Recent columnist articles

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...

read more

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

Ask an old gringo about Mexico taxes, cars, health, welfare and vacations Marvin West

Street scene in Sayulita, a beach town on the Mexican Pacific coast
© Christina Stobbs, 2012
Question: Where do you go for vacation when you live your life on vacation?

Answer: That is a misleading implication. Retirement in Mexico is fun and we are grateful. Winter weather is wonderful where we live. Flowers bloom. Strawberries are inexpensive and very tasty. Alas, every day is not a perfect holiday. read more

San Miguel de Allende: A Place in the Heart - Expatriates Find Themselves Living in Mexico Reviewed by James Tipton

John Scherber's thoughtful and satisfying book, San Miguel de Allende: A Place in the Heart (2010), is a collection of stories about North Americans "who live here full time, as I do." San Miguel de Allende is their home.

The idea of the book originated when Scherber, after living in San Miguel for only eight months, began asking himself questions like: "What had I given up to come here, and what had I gained? What was my new role in the community? Was I an exile? An expatriate? Would I ever live in the States again? How did I react to Americans I saw here visiting? What had I done?" read more
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