Saturday, July 25, 2015

Mexico Inspirational: Apple’s Steve Wozniak

Wozniak: admires Mexicans' passion. ALDEA DIGITAL

Mexico News Daily has an encouraging word: There is a passion in Mexico for developing new technology and changing the world, which for Apple Computer cofounder Steve Wozniak is inspirational.

Mexico, in fact, is the country that inspires him most, Wozniak said while attending the annual digital inclusion conference called Aldea Digital, being held until tomorrow in Mexico City.

“In all of Mexico [and particularly] in Hermosillo, in Querétaro, in León, in Monterrey, I have seen a lot of entrepreneurial interest; this is the country that currently inspires me the most,” said the former associate of the late Steve Jobs.

He said in his travels people ask him if he sees anywhere else as marvelous as Silicon Valley in terms of high-tech activity. His answer: nowhere else but Mexico.

He recognized Brazil and Colombia as players in digital technological development but the people who want to get involved in technology and make changes are in Mexico, he said.

The passion Wozniak has seen here is one of the key requirements he lists for a successful entrepreneur.

Others are being prepared to work hard, take risks, be tolerant of frustration and failure and constantly seek to move forward.

Aldea Digital, now in its third year, is presented by the Carlos Slim Foundation in the zócalo of Mexico City. More than 30 workshops are being offered this year, with more than 70 prominent national and international speakers.

Some 260,000 people participated in last year’s event; more than 300,000 were expected to attend this year’s, scheduled for July 10-26.

Source: El Diario (sp)

Walking to Breakfast

By Beverly Landfair

La Vanda Restaurante with Theresa our wait person
If you are contemplating visiting us in the future, we will be walking to breakfast at LaVanda Restaurante.  Located just off Umaran on Calle Hernandes Marcias, LaVanda is a small but quaint cafe that serves us one excellent breakfast.  We have not had the pleasure of having lunch here but that will be another story.

Michael and I just had returned from a nearby lab after having to submit to blood draws, etc. for securing some Mexican Medical Insurance for us.  We were ravenous after our twelve hour fast and in need of strong coffee.  Their home brew did not disappoint.  Now, I could concentrate on ordering breakfast.

Beverly and the coffee fix
I ordered Eggs Toscanos, two poached eggs presented like presents on my plate; mozzerella dollop and a generous amount of Basil Pesto accompanied by roasted tomatoes on the side.  My breakfast also came with a fruit bowl and toast with Guava Jam.  I was having a blissful experience.

Michael ordered his favorite, French Toast with fruit with a side of bacon that arrived in a small bowl and was crispy and delicious.  I know because he thankfully shared some with me.  We will be satiated until dinner with friends tonight!

La Vanda Restaurante

Atmosphere is part of making any culinary experience work, in my book. Lavanda has many rooms, natural stone and has been set up to make you feel like you are breakfasting at your friend's home.  I give LaVanda high marks.

Buen Provecho!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Mexico to Implement New Rules at Border

The Tijuana-San Ysidro border crossing.

Mexico News Daily reports, "Mexico will move forward with plans to fundamentally change its border operations, an official has confirmed, leaving many concerned that slower border crossings into the country could dissuade travelers, workers and family members from entering the country from the United States."

Rodulfo Figueroa, Mexico’s top immigration official in Baja California, confirmed that Mexico is moving forward to implement a 2012 law requiring travel documents and fees from some visitors in order to enter Mexico, a vast difference from the no-questions-asked approach of today.

“We are going to do everything possible to ensure that there are no obstacles,” Figueroa told reporters at the offices of the Tijuana Tourism and Conventions Committee. “We’re going to start applying the law gradually. We know there is going to be a learning period, we won’t be inflexible in applying the law, but certainly we’ll try to educate the public.”

Baja California businesses and politicians have protested the law, claiming it will hurt tourism and businesses, and the Baja California economy. The protests started in November 2014 when Mexico tried to implement it for the first time.

Activists blocked authorities’ first attempt to implement the law at the Otay Mesa border crossing east of San Diego.
Under the new measures, visitors staying in Mexico for more than seven days, or those working in Mexico, will pay a 332-peso (US $20) fee.
Enforcement will increase with a new pedestrian inspection station at San Ysidro, set to open in the coming weeks, according to Figueroa. Head of the Business Coordinating Committee, Humberto Jaramillo, told the San Diego Union Tribune he was not concerned.

“I don’t think there will be an effect, and if there were, we’d be the first to approach authorities,” he said. Others worry the measure will dampen tourism already hurt by negative press about narco-violence. Officials anonymously told the press last year the move was a matter of national security.

“This is more of a security measure,” a Mexican customs agent told El Mexicano. “It’s like saying to visitors: ‘We don’t want to bother you and we aren’t going to block your passage but we want to know who you are and where you are going.”

Others are concerned about the law.

“The idea that everybody has to carry a passport is totally ridiculous,” said president of SIMNSA Health Plan, Frank Carrillo, which serves U.S. workers in Mexico. “Many patients are Mexicans with permanent resident status in the United States. Most of them have g reen cards; do they have to carry their Mexican passport as well? It’s totally inconvenient.”
It appears the president of the Tourism and Conventions Committee, Miguel Angel Badiola, called Tuesday’s press conference in the wake of Matthew Suárez’s San Diego Reader article, entitled, “Welcome to Mexico, $22.50 please.”

In that report, Suárez gives a first-hand account of Mexican nationals encountering a new effort to establish the program.

“They stopped us because we used the ramp to get through the building that leads to the Mexican side,” Michael Acuña told Suárez. “They asked us for visas and passports, but when my wife showed him her resident card, he still asked her for her passport book, all in English. He asked us where we were going and how long we were going to stay in Mexico.

“Funny thing is, he never stopped speaking in English, even when he saw my wife’s Mexican passport. After we showed all the proper documentation, they let us through.”

Sources: San Diego Union Tribune (en), San Diego Reader (en) 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mujeres en Cambio

By Beverly Landfair

young women are selected for scholarships

"Mujeres en Cambio" or Women In Change hosted a delicious Moroccan luncheon held at Hacienda de la Flores, lush, Boutique Hotel on Calle Hospico. My friend, Kristine Scherber, invited me to attend this afternoon at 2 PM. Tickets for this event were 200 pesos = about $13.00 and all of the money is donated to Mujeres en Cambio.  I was delighted and surprised by the beautiful property and all of the wonderful women in attendance for this meaningful cause.  Let me explain.

Kay, Sheila, and Jayne

"Mujeres en Cambio was founded in 1995.  The group's primary aim is to educate impoverished young women who live in rural communities near San Miguel de Allende. Every year 150 young women are selected for scholarships with direct input from the teachers and principals of their rural schools. These scholarships allow women to study in middle school, high school and university.  The hurdles for these girls are many and Mujeres en Cambio aims to ease these challenges in order for them to stay in school.

"Education will not only improve their quality of life but also that of their future families."

Hacienda de la Flores

Which brings me back to the fabulous lunch that was served to us under the direction of Victoria Challancin, who owns "Flavors of the Sun Cooking School" and also conducts tours to Morocco.  Some of the women at our table today had gone on this tour to Morocco and raved about it.  I had not had the pleasure of tasting much Moroccan Cooking before today.  What a treat I had in store:  

  • Chicken Tangine with Caramelized Tomatoes, 
  • Carrot Salad with Almonds and Raisins, 
  • Moroccan Zucchini Salad, 
  • Beet Salad, 
  • Moroccan Cooked Tomato and Green Pepper Salad and 
  • finally Moroccan Cookies and Coffee! 
  • Moroccan Chickpea Salad with Cumin and Garlic
It was a beautiful array and a delicious plate full of scrumptious food.

Hacienda de la Flores

The best part is that every single aspect of this luncheon was donated from the food and preparation to the generous contribution of Hacienda de la Flores to every one who worked hard to make this luncheon possible.

Hacienda de la Flores

I am looking forward to next month's meeting!  Another bonus today; Victoria (Vicky) included all of her recipes in a booklet for all attendees. Let me know if you are interested in any of the above recipe's.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Have You Tried Agua Miel For Brunch?

By Beverly Landfair

Musicians at Agua Miel
Walking into Agua Miel for brunch is like going to a good friend's home and enjoying a late breakfast on the patio. Agua Miel means honey water, and I think that the name is as gentle as the scene.  Live music is playing the Sunday sounds of flute and guitar.  The tasteful music goes so spritely with the Bloody Mary's that two of our foursome ordered.  Let me say, "perfecto!"  

Agua Miguel Patio
Kristine and I ordered the wonderfully prepared Frittata with leeks, potatoes and zucchini.  I could see the butter on top.  The flavors blended well together. We enjoyed ours with a side of bacon.  Michael had waffles with berries and syrup and a side of bacon. John ordered The Jambalaya and I could tell he was enjoying the shrimp, chicken, pork riblet and andouille sausage with garlic toast that he let us share.

After we finished eating, we lingered and had desert and coffee and good conversation.  Our two and one-half hour brunch came to an end and we all happily doddled home.  FYI:  For two with tip = 400 Pesos or $26.67. 

Mexican Peso Plunges To 16/USD - Record Lows

The Mexican Peso has devalued 23.5% in the last 12 months, breaking 16.00/USD for the first time in history today.

Charts: Bloomberg

This is the fastest collapse in the currency since Lehman.

This is terrific for tourists and for expats, but it is a hardship for the Mexican people. Prices will be surging and it will make it harder for everyone in the end.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Our New Home

We were invited to a neighborhood party tonight. We saw recently made friends and met new people soon to be friends. All were gringos. Many were here in San Miguel de Allende for many years, and many were new arrivals. All seemed genuinely happy to be living here.  They loved the fact that the weather wasn't extreme, meaning that it was comfortable with no high heat and humidity.

The people we talked to were interesting, many were travelers. There were writers or people involved with writers, artists of varied medias. Many had bought a house here and some just moving into new houses, many renting like us getting a feel for the new country of Mexico. I got the feeling that most don't miss the United States, with its homogeneous cities, its hustle and stress, and lack of time; maybe its focus on time itself.

We seem to have more time here to focus on defining who we are, more time to spend with each other, more time to devote to friends and acquaintances.

For Bev and me, all of that is true. We wake in the morning or say before falling asleep, "We are living in Mexico." with wonder in our voices. We spent time here many times, but always with the knowledge that we were just visiting or on vacation. Never with the feeling until now that this is our home. Our home is exciting with the thunder storms and the rain that comes down in big drops that cause rivers in the street. It's exciting to turn the corner and discover something new. It's exciting to see the families enjoy simply being a part of a happening in the Jardin. And's not exciting, it's peaceful. There's a calmness that comes with manana. It will get done, whatever needs to be done. Kind of like a beautiful butterfly. It knows where it wants to go, but it's going to smell every flower on the way; maybe even smell a flower more than once and then come back again before moving on its way.

Follow Me to the Saturday Organic Market

By Beverly Landfair

He was playing great sax!

Melissa is in the red blouse.

As promised, I bopped up the Ancha and strolled into the Saturday Organic Market and made a bee-line for Buena Vida Bakery.  There is always a line of people waiting to get their goodies.  When it was finally my turn, I requested two cinnamon rolls for Miguel and one very tasty naranja orange doughnut for me.  I gave the owner, Melissa and staff, my regards and bid them adios.  They do a phenomenal business on Saturdays.


Then I made my way to Karmine's stand where she sells her home-made pesto and also teaches cooking classes, and cooks at La Finestra restaurant (which we have yet to try)  This pesto is excellent and will sauce pasta for at least seven dinner plates.  As you know, there are a myriad of other uses for Pesto.  My eight oz. container was 60 pesos = $4.00.  She sells other sauces also, which we must try soon.

Derek's Dips

Next is Derek's Dips made this morning.  He uses almonds as his base.  I bought Habanero Dip to take to the party, along with some other goodies, that we are going to this evening. Derek was not there today so I missed taking his picture, but did capture his able assistant letting people sample as many dips with chips as they wanted.  After all, "The proof is in the eating."

I wanted you to get a sense of this good time happening every Saturday at this Market.  Live music, food, great coffee, and vendors selling their organic and very fine products from organic vegetables to jewelry to rugs and everything in-between.  Thanks for joining me!

Cafe area

Book Review: Angel Face by John Scherber

John Scherber, San Miguel, Mexico resident, has just published his thirteenth novel in the Paul Zacher series and it is a good one.  

Paul Zacher, Maya, and Cody, like a dog with a ball, have once again invited us to play the detective game when a movie star, dead for 28 years, is disinterred and found in almost pristine condition. Is it a natural thing to happen to her body or is this something religious and should the issue of saint hood be raised? Based on a true story of a like incident in the Philappines, two brothers of the actress in San Miguel, Mexico propose different plans for the body of Angel face. Naturally, when Paul Zacher is around, you can expect murder.

This is perhaps the most introspective of John Scherber’s thirteen books about what it is to be a man. The case also pulls at the stretched and frayed fabric of the Paul-Maya relationship. Paul Zacher and crew should be a TV series and Angel Face the concluding chapter of season one.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Let's Talk Bakeries!

By Beverly Landfair

It is almost the week-end!  Let's talk about bakeries.  The three bakeries that we will be discussing are all in Centro and relatively close to each other.

Buena Vida

One of my favorites is La Buena Vida.  My picture shows the brick and mortar store.  Tomorrow at the Saturday Organic Market there will be three times as many offerings.  For instance, my fav, the orange doughnut is sold out already from the above store, but at the market tomorrow they will have been baking all night and will have one that is warm and melts in my mouth.  That is my fantasy anyway. Count on some pictures.

Petite Fleur

Petite Fleur

Around the corner is an excellent bakery which specializes in cakes and confections that are mind-blowingly tasty called Petite Fleur.  You can watch them create five layer cakes and other delights.  The cookies and breads are rich with butter.  You can not go wrong with any selection that you choose here.


Cumpanio is a favorite in San Miguel and very popular with all.  This is an upscale bakery visitors to this city gravitate to.  Just grab a tray and take what looks scrumptious. This bakery has an adjacent restaurant that is good also.  I think of Cumpanio as an up-scale bakery.

Tomorrow:  The Organic Saturday Market 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My Walk to Mega

By Beverly Landfair

It took me about 1.55 miles to walk to Mega this afternoon.  I captured some favorite restaurants and some haunts along the way to give you a sense of the scene on The Ancha.  It was a little dusty in some spots but not bad.  I was armed with my shopping bags and pesos.  I wish I would have remembered my water.

Hecho En Mexico (Made in Mexico) is a favorite eatery of many who live here.  It is consistent and tasty and has excellent taco chips and live music on Saturday nights. I am a sucker for their Blackened Fish.  Michael and I have had many a great time here. 
The Instituto is a very long stone affair with restaurants, shops and The Organic Market open Saturdays early morning until 2 PM.  I will be going there this Saturday to pick up some homemade Pesto, some of Derek's yummy dips to bring to our friend Sheila's party this Saturday evening and maybe even an orange donut still warm and worth every calorie!  My picture shows the locked door with just a tempting sliver of a look see.  This Saturday market deserves to have it's own separate post.

Luna De Queso (Moon of Cheese) is a favorite place to buy cheese and other delights.  As I am approaching Luna De Queso, the nicest guy is selling wonderful fruits, etc. just outside the cheese shop.  Every week I buy a quart of the best baby cherry tomatoes for 20 Pesos = $1.33 or less. That's a steal!

Look, a new restaurant is opening next week, Longhorn's!  I checked out the interior and it looks welcoming and new and old.  They will be serving Ribs, etc. Hope it does well.  Can you tell I am hungry and can't wait for Michael to fire up our bar-b-q tonight?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Mega, Super Bonanza and "No Name" Grocery Stores

By Beverly Landfair

Mega Comercial Mexicana San Miguel de Allende

Going to the above stores for a couple spices and whipping cream for a recipe is no small task.  All of the above stores probably have what I need, but they are disguised with Mexican subtitles.  I needed ground Cumin today.  Little did I know that it is called "Comino" here.  It is an adventure!

Mega is a modern, commercial Mexican grocery store and more, a one shop center.  I am slowly figuring out how to navigate the aisles.  Some items are easy to find like cereals, just find your box on the shelf.  Popcorn kernels are kept with the packaged raw beans nicely hidden on a third shelf.  Every time I find what I am looking for I say, "Yay! and start acting like I own the place.  I do love the challenge.  The assortment is wonderful and it is bright and accessible.

Super Bonanza
Super Bonanza

Super Bonanza is sandwiched on Mesones Street and is another original experience.  Here they do a lot of catering to Canadians and Americans but you still need to be vigilant.  Eggs in San Miguel are sold loosely and are not refrigerated.  We are still among the living and buy them often.  I see some Americans here walking around glassy eyed, mouths open, searching for foods that look familiar.  Anyone who is learning Spanish is definitely ahead of the game.

No Name Tienda

I love "No Name" which we affectionately call this tienda (store) because it is a family run operation, but has no name on the front of the store.  They have some great taco chips for parties for only 14 pesos. (.99)  All stores are clean and really try to be helpful.

No Name tienda with 14 peso chips on bottom shelf

Monday, July 13, 2015

Learning Curve

By Beverly Landfair

Who knew that you could not buy all your fruits and vegetables in one place?  I go to about 3-4 different and wonderful stores for different fruits or vegetables. In most cases, all is fresh as in just picked.  Another learning curve was figuring out what a "kilo" actually is?  Answer: About two pounds, 2 Lbs, so when I see veggie prices per kilo it is usually an unbelievably great price. 

Limes, huge avocados, grapefruit, watermelon, melons, etc. are sweeter and juicier here.  This is the broccoli capital of Mexico, so I say, "get steaming."  We are saving about 50% of what we paid in Portland for our fruits and vegetables.
For instance, I bought about one pound of Brussel Sprouts from Alex this morning, that's Alex at the top, and he charged me 15 Pesos = $1.00.

I do not pop grapes, berries, cherry tomatoes in my mouth in the above stores because when I get home I wash them in a disinfectant solution for about 10 minutes to rinse all the bad nasties away.  I have not been sick yet.  Some people have gotten deathly ill from eating the above without proper procedures.

Mega, the biggest store in town (think Fred Meyer) has decent fruits and vegetablesm, but I prefer to support the little guy.  I am hooked on jicama and am getting into papaya also.  This is all a colorful new adventure that tastes great!


Sunday, July 12, 2015

What A Surprise

By Beverly Landfair

Since moving to San Miguel permanently in April of this year, Michael and I have moved into our rented casa for one year and acclimated is it to this city with relative ease.  I thought that it would be very tough to leave loved ones and dear friends in Portland.  What a surprise!  It has been easy because everyone is still alive and they have the option to visit us in San Miguel.

I will be writing about my take on living in a new town and not just any town but in a foreign land far, far away from our perceived comfort zone.  I love that every day is different.  I love the weather and the birds chirping and the bells ringing and the Mexican people singing and talking.  I love the food and walking to get what we need and want and only using our car to go on short or long trips.

Tomorrow:  Food Shopping, the learning curve

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Colima Volcano Erupts

Ash and cinders spewing from the Colima Volcano in western Mexico have prompted authorities to evacuate 19 people from a nearby village.

The volcano began erupting on Thursday and has become increasingly active, leading officials to relocate people from the community of Yerbabuena in the municipality of Comala.

Civil Protection officials said Saturday the residents were taken to a temporary shelter. Residents of other communities were evacuating voluntarily.

The department reported that 2 inches (5 centimeters) of ash had fallen on Yerbabuena.

The Colima Volcano, which sits near the border of the western states of Colima and Jalisco, is also known as the Volcano of Fire.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Bev Landfair Joins Mexico Calling As Writer

As Beverly Landfair, I am accepting your invitation to blog on your site as I see fit.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque Hydraulic System

Mexico News Daily announced that "Mexico now has 33 UNESCO World Heritage Sites following the addition yesterday of the Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque to the list."

Built between 1554 and 1571, the aqueduct is noted for its series of arches, three in total, of which the Main Arcade with 67 arches is the tallest at 39 meters. It crosses the Papalote River near Santiago Tepeyahualco.

This 16th century aqueduct is located between the states of Mexico and Hidalgo, on the Central Mexican Plateau. This heritage canal system encompasses a water catchment area, springs, canals, distribution tanks and arcaded aqueduct bridges. The site incorporates the highest single-level arcade ever built in an aqueduct. Initiated by the Franciscan friar, Padre Tembleque, and built with support from the local indigenous communities, this hydraulic system is an example of the exchange of influences between the European tradition of Roman hydraulics and traditional Mesoamerican construction techniques, including the use of adobe.

It's amazing to me that Columbus sailed in 1492 and half a century later we have such sophisticated structures in Mexico

Eat Mexico

If you're going to talk about a cuisine with authority, there's one surefire way to get it: Go to the source and eat it there. Author and former Texan Lesley Tellez did that one better: She lived in Mexico for four years, giving her a fluency with the cuisine and culture that she shares in a new cookbook, "Eat Mexico: Recipes From Mexico City's Streets, Markets and Fondas." (Kyle Books).

Eat Mexico is a culinary love letter to one of the biggest cities in the world—a chaotic, vibrant place where residents eat from sidewalk grills and stands, and markets and casual restaurants serve up fresh, hot food daily. In this book, journalist Lesley Téllez—who also runs her own food tour company in Mexico City—takes you through the city's most classic dishes, offering recipes from her favorite haunts on the streets, in city markets, and in small, homestyle fondas.

A Trip to the ER

About 9:00 pm, I got a call from our good friends and neighbors. "It's an emergency." Can you take my husband to the hospital? The four of us piled into the car and drove to the emergency room over on the Libremiento. Bev and I dropped the two off at the door and parked the car. We had no idea how long we would be here. Judging by the States and my visits to places like this, we could be here for six to eight hours. Instead when we got to the waiting room, the emergency staff was already seeing  to his kidney stone(s). The docs said he needed to stay the night and they needed 7,500 pesos as a down payment, about $500.

The sky opened up as we ran through the deluge for the car. The lightning was flashing overhead. We fought high water all the way home. The rain was coming off the roof's gutters. It was like driving through a waterfall. We were home by 10:30 pm. Imagine, round trip in an hour and a half.

One note: When we first started coming to Mexico the exchange rate was 10 pesos to a dollar. Today it is 15.82 to the dollar. Assuming the hospital prices haven't gone up, in the past the down payment would have been 5,000 pesos not 7,500. That is a huge increase. In all probability, the price would probably been $300 to $400.

We have found the medical care to be excellent.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

To Rod With Love

A memorial gathering was held at Orquidea Underground tonight for Rod Molot, chef and owner of the Thai restaurant. She suddenly died just shy of 38th birthday on June 30. It was also the one year anniversary of the opening of Orquidea. Luis Gasca was there tonight playing the trumpet, along with Cuban pianist Gabriel Hernandez and Luis' wife Janice Honeycutt.

It was a large crowd that hugged and shed tears for a beautiful and talented Rod, who was born and raised in Thailand, then moved to San Antonio before settling in San Miguel.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

For Sale: #66 Umaran

The owner has put where we live, our rental until April 1, 2016, up for sale. Unless the new owner wants a good renter, we will be moving by April 1, 2016. Here's a link to the ad: It's only listed for $399,000. We will miss the convenience to restaurants, the Jardin, and the easy walks. If you hear of a rental comparable to where we are now, let us know. All I want is 2BD/2BA, terraces with a great view, in or close to the Jardin, a pool would be nice for $1,000 mas o menos a month.