Saturday, August 22, 2015

Peso at Record Low, Growth Forecast Cut

Mexico News Daily reported "The peso plunged today to a record low of 17.28 to the dollar to crown a week of dismal news, including another reduction in the growth forecast for this year, lower industrial output, sliding oil prices and worries about U.S. interest rates, China and Greece.

The Finance Secretariat yesterday reduced its forecast for growth this year to 2% to 2.8%, down from May’s figures of 2.2% to 3.2%. The Bank of Mexico lowered its forecast last week to 1.7% to 2.5%.

The Mexican economy expanded by 0.5% in the second quarter, which was just above expectations. But industrial output was flat, another cause for concern, as exports to the U.S. were uneven and oil production continued to drop.

Those two factors are weighing on the economy, said Undersecretary of Finance Fernando Aportela. And Deutsche Bank economist Alexis Milo said industrial output “remains the main concern for growth.”

If there was any good news it was in the 0.9% expansion in the second quarter of the service sector, the strongest in a year.

Source: Reuters (en), Bloomberg (en)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Mexican Peso Hits Lowest Level Against the US Dollar

A news story from ABCNews:

The Mexican peso has hit its lowest level ever against the dollar Wednesday, trading an average of 16.52 16.76 on the interbank market, the Bank of Mexico said.

The decline, the latest in a string of new lows this year, is due to pressure from falling oil prices and an anticipated interest rate hike in the U.S., MetAnalisis consultant Gerardo Copca told The Associated Press. He said it also was influenced by the poor performance of China's economy, which puts pressure on the exchange market.

The peso has seen a big fall this year despite efforts by the Central Bank to prop it up by auctioning dollars on the exchange market. The bank auctioned $233 million Wednesday, but it did not stop the currency from hitting the new low.

MetAnalisis statistics say the peso has depreciated 12 percent 13.6 percent in 2015.

Copca said a rise in U.S. interest rates creates a demand for dollars in the Mexican market to be shipped north, strengthening the price against the local currency. He said it's difficult to predict, but the peso "could continue to depreciate."

Bank of Mexico Gov. Agustin Carstens, in a column in the newspaper Reforma on Sunday, said the causes for the record drop are global and external to Mexico, with the dollar strengthening against currencies in both advanced and emerging countries.

"Our country is not among those hardest hit," he said, adding that despite the currency devaluation, Mexico is seeing low inflation and interest rates. He said the drop will be offset by financial stability and steady economic growth.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Who Stole Our License Plate???

By Beverly Landfair

The Clampett Mobile

After returning from a great treat of an afternoon at Rancho Zandunga to hear Gil Gutierrez and Pedro Cartas entertain us with music, drink and food, Michael found a close parking place on our street, Calle Umaran.  Sometimes, parking can be very tight here on the week-ends and we felt fortunate to nab a good spot.  

Upon pouring our first cup of coffee the next morning, a neighbor guy knocked on our door handing us a traffic ticket.  What???  Apparently, that great park job was in front of a garage door on the opposite side of the street and is a big no-no to block here in Centro San Miguel.  In addition to the ticket, the Policia took our back license plate.  After marching down to the Municipal Building on the Jardin and plunking down our $171. Pesos, they gleefully returned our back license plate.

Lesson learned.  Maybe the United States of America should take a tip from San Miguel.  It sure would be easy to spot the slackers who did not pay their fine. 

Life is never boring here in San Miguel.

Nagasaki Survivor Lives in San Miguel de Allende

Interesting story in the Japan Times:

Yasuaki Yamashita moved to Mexico nearly half a century ago to try to forget about his exposure to atomic-bomb radiation, but for the past 20 years he has been speaking publicly there about his experiences.

Yamashita was 6 years old and was at his home in Nagasaki when the atomic bomb was dropped on Aug. 9, 1945, reducing much of the city to dust.

His father began to help recovering bodies the following day, but about a month later he became half paralyzed and fell into coma. He died of a brain hemorrhage a decade later, having never regained consciousness.

The family struggled in poverty. To help support them, one of Yamashita’s older sisters got a job at the prefectural office after graduating from a junior high school. She delayed her marriage to enable Yamashita to go to high school.

He graduated from high school and repeatedly changed jobs over the next three years while experiencing recurrent anemia.

When he was about 20 and working as a clerk at the Japanese Red Cross Nagasaki Genbaku Hospital, an atomic-bomb survivor of the same age who was a patient there suddenly developed small spots all over his body and died the following day.

Yamashita recalled it was at that time that he became painfully aware that he was an atomic bomb victim himself, and feared a similar fate.

“Being afraid of the prejudice and discrimination (against hibakusha) I had seen and heard, I wanted to get out of Japan (and travel) to a new place,” Yamashita, 76, said in an interview in New York.

He became interested in Mexico, learned Spanish and left for the country in 1968 after landing a job related to the year’s Summer Olympics in Mexico City. After that event, he stayed in the country with the support of local friends, working as an interpreter or translator for Japanese companies and other clients there.

In 1995, at a time of international protests over a French nuclear test, Yamashita received a phone call from a Mexican university student who wished to hear about his experiences as an atomic-bomb survivor.

He turned down the request but the student persisted, and Yamashita eventually agreed to speak publicly about his experiences for the first time at the age of 56.

“I felt relieved because the students listened to me attentively, and I found it necessary to talk to more people about my experiences.”

Yamashita has continued relating his experience ever since then, in the hopes that he can contribute to ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

“I’m hoping so, having been healed myself by talking about my experiences,” said Yamashita, who now lives in San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Joyous Evening in SMA


What a night. Last night we dined with the Waddy-Wares at El Correo. Good Guac, margs and lemonada mineral and enchiladas. On the way home, we walked in the setting sun. It was warm and a little windy. Coming down Umaran, I spotted a man with a yellow lab on a leash. The lab had a beautiful face. I stopped to take her picture. Poe was her name and just a sweetheart and loved the attention. She is nine and owned since birth by artist Joaquin Pineiro. He offered me his card and I laughed. He explained, in so many words, how he was devoted to his dog and provided a service. His card shows a painting of his dog Poe.

I laughed at his humor and vowed to visit his gallery Joaquin Pineiro at 20 de Enero 110B, Col. San Antonio.

In the Jardin, the giant lady bowed to tickled children, families spent time with their children, lovers stood in the enwrapped in arms, tourists snapped selfies and group photos all in the evening light while the mariachis played their music. It just puts a smile on my face.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

An Aging Population With Limited Services

Seniors: greater numbers, greater needs. HORA CERO
The U.S. isn't the only country with an aging Boomer population. Mexico, pointed out by Mexico News Daily, has an aging population of Boomer's. "Twenty-five years ago there were 5,536,866 seniors in Mexico and today it is estimated there are more than 12 million. By 2030 there could be as many as 20 million."

Yet there are not the support services for this group in Mexico. Read more here.

Sunday, August 9, 2015


Astrid Galvan of the AP, reports, "The cost of dental care has surged in the last two decades in the U.S.and continues to increase at a rate of 5 percent annually. Many dental plans have high deductibles and don't offer extensive coverage. Many people opt out.

"... many are seeking cheaper care in places like Los Algodones, where Mexican dentists who speak English and sometimes accept U.S. insurance offer rock-bottom prices for everything from a cleaning to implants. Dentists in Los Algodones say a large portion of their clients are seniors.

"Mexico has lower costs because of cheaper labor and fewer regulatory requirements. Residents in border towns like El Paso, Texas and Nogales, Sonora, often make the short drive to the Mexican side for basic medical needs and prescription medications that are much costlier in the U.S. Some businesses even offer shuttle services from the Phoenix area to Los Algodones, a nearly 200-mile ride.:

Read more here

3 Mexican authors for a summer reading list

Latin American authors are often absent from suggested English-language reading lists, wrote Maria Sanchez Diez for Quartz June 28, despite a demographic shift that has been taking place in the United States for many years. For Mexico News Daily readers who might enjoy reading the work of the new generation of Mexican authors, here are the three Mexican writers from the Quartz list and some recommended reading.

First up is Yuri Herrera, whose Signs Preceding the End of the World is described as a breathtaking novel that tells of the mission of a young girl sent to track down and rescue her brother, who has disappeared in the U.S. “Makina’s character encapsulates the Mexican immigrant’s Odyssey toward the north, as Herrera explores the symbolic and psychological dimension that every transition carries,” writes Diez.

The book was Herrera’s third. His fourth, The Transmigration of Bodies, is due to be published in English next year. Novelist and short story writer Guadalupe Nettel has created a mosaic of unforgettable characters in Natural Histories. Among them, the pregnant woman who spends her days observing how two fishes fight, the bourgeois family whose apartment is taken over by cockroaches or the couple of musicians who share a genital infection.

The tales explore the intersection between animal and human behavior, and how biological instincts influence relationships. Another more recent book by Nettel is The Body Where I Was Born, an autobiographical novel in which the narrator recalls her childhood and an eye anomaly from the couch of a psychoanalyst.

Valeria Luiselli is one of the youngest “and most talented” figures in Mexican literature, says Diez. Her Faces in the Crowd is an award-winning tale about the Spanish-speaking literary diaspora in New York.

For non-fiction, Diez suggests Luiselli’s collection of essays entitled Sidewalks. Her latest book is the novel The Story of My Teeth, which relates the tale of a man who tries to replace his repulsive teeth.

Mexico News Daily

Purchase the electronic edition of any of the suggested books by clicking on the name of the bookseller.

Yuri Herrera:

Signs Preceding the End of the World

Guadalupe Nettel:

Natural Histories

The Body Where I Was Born

Valeria Luiselli:

Faces in the Crowd


The Story of My Teeth

Saturday, August 8, 2015

How to Handle Bank Card Trouble When Traveling Abroad

Banking nightmares can happen to even the most seasoned traveler.

Just ask Billie Frank. An avid traveler and co-founder of concierge and trip planning company The Santa Fe Traveler,, Frank tried to withdraw about $230 after hours from a Banco Santander ATM in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, in October. The machine gave Frank her card and a withdrawal receipt, but kept the cash.

“The great takeaway for us was not to use an ATM when the bank is not open,” she says.

Whether it’s a malfunctioning ATM, a misplaced card or an aggressive pickpocket, banking issues that are merely inconvenient at home can spur panic when they occur in a foreign country. Planning ahead and knowing what to do can spare you headaches and save your trip from getting derailed.

Call your bank If you lose your debit card to an ATM or pickpocket, or simply misplace it, the best thing to do is stay calm and call your bank, says Tami Farrow, senior vice president and head of retail deposit payments at TD Bank, which serves the eastern U.S. from Maine to Florida.

“Make sure you know how to contact your bank internationally,” Farrow says. “Quite often your bank’s 800 number won’t work when you’re overseas.” A

Although your bank may not be able to retrieve your card from a faulty ATM, it can advise you on what to do next and suspend the card if necessary. In some cases, it will even send you a replacement by overnight carrier.

Larger banks usually have a number for customers to call when they’re outside the U.S., but smaller credit unions and community banks often have just one all-purpose number for customers to report a lost or stolen card. Doing your research will help provide peace of mind when you need it. These links are a good place to start:

It’s also a good idea to call your bank before heading overseas to let it know when and where you will be traveling. That can be a good opportunity to confirm which number to call if something goes awry with your card.

Jessica Pociask, owner of  WANT Expeditions,, a wildlife and nature tour company in Traverse City, Michigan, suggests taking photographs of your plastic so you can easily find the account number of a lost or stolen card, as well as the number to reach the card issuer.

“Before every trip, I lay out all of my credit/debit cards, license and passport, take a photo of both the front and back, and email it to myself,” says Pociask, who has visited nearly 80 countries. “This has done wonders from preventing additional charges that I could possibly be liable for while traveling.”

Better to avoid storing the images on your cellphone, though, as they could wind up in the wrong hands if your phone is lost or stolen.

Have a backup If possible, it’s best to avoid relying on one card when traveling abroad. Instead, it’s better to pack multiple forms of payment — cash, debit and credit cards — so you have options if one goes missing or simply doesn’t work, Farrow says.

Some merchants in other countries may accept only MasterCard, while others take only Visa, for example. In many countries, you can use cards only with an EMV chip at unattended ticketing kiosks, like those at train stations and subway terminals.

Travelers should always have backup cash, Farrow says — advice Frank echoes after her ATM incident in Mexico.

But that snafu had a happy ending — eventually.

“About three weeks to the day the money was returned to our account,” Frank says. “We have a good relationship with our bank. I’m not sure it would have worked out, otherwise.”

Kelsey Sheehy is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Twitter: @KelseyLSheehy.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Three Quakes Near Cabo

  1. 5.1132km NE of San Jose del2015-08-07 01:52:20 UTC-05:0010.0 km
  2. 4.9106km SW of Navolato, Mexico2015-08-07 00:53:58 UTC-05:0010.0 km
  3. 5.3119km NE of San Jose del Cabo, Mexico2015-08-06 23:34:59 UTC-05:0010.0 km

And We Are Back

We arrived back in San Miguel de Allende at 11:00 pm. We got up at 3:30 am in PDX, so it was a long day.We schlepped five pieces of luggage including a box of clothes from the storage unit along with two carry on bags and my laptop. I managed to get my freelance writing done for 25 clients while away.

Front row: Gregor, Gary, Mom, Cheryl, Gilyn
Back row: Kevin, Ryan, Bev, Mike 

We were gone for 10 days to the states and stayed with Mom who celebrated her 91 years with a dinner at Beaches in Vancouver with the family, minus Erica who suffered heat exhaustion while hiking eight hours in the 100 degree heat. Sister Cheryl and Bev and I teamed up to buy a brewing machine for Mom that brews one cup at a time.

The one question that kept coming up was, "What do you do all day in SMA?" Then, "Do you like it there?"

I can wait at least a year before going back to PDX again. I think next time we drive so we can grab more stuff from the storage unit. We visited the old neighborhood for a block party, It was fun to see the good neighbors again. We felt no sadness or nostalgia however. It's like that part of our lives is over.

Oneonta Gorge


Jumping into the pool

Erica and part of the old highway

Erica and I decided last year to go to John Day and dig fossils for her birthday. With the weather so hot we decided all that time driving in the heat was not a good idea, so we opted for Bridle Vale Falls and Oneonta Gorge. Erica challenges me every time and this time was no exception. Getting to the falls at the back of the gorge was tricky. We had to climb over this huge log jam and at 71, I wondered if I was tempting fate. A fall here could lead to nasty consequences. I made it going and back and only fell once in the river. I fell to my knees and elbow, the one I broke last year, in water up to my neck, but managed to keep my phone above water.

Here's Bev and sister carol with Jane's 10 month-old Lauren

We stayed the last five days at Carol's, Bev's sister. We had a very relaxing time in their new Mountain Park house. The highlight was spending time with two-year old Perrie, who talks with a high little voice as she is in perpetual motion and Jane's 10 month-old Lauren.

As I write, I'm looking out to the terrace. The sun is shining and we are home.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Blue Moon and Popocatepetl Eruptions

Mexico’s National Center for Disaster Prevention recorded 13 explosions at Puebla state’s Popocatepetl volcano over the weekend. This video captures the volcanic activity on the evening of Saturday, August 1, along with a full moon. Popocatepetl is one of the most active volcanoes in North America, currently emitting a near constant stream of gas and ash. Credit: YouTube/webcamsdemexico