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Mexico success story: San Quintin Escuela Marvin West

Tennessee teachers at San Quintin primary school
© Marvin West, 2014
How this very rural elementary school has risen from nothing to something special is a stunning success story. The small Nayarit village in the foothills of the Sierra de Vallejo mountains, just 40 kilometers from downtown Puerto Vallarta, is a different world.

It is not distinctive and has been that way for generations.

Until Edd Bissell, by the grace of God or a quirk of fate, discovered the school and adopted it, nobody — nobody — had ever been beyond sixth grade. Today, a young woman is in her senior year of college architecture and several youth are in high school.,,. read more

Ask an old gringo about Frida Kahlo, Mexico contradictions, colorful protests Marvin West

Land's End at Cabo San Lucas
© Joe Cummings, 1998
I repeat: Contrary to rumor, many years and extensive travels in Mexico do not qualify me as a know-it-all, A-1 infallible expert. I apologize if I have faked you out.

I do try to answer all questions or redirect them to more knowledgeable sources. I thoroughly enjoy most exchanges with readers. I offer a few from time to time in a basic conversion to pesos (not many).

Question: How bad are things in Cabo? Answer: Cabo San Lucas, at the south end of Baja California Sur, took a hard hit from Hurricane Odile. The storm knocked out electricity which knocked out other services.

Some tourists got wet and inconvenienced. Vacations were spoiled but no lives were lost. Resort owners will likely recover. Little people are hurting. Tourism is the primary industry. No tourists, no jobs, no pesos...

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Ask an old gringo about Octavio Paz, Mexico reforms, giant fish tank, price break Marvin West

Spanish edition of The Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz
Octavio Paz was a thinker, poet, writer and diplomat. Mexico's Congress has declared this "The Year of Octavio Paz" a century after his birth and 16 years after his death.

He was good enough to get the Nobel Prize for literature in 1990. In his most famous essay, "The Labyrinth of Solitude," Paz addressed the complexity of the Mexican mind. read more

San Patricio by the Sea on Mexico's Pacific coast Marvin West

San Patricio by the Sea, an interdenominational community church on Mexico's Pacific coast
© Marvin West, 2014
As churches go, San Patricio by the Sea is an intriguing addition in the low-rent district.

It had a humble beginning, born of need in the late 1990s.

There were hundreds, maybe a few thousands, of Americans and Canadians, residents and snowbirds, in the region but no religious services in English for many, many miles along the west bank, nothing from El Tecuan to Manzanillo and beyond... read more

Ask an old gringo about Mexico economy, Guerrero recovery, anchovy gelato and Yescka Marvin West

Cliff divers at Acapulco carry on the famous tradition of cliff diving
© Gerry  Soroka, 2009
It appears much of the world is very interested in Mexico. A surprising number of Mexconnect readers asked the old gringo about the economy, reforms, boats, Guerrero recovery, Michaocan dangers — and hospitality.
Some questions are far out. One asked about anchovy gelato. Another asked about Yescka. That got my undivided attention... read more

A cabin near Puerto Vallarta David Kimball

Seven US presidents were born in log cabins. The most notable, of course, was Lincoln. During elections, all of them were quick to remind the public of their humble frontier origins with fulsome refere... read more

Ask an old gringo: Mexico questions about tuna war, holidays, spelling errors and dinosaurs Marvin West

A young and smiling calavera
© Geri Anderson 2007

Question: What holidays are big in Mexico?

Answer: Oh boy, judging by the joy and noise, Mexicans celebrate dozens of giant holidays. Most any excuse is good for a day off from work, a neighborhood fiesta and late-night fireworks.

The Day of the Dead is not a conventional holiday but it is an intriguing cultural event. My Mexican friends describe it as beautiful, magical, mystical, religious and pagan — all at the same time...

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Listen up: Sounds of Mexico Marvin West

Women charros or escaramuzas© Jay Koppelman, 2010
Nobody asks about the sounds of Mexico. Upon arrival, that oversight leads directly to surprise or culture shock. Mexicans live life loudly. Church bells ring very early in the morning. Public address systems have no limits. Car stereos are cranked up to concert level. read more

Ask an old gringo about Mexican happiness, jobs for foreigners, Mormon mother, books in English Marvin West

Happiness is not tied to job promotions, Mercedes super cars and mansions on mountaintops. Expectations are generally lower. Many do not enter the rat race. Strange as it sounds, family, good food, good times and a sip of tequila are more important than pesos... read more

Canada to Mexico: From there to here Marvin West

Happiness is following memorable footsteps under more favorable conditions. Most of 50 years ago, outside London, Ontario, brothers Jim and Jack Young acquired an old truck and bulldozer and made a bo... read more
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