quality and flexibility they are seeking,” noted Marcos Agostini, Interval’s senior vice president of resort sales and business development for Latin America. “Its beautifully appointed properties receive excellent reviews, and we look forward to supporting the expansion of a brand increasingly recognized for its exceptional service and attention to detail.”

In the planning stages, Artisan San Miguel Allende will be six blocks from The Jardin, or main square, of the celebrated Spanish Colonial town of San Miguel de Allende. The UNESCO World Heritage Site in the foothills of the Sierra Madre, three hours north of Mexico City, was voted "The World's Best City" by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine in 2013. This 80-unit property will include a swimming pool, bar, restaurants, concierge, complimentary parking, and wireless Internet.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pedro and Gil Reunite

Pedro Cartas on Violin

We had a wonderful late afternoon in a concert for about 100 people at the ranch of Gil Gutierrez. For the first time in over 4 years classical guitarist Gil Gutierrez and violinist Pedro Cartas reunited to present their wonderful music to a crowd of friends from 3:00 to 6:00. 500 pesos per person bought one drink and an all you can eat buffet, under sunny and warm skies, that only threatened at 6:00. 

Gil Gutierrez

There was one moment in the second set, when a soft piece of music was accompanied by a cool breeze that stirred the wind chime in the correct key. Everyone seemed to notice the special moment.

Victor Monterubio rocking the percussion!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sustainable Tourism, Key for Growth

This is an exciting time for Mexico. Its economy is the 14th largest in the world in nominal terms; it has signed 12 different trade agreements with 44 countries; and its domestic market has more than 112 million people – the third largest in Latin America and the 11th largest in the world. With an urban population of 78%, the country’s statistics reflect its forward-looking attitude, making it a great choice for both business and leisure.

Read more at The WorldFolio

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Domingo de Los Locos

On the Sunday closest to June 13, San Miguel is taken over by los locos "crazies". Bev and attended in the hot sun.We left the casita at 11:30am and finally found a seat on the curb between Mexican families by Bellas Artistes. They say in Atencion that 15,000 people will participate in the parade dressed in all manner of costumes.

In the past San Miguel was surrounded by orchards of a apples, pears, plum, peaches etc. and each year the owners invited the workers into the orchards to eat as much as they wanted. They involved the church and dressed as orchard workers wearing jumpers, long sleeve shirts, boots and hats. There was lots of dancing and soon spectators began gathering to watch the fun. To scare the watchers away, the workers started dressing as animals: skunks, raccoons, pelicans and other animals. The audience began calling them locos. This parade is a celebration called Domingo de Los Locos.

It takes a long time for 15,000 to pass by. However the sights are unforgettable. As the participants filed by dancing to ultra loud music, they tossed candy to the crowd, especially  the children. It was like Halloween in a way.

Always there are children and even candied apples.

A Look At Peter Leventhal

Perfect setting for that sofa
When we go the Pocket Theater, I could hang around for hours studying the Peter Leventhals hanging on the walls. They just seem to fit here. Leventhal was from New York and lives in San Miguel de Allende.

San Miguel Events had a story about Leventhal, and here is a snippet: "I spent a decade and a half of my life working for political causes as an artist, I did posters and brochures. It just seemed like an inclined endeavor. It just seemed to be getting less and less productive. I wouldn't say that I wasted my time doing it, I met a lot of incredibly wonderful people, but in terms of the salvation of the American soul, if I can be pompous like that, it seems to have been negated. And that's why I'm here in a way. Somebody once said to me when I was young, the wonderful thing about living here in New York or San Francisco or Provincetown Mass., one of the places on the map of the outsider sensibility, is that you can live in exile in your own country. But you couldn't do that anymore as far as I saw, so I literally exiled myself here to Mexico. I've been coming to Mexico for 40 years, but as a tourist or for several months of the year. I first came to San Miguel 20 years ago. I'm not active. I'm not even particularly deeply interested in quotidian politics in Mexico. But for me there's a human quality here that I can't find any more in the United States. The way people hold their children, the way that they correspond with one another… I have a great affection for those qualities, and they seem to be erased from life in the United States. There are other things, but I don't want this to be a political polemic."

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Hurricane Carlos

Tropical storm Carlos was upgraded this morning to a Category-1 hurricane Carlos, prompting authorities to issue a hurricane warning for parts of Michoacán and Guerrero, including Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa.

Maximum sustained winds are now 85 mph and landfall has shifted from Cabo San Kucas to Mazatlan.

The storm was located 190 kilometers south of Acapulco and 390 kilometers southeast of Lázaro Cárdenas at 4:00pm Central Time and moving slowly northward, with a swing toward the northwest expected by early tomorrow.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Learning Spanish

Bev's Spanish lessons are paying off for me. When I've met a Mexican, I have always asked Come se llamo? They look at me strangely and point to themselves with a questioning look on their faces. "Me," they seem to ask.
I say, "si."
"Jose," they respond.

I wondered what their problem was with my Spanish. Today I learned what I was saying was, " Come se llamo? What am I called? Well, that's a guessing game isn't it. How would they know what I'm called, other than crazy gringo. He has forgotten his name.

I should have said, "Como te llamas? What is your name or how are you called?

Me llamo, Miguel is correct for I am called Michael.

Now maybe I won't get strange looks anymore.


When you talk to folks back in the States, always one of the first questions "Is it safe?" John Scherber once again writes on safety on his blog:

SAFETY IN MEXICO "The constant drumbeat from the US media and the State Department on the subject of risk to travelers or expat residents in México is a subject I’ve addressed before, both on this blog site and in my nonfiction books. Recently I’ve received more messages on my website...on this topic, ... It might be time to put up a few sane comments on this issue again."

Check out Scherber's blog for the rest of the story. Good Day!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tropical Storm CARLOS

The hurricane center has a tropical storm on its radar named Carlos. The National Weather Center has the storm brushing the coast about where Puerto Vallarta is, then another possible track derecho straight ahead to Cab San Lucas.

It is predicted that Tropical Storm Carlos will become a hurricane between this Friday and Saturday. The storm is currently packing sustained winds of 50 MPH.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Ten Reasons to Love Mexico City Right Now

Ann Abel of Forbes, “Mexico City is the only city in North America that has a strong sense of tradition and a cutting edge,” says American expat Jason Fritz, who moved here last year after a decade in Tijuana and runs a roving supper club. “In the center, it’s very old-school, with people living as they did 60 years ago, but in other neighborhoods it’s totally contemporary.”

His business is booming. “Mexico City is the ‘next Berlin,’” he says, half-joking, a stop on the cool-seeking circuit. The DF—Distrito Federal, like the DC in Washington DC— is far safer, cleaner and more livable than it used to be, thanks to efforts to curb pollution and crack down on unscrupulous taxi drivers, among other initiatives.

DF native Samuel Leizorek, managing director of the chic Las Alcobas hotel, sees the city becoming more appealing to leisure travelers: “The gastronomy, archaeology and culture are great here. Mexico City is as good as many European capitals and easier for a long weekend from the U.S.” (Aeromexico has frequent service; New York is only about five hours away.)

Read the rest here for the ten reasons.

Los Sombreros chef Azucena Tovar looks to hometown in Mexico for inspiration

Karen Fernau,, writes "Chefs can be both informative and entertaining. Chef Q&A offers a peek into the kitchens and minds of top Valley chefs: Azucena Tovar.

Chef: Azucena Tovar, chef and owner of Los Sombreros Mexican Restaurant.
Photo: Photo provided by Girl Meets Fork Marketing & Media)

Who are your influences? 

My mother, my hometown, my country.

What's your new favorite ingredient? 

Tortillas, beans and jalapeños. Of all of my favorites, I cannot live without jalapeños. I would rather die.

Why did you become a chef?

By accident but I love food just about more than anything else in life.

Is there anything you would never eat?

Yes, real exotic animals like snakes, lions, etc., and insects.

What is your favorite quote or saying about food?

I prefer food over just about anything.

What's your least favorite food?

Bland food.

Which flavor profile do you prefer? Salty, spicy or sweet?

I like to play with sweet and sour both at the same time.

What's one ingredient everyone should have in their fridge or pantry?

What's the best city in the world for food?

I love Paris, Mexico City and my hometown in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. That's what I cook, Mexican food with a French twist. I love them both.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Cabo Survives Hurricane Blanca

Souvenir alley, leading from Cabo San Lucas to the marina, gets a cleanup Monday after a near-miss by an early hurricane.
Sounds like Bill Monroe reporting for Oregon.Live was in Cabo when he filed this report:

The wind howled. Boats bounced in the harbor. Birds hunkered.

And in the end? Hurricane Blanca largely spared Cabo San Lucas a double punch from last year's devastating storm.

Even at the storm's height, one or two hard-core souvenir sellers were hawking wares to the few passing gringos out watching the wind and the boats in one of the highest-value marinas on earth.

Read more at Shake N Bake, Cabo San Lucas, survive Hurricane Blanca

Friday, June 5, 2015

Day Trip to Pozos

John and Kristine Scherber
The Scherbers and the Landfairs spent part of the day today in Pozos, an hour's drive from San Miguel on a narrow road. The day was partly cloudy and we took along a jacket in case it was chilly in Pozos. Sometimes the weather is cooler than San Miguel because the altitude is 7,200 feet; 500 to 1,000 feet higher than SMA.

When we drive into town, I was struck by all the work that has been done to make the World Heritage city attractive to tourists. It looks like a new sewer line is going in. Maybe authorities are expecting more than just tourists. I noticed new brick work everywhere in the city of 2,000 to 3,000 people, along with new doors. The doors and brick work are a kind of facade for poverty that exists behind the doors.

We drove through the town toward the mining district and passed haciendas that were built for living and for production of silver. In the late 1800s to the early 1900s the population was about 70,000 people, then when the mines were flooded, either accidentally or on purpose, Pozoz became a ghost town and the population fell to about 300. Today, it is trying to come back and expats number less than 20.

The haciendas have been abandoned and the once great buildings have collapsed into ruin, much like the ruined Jarel de Berrio hacienda. We took many pictures of one of the largest haciendas, Mina Cinco Señores the five senors mine. It is a shame that so much lies in ruins, covered in graffiti in many rooms. On e sign indicated this area was mined beginning in the mid 1550s.

Carved lizard helping you wash
Cowboy hat light fixtures

After we toured the mining area and took pictures of the flowing century plants, we made our way to Posada de las Mina for lunch. blue corn and dried banana slices were served with delicious salsa; one was a hot red sauce and the other was tangy with a lemony taste. We ordered food that was very good. I had enchiladas filled with chicken tinga and topped with a red mole sauce different from the dark coffee and chocolate moles I've tasted previously. The food was very good and the bill for four came to 510 pesos. A steal!

Reclaimed building faces the square

During the drive through Pozos, we stopped at a little shop that had all sorts of rocks for sale. I bought two rock samples from the area. One was a sample of copper ore and the other of plata or silver.

The intricate ironwork by the patio

It was a fantastic day filled with great conversation, great food and conversations about writing.

Corrected: so many typos!

The Rio Grande nexus

Mexico is becoming a vibrant middle-class nation. Already, it is the largest trading partner of California, Texas and Arizona, and is responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs across the Southwest. And that might be just the beginning. With economic and educational reforms under way, Mexico’s rise could accelerate. By one estimate, Mexico will be the world’s fifth-largest economy by 2050.

What will the emergence of a First World Mexico mean for the Southwest?

The Rio Grande nexus

By Michael Lind

The Rio Grande, which once divided the hinterlands of two countries, is becoming the seam that stitches together two of their most dynamic regions. North of the river, the revolution in oil and gas production enabled by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has produced an economic boom in the land above the 23-county Eagle Ford Shale. Further north, the Texas Triangle bounded by Austin-San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston is exploding in population and prosperity, as it attracts migrants and jobs from the rest of the country and the world.

Meanwhile, the region south of the Rio Grande is the most prosperous in Mexico. Monterrey, the economic capital of the area, is the second-wealthiest city in Mexico, hosting affiliates of multinationals including General Electric and Toyota. The Mexican states in the Rio Grande Basin — Durango, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas — have a per capita GDP that is 2.3 times higher than that of the rest of the country. In Mexico as a whole, the middle class has grown to include as much as 40 percent of the population. As rates of Mexican fertility and immigration fall, the Great Migration from rural Mexico to the U.S. appears to have been a one-time phenomenon, like the Great Migration of rural blacks and whites to the Northern U.S. between the two world wars.

The continuing challenges of crime and poverty along the border should not obscure the outlines of a historic transformation in North America. The centers of economic dynamism in both the U.S. and Mexico — nations predicted to have the second- and fifth-largest economies in the world by 2050 — are converging at la frontera. A new transnational core in the global economy, like the Benelux nations of Europe and the concentration of wealth in East Asia, is emerging on both sides of the area between the Rio Grande and Nueces rivers once known as the Wild Horse Desert. In an age obsessed with bad news, this is very good news indeed.

Michael Lind is co-founder of the New America Foundation and author of “Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States.”

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Rebozo is Endangered, says Textiles Expert

Ana Celia Martínez, expert in Mexican textiles.
Mexico News Daily says the "The Mexican rebozo, a traditional garment closely associated with Mexican culture, is on the brink of extinction, according to an award-winning expert in textiles.

"Ana Celia Martínez, winner of the Tenerife International Artisan Prize 2014, worries that there are fewer than 200 people dedicated to the weaving of rebozos left in Mexico. Just a few months ago, she says, the last weaver of scented rebozos had to close his shop.

“Scented rebozos are 100% cotton, and to achieve their characteristic black color, artisans had to treat the fiber with iron and treated water. This complicated process impregnated the fabric with foul smells. The rebozo was then curated with fragrant herbs, giving the garment its name”, explains Martínez, who is also a professor of Mesoamerican studies at the National Autonomous University.

“Scented rebozos are widely appreciated in Europe,” she says, but “now this tradition has become part of history, to be displayed in museums. This variety of rebozo is practically extinct.”

"Another example of an endangered rebozo is the “reservista,” in which 5,000 threads are woven on a backstrap loom, achieving intricate and complex designs. “There is only one artisan working this type of rebozo in Mexico.”

"The Mexican rebozo, a long straight piece of cloth that could be a cross between a scarf and a shawl, is known for its durability, and they can be passed on from generation to generation. The rebozo can be described as an accessory but it is also functional, being used to carry large bundles, or babies.

"Martínez describes the the latter use: “The child is completely covered by it, comfortably pressed against its mother’s body in an assuring and soothing position. They can even hear their mother’s heartbeat.”

"Martínez is confident that the National Anthropology and History Institute will protect something with such a strong cultural tradition: “They must undertake concrete actions to preserve this part of the culture of Mexico, and prevent the displacement of artisans by cheap Chinese products.”

"Chinese rebozos are inexpensive and mass-produced using synthetic fibers. The end product is very fragile and frays very easily and the dyes wash off after a short time, while Mexican rebozos can remain intact for decades, says Martínez.

"The defender of culturally valuable textiles won the Tenerife prize for “Izote, Iczotl, fiber with identity, tradition and permanence,” a project designed to preserve an endangered type of fiber called izote, which is produced in Zumpahuacán in the State of México.

"Izote is seen to have historical importance because its use in pre-Hispanic times is evident in documents such as the Codex Mendoza, a 16th-century manuscript containing a history of Aztec rulers, where the pictograms show izote blankets.

"Upon receiving her award, presented on the island of Tenerife in February, Martínez said cultural traditions such as the rebozo are “the symbols of our identity” and must be preserved - See more at:

Cabo Web Cam to Watch the Storm

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Hurricane Blanca May or May Not Drench the Southwestern U.S. Next Week

Hurricane Blanca is only the second named storm in the three-week-old Pacific Hurricane Season, but it’s already the second category four hurricane to form there in the past two days. The storm will slowly move towards the Baja Peninsula this weekend, after which it might or might not drench the American Southwest.n>

Are there Americans Living (and even working) illegally South of the Border?

The issue of undocumented Mexican migrants in America is widely reported. But what about the thousands of Americans living illegally south of the border? Does anybody know why they come, and why Mexicans aren’t yet making an issue about it?

Last year about 1,000 US citizens were questioned over irregularities in their immigration status, according to Mexican authorities. They face a modest fine – up to $50 – if officials find them working without a permit or living in Mexico without proper documents.

Those who lose their visas or are asked to leave the country and then discovered to be overstaying are fined up to $400.

But truth is, the National Migration Institute in Mexico has absolutely no idea just how many Americans are living or working illegally in Mexico.

There are no advocacy groups defending American aliens in Mexico. Mexican politicians haven’t raised it as a major issue – a far cry from the controversy around illegal migration on the other side of the border. With thousands of people from Central America crossing into Mexico illegally every year, and the threat from drug gangs and human traffickers on their way to the US, the presence of undocumented Americans is considered little more than a minor issue for Mexico’s immigration services.

Some are American tourists who decide to extend their stay in Mexico without notifying the authorities, or students who wish to earn extra money teaching English in Mexico City. Others just fall in love with the Latin American lifestyle.

Read the rest of the article at

Warren Hardy and La Cortesia

Hurricane Blanca

  • Hurricane Blanca is located just over 400 miles off the coast of the Mexican Riviera.
  • Blanca strengthened into a hurricane Tuesday and will continue its rapid strengthening to a major hurricane (Category 3 or stronger) today.
  • Blanca is nearly stationary, but will begin moving northwestward Thursday.
  • Blanca may become an intense Category 4 hurricane Thursday or Friday, but is then expected to weaken quickly due to increased wind shear and movement over cooler water.
  • There is increasing confidence in a track toward southern Baja California. However, the average track error at 96 hours is about 165 statute miles. With a small wind field, this can make a huge difference in impacts.
  • If Blanca directly impacts the southern Baja peninsula, it would likely do so sometime Sunday. As mentioned above, however, Blanca is expected to be weakening, possibly rapidly, as it moves toward the latitude of the southern Baja peninsula.
  • Those in the southern Baja peninsula, including Los Cabos, should closely monitor the progress of Blanca.
  • High surf and swells generated from Blanca - and leftover from Andres - will affect the Mexican Riviera and southern Baja coast. Dangerous rip currents are likely.
  • Remnant moisture from Blanca may eventually be drawn into the Desert Southwest and southern Rockies next week.
  • Blanca is the earliest formation of the second hurricane in the eastern Pacific basin since reliable records began in 1971.
  • According to NOAA's database, only one other pre-July 1 tropical cyclone tracked within 65 nautical miles of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, a Jun. 14, 1958 Category 1 hurricane whose center passed just south of Los Cabos.  


This fall, Anderson Ranch Arts Center will host two workshops in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, to coincide with the three-day Día de los Muertos holiday (Halloween, Día los Niños and All Souls’ Day), Oct. 30-Nov. 6, 2015.

Both workshops will visit nearby small communities to experience the authentic Día de los Muertos traditions from an intimate perspective, including preparation of altars in homes and cemeteries. A day trip to the famous colonial city and mining town of Guanajuato, as well as the pre-Hispanic settlement of Cañada de la Virgen pyramid and archaeological zone, also dot the itinerary.

For aspiring and established photographers, Ed Kashi (photojournalist, filmmaker and educator) and Andrea Wallace (Artistic Director of Photography and New Media at Anderson Ranch) will teach a workshop focused on how to create a personal documentary project. Whether a series of street portraits or an exploration of local cuisine and architecture, participants will be encouraged to discover a subject that speaks to a personal passion and document it in a compelling and unique visual style.

For ceramic artists, Holly Hughes (Professor of Painting and Drawing at Rhode Island School of Design) and Doug Casebeer (Associate Director and Artistic Director of Ceramics at Anderson Ranch) will delve into decorating tiles and plates, using Mexican culture and history as starting points.

Tuition is $2,050 and includes all field excursions, welcome and farewell dinners, instruction and studio supplies. Airfare is not included. More information and registration details are available at or by calling Anderson Ranch at (970) 923-3181x215.

Nina Miller to Read From New Novel

Nina Miller to read from new novel

Many people in the Ithaca community know Nina Miller from her work with Hospicare, Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service, and many more service oriented organizations in Ithaca. But she is also a writer of creative fiction, and has just completed a new book, "The Mother of Invention."

This new novel explores issues close to most people's hearts: friendship, loss, aging, the risks of fracking, illness, marriage — all set in a college community. Miller will give a reading at 4 p.m. Saturday at Barnes and Noble, as well as at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 17 at Kendall of Ithaca.

Miller has been a major force in the human service area for many years. She was the executive sirector of Suicide Prevention and Crisis Services and then Hospicare and Palliative Care Services of Tompkins County. She was a writing major at the University of Pennsylvania and won a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship for graduate studies in English. Twenty of her short stories have been published in literary reviews and anthologies. Miller raised three children in Ithaca with her late husband George. She now divides her time between Ithaca, Cape Cod and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Hurricane Blanca Landfall Sunday in Los Cabos

Just as Hurricane Andrés is set to expire, along comes Hurricane Blanca. Blanca was upgraded today to a Category 1 hurricane today

Andrés has increased in strength and is now rated as Category 4 but is expected to weaken to a tropical storm by Wednesday.

Tropical storm Blanca, the second named storm of the season, is now the focus of attention on the Pacific coast and is expected to strengthen quickly, according to the United States National Hurricane Center.

However, there are no coastal watches or warnings in effect. Blanca was located 540 kilometers south-southwest of Zihuatanejo at 10:00am Central and moving northwest. Little motion is expected tomorrow and Wednesday.

Blanca is forecast to deliver very heavy rains in Jalisco, Michoacán and Guerrero.

Hurricane Andrés was reported 1,350 kilometers southwest of the southern tip of Baja California Sur this morning and heading west-northwest. Its sustained winds were blowing at 220 km/h.

The NHC warned that a high swell generated by the hurricane is affecting parts of the west coast of the Baja peninsula and will likely cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

UPDATE:  It is forecast to strengthen until Friday when it will begin to weaken before making landfall Sunday in Los Cabos. Forecasters said it was too early to tell what impact it might have on the Baja peninsula.

Mexico News Daily

Going to Oaxaca sometime soon. Here's a book review I wrote a year ago:

Oaxaca Chocolate: A Santo Gordo Mystery (Santo Gordo Mysteries) Paperback by Charles Kerns

Paperback: 250 pages Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 3, 2013)

This is the second time for a Charles Kerns novel. The first was “Santo Gordo: A Killing in Oaxaca (Santo Gordo Mysteries).” Let’s say you have heard about becoming an expat and you’ve heard good things about Oaxaca, Mexico. The best advice is rent for an extended time to see if you like the culture, the people, the food, and the climate. Take a short cut with Charles Kerns, as Robert Evans, a retired American living in Oaxaca.

Robert Evans (Roberto) is nick-named Santo Gordo, because he is an amateur detective and to the people who know him, he solves mysteries and is their saint, with a small “s”. Through Roberto you will learn what it’s like to live among the natives, be their friend, eat their food and share in their holidays.

This book takes place around Christmas and New Years. With Roberto you’ll see how the Mexicans celebrate the birth of baby Jesus. Like “…A Killing in Oaxaca” I find the culture and people comforting. I seem to slow down when I read what Kerns has written. We also learn that it is not appreciated, at least by this writer, to have Americans think they know what is best for Mexicans; to think that American culture and ways of business are superior. They don’t want the fast paced life and pursuit of money to dominate their life style. If you move to Mexico, don’t be upset if it isn’t like the U.S.

I recommend both books by Charles Kerns and give both five stars.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Obama nominates senior State Dept. official as Mexico envoy

Roberta Jacobson, the top U.S. diplomat for Latin America and point person in detente talks with Cuba, was nominated Monday by President Barack Obama to be the next U.S. ambassador to Mexico.

If confirmed by the Senate, Jacobson would be the first woman to hold what is considered one of the United States' most important diplomatic posts due to the countries' proximity and key relationship.

Obama's previous nominee, Maria Echaveste, withdrew from consideration in late January, citing a prolonged nomination process and the interests of her family. At that point, five months after her name was put forward, Echaveste had yet to receive a confirmation hearing in the Senate.

Jacobson is a career diplomat who previously served as deputy chief of mission in Peru, director of the State Department's Office of Mexican Affairs and deputy assistant secretary for Canada, Mexico and NAFTA issues.

Since 2012, she has been assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.

In that role she has been prominent in leading U.S. negotiators in talks with Cuba on re-establishing diplomatic ties and embassies after more than five decades of antagonism.

Those talks continue, but John Caulfield, who headed the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba from 2011 until his retirement in 2014, predicted they would not be hurt by Monday's announcement.

Caulfield noted Jacobson's deputy at the State Department, Alex Lee, and the current chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, are also involved in the talks and could provide continuity in what officials on both sides frequently characterize as a process of building trust. The discussions could also be over by the time Jacobson is confirmed.

"It takes a long time to get through the Senate, so I'm not sure that she's packing her bags yet. ... I would hope that most of the issues are resolved long before she would be departing," Caulfield said.

It's not clear whether Jacobson's role in the Cuba talks could complicate approval in the Senate. The Foreign Relations Committee, which holds confirmation hearings, includes Cuban-American Sens. Marco Rubio, a Republican, and Bob Menendez, a Democrat, both outspoken opponents of normalizing relations with Cuba. Others on the committee, however, such as Republican Jeff Flake have backed engagement with the Communist-run country.

Officials have said the White House bypassed the State Department during long and secret back-channel talks with the Cubans that led to the joint announcement on Dec. 17 that Washington and Havana would formally seek detente.

"They didn't even inform Roberta Jacobson about this. So I think it would be unfair to sort of tag her for the change in policy in Cuba. I think this is purely a White House operation," Caulfield said. "Nevertheless what's fair isn't always what rules in Washington, so you just don't know."

Jacobson would replace Anthony Wayne, the U.S. envoy to Mexico since 2011. Wayne's predecessor, Carlos Pascual, resigned amid a diplomatic flap after leaked diplomatic cables showed him criticizing the anti-drug strategy of then-Mexican President Felipe Calderon. ___