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Mexican Kaleidoscope - Myths, Mysteries & Mystique. A review of Tony Burton's newest book. Reviewed by Rita Pomade

Tony Burton’s recently published Mexican Kaleidoscope is a whirlwind trip through some of the underpinnings of Mexican culture, told with humour, affection and well-documented facts. This readable compendium of little known stories made me want to revisit many places I’d already seen. How much richer my experiences would have been had I been able to take this user-friendly and easily carried tome of gems with me when I was in Mexico. read more

Pilgrimage with La Virgen de Zapopan Dane Chandos

The much venerated image of Mexico's Virgin of Zapopan
This is an account of the annual procession of La Virgen de Zapopan from te Cathedral in Guadalajara to her home in the Basilica de Zapopan, as experienced in the early 1940s. The procession always takes place on October 12th.

They say that, in the seventeenth century, the storms in Guadalajara were so severe that repeatedly bell ringers in the churches were killed, so that at last they brought into the city the most venerated virgin of the neighbourhood, she of Zapopan.

Ever since that first summer, centuries ago, she has passed the whole rainy season in Guadalajara, from June through September, staying two weeks in each church... read more

Tears from the Crown of Thorns: The Easter Passion Play in San Miguel de Allende Reviewed by Allan Cogan

"People unfamiliar with the Latin culture are curious, confused, and sometimes repulsed by the emphasis on suffering in religious figures. During Easter in North America, the focus is on the resurrection and the delights of spring. The event is concerned with the awe of transformation. There is resistance to facing the suffering that is a major part of this epic…." read more

Mexican photographer Enrique Metinides: The man who saw too much Erin Cassin

Exploring Enrique Metinides' images is to immerse yourself in those depths of humanity awash in raw emotion, as the 79-year-old photographer has captured some of the most poignant moments to unfold on ... read more

Ask an old gringo about Mexico education, politics and miracle cures Marvin West

For some strange reason, an unusual assortment of questions about Mexico education appeared in my e-mailbox. It could be the world has heard about De Panzazo, the new documentary loaded with enough blame to go around. read more

There is no such thing as a bullfight Larry Freeman

From the outside, this bullring resembles nothing so much as a red erector-set construction but inside, it is a concrete-stepped cone funneling down to the sand, on which are painted two white rings, o... read more

Maya Doomsday Maggie Van Ostrand

El Castillo at Chichen Itza
© Elisa Vazquez, 2008

I'm sick and tired of hearing disagreements between the U.S.A. and Mexico. First, there's the emigration thing with fences and coyotes and blustering politicians; second is the drug thing where the U.S. blames Mexico for their own addictive population; and now the U.S. is blaming the Maya for a prophesied 2012 doomsday scenario.

read more

Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat Maggie Van Ostrand

John Steinbeck penned his famous book, Tortilla Flat, in 1935, and apparently never considered Hollywood's casting choices when it was made into a film in 1942. If he had, he would've fallen flat himse... read more

US postage stamps and Tijuana, Mexico's Seabiscuit connection Maggie Van Ostrand

Seabiscuit Stamped Envelope (44 cents)
© United States Postal Service, 2009
In 1934 during the depths of the Great Depression, horse trainer Tom Smith was living out of a stall at Mexico's Agua Caliente racetrack in Tijuana. Flat broke, Smith shared the stall with Noble Threewit, who trained horses for a friend of Charles Howard. Howard was seeking a trainer for his new horse, Seabiscuit, a seemingly incorrigible Thoroughbred. read more

Washing Dishes in the Ancient Village / Lavando platos en el antiguo pueblo: A Few Comments Reviewed by James Tipton

Washing Dishes in the Ancient Village / Lavando platos en el antiguo pueblo: Poetry by James Tipton
A little over a year ago, I was searching for a title to pull these short poems together. Enedina stepped out to wash dishes in the cold water of the worn concrete tank immediately behind the house. She greeted that first morning of the new year in her short white dress and white high heeled shoes. read more

Speaking of Mexico Tammy Ruggles

There is nothing that can compare with the sounds, tastes, and delights of Mexico. Many words have passed through many lips about Mexico, from Herb Alpert to Erik Estrada -- some humorous, some poignan... read more

Where Divergent Religious Customs Merge: Death Of An Infant In Oaxaca Alvin Starkman

Between the birth and the death came a crazy-quilt of only-in-Mexico experiences that resonated with my memories Daniel Pérez González was a beautiful baby. His parents Flor and Jo... read more

The Guaymas Chronicles: La Mandadera by David E. Stuart Reviewed by Allan Cogan

Although it's about Mexico, this one starts off in Ecuador in the 1960s where the author was doing doctoral fieldwork for a dissertation on haciendas in that country. His work took him to a remote research station on the side of a mountain seventy miles from electricity, running water, telephones, etc. One day while riding his horse along the side of a gorge, with the bottom of a canyon almost a thousand feet below him, the horse stumbled and fell. On its way over the edge it rolled over Stuart and disappeared, leaving him badly crippled. He was rescued and eventually found his way to Guaymas, on the coast of the Sea of Cortez, in Mexico, where his fiancé, Iliana, lived. Thus begins the story of his recuperation and, at the same time, the exploration of Mexican society and customs which is described here. read more

Queen of the South by Arturo Perez Reverte Reviewed by Allan Cogan

The story line concerns a young Mexican girl, Teresa Mendoza, 23 years old, who is in love with a Chicano Cessna pilot who flies cocaine and hashish from Colombia to locations in Texas. It's a dangerous trade to be in and Teresa's lover, Güero Dávila, is well aware of the risks, not only from drug enforcement agents but also from rival narcotraficantes. With the former, the risks are imprisonment. With the latter, the penalty is death should one lose a shipment or not play the game the way the bosses want it played. read more

Agave Marias: Border Crossers, Boundary Breakers by the Lake Chapala Women Writers Reviewed by Allan Cogan

Here's an unusual volume with ten individual authors, each of whom is independent of the other nine except for the fact they all reside - either full or part-time - in the Lake Chapala area of Mexico. Their book consists of some 45 or more pieces of fiction and non-fiction plus a poem or three. The non-fiction includes travel tales, accounts of significant events in the authors' past lives, recollections of interesting people and other offbeat memoirs and anecdotes. read more

Creations In Silver - By Dona Eva Martinez Charles E. Moritzky

The designs of Doña Eva Martinez are mostly 18th and 19th century with some pre-hispanic symbolism, predominantly earrings. They are of pure silver and treated to give an antique finish. The designs a... read more

Mexican Mornings: Essays South of the Border by Michael Hogan Reviewed by Allan Cogan

Here's an interesting and entertaining collection of essays, mainly about Mexico, like "The Crawling Things of Paradise", a small tribute to all the crawling, flying, buzzing, poisonous, and non-poisonous insects to be found in the state of Jalisco. In the essay "Connections: Odysseus and the Gran Chingón" we find a quite learned investigation into the prevalence of machismo in Latin American society. On the more sober side there are copious references throughout - both critical and positive - to the Mexican natural environment, the economy and the Mexican character. read more

Mexicans: Changing The Eastern Oregon Perspective Amanda Villagómez

Large families, devout Catholics, modest clothing, very poor - these are some of the common preconceived notions about Mexicans from a rural eastern Oregon perspective. However, such a view is limiting... read more

Cantinflas, the castillo and ponche in the plaza Wendy Devlin

As the evening mass ended, the huge colonial doors of Santa Maria Magdalena swung open. People swarmed down the church stairs into the plaza. I moved along with the crowd to a wrought iron bench.... read more

The Festival Internacional Cervantino in Guanajuato Ana Cervantes

Guanajuato is, and has been for a long time, a centre of culture and education. In one way or another, it has always been prosperous, either through the richness of its farmland or its mines. There was... read more

Guanajuato's sonic landscape Ana Cervantes

Sometime during my first month in Guanajuato, the idea floated into my head of writing an article about the sonic landscape of the city. This of course includes a great deal of music, since it resounds... read more

Life and music in Guanajuato Ana Cervantes

The city of Guanajuato is nestled in a sort of steep basin in the Sierra Madre Mountains and spreads up around the center of the basin. Imagine a huge, terraced rice paddy such as we've seen in photos ... read more

A gift for giving: The mandy Man of Mata Ortiz Michael Allan Williams

Juan Mata Ortíz is a small village of potters, farmers and cowboys in Northern Chihuahua. About 30 years ago, an unschooled artistic genius, Juan Quezada, taught himself how to make ollas, eart... read more

Your own celebration of the Day of the Dead Cat Gonzales

A few months ago I received an email request from a small town in Texas. The writer Ray and his fiance wanted my guidance in celebrating the Day of the Dead. My answer was - celebrate it in your own wa... read more

To the charreada with stars in her eyes Wendy Devlin

"There is a sensitive filament in our beings, which responds to Mexican music…. To the sight of a horse well ridden, to the spectacle of a bull skillfully lassoed…. All of us, a... read more
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