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How Mexico will attract 5 million U.S. retirees Maggie Van Ostrand

About one million U.S. expats already live in Mexico, and that number can grow to five million by 2025, according to estimates based on U.S. Census figures. And healthcare costs in Mexico are approximately 70 per cent lower than healthcare costs in the U.S. Nine Mexican hospitals have already been certified by the U.S. Joint International Commission, and others are currently awaiting certification. read more

New Year's Non-Resolutions Maggie Van Ostrand

Windshield wipers. You probably think they always came on cars, but they didn't. In fact, some taxis today, at least in Mexico, have them but they don't work and when it rains, the cabbie has to hang out the driver's window and swipe at the windshield with a greasy rag.

So next time you're driving in the rain, say thanks to a lady from Alabama, Mary Anderson, who invented and patented the windshield wiper in 1905. I only wish they put one on each of the side view mirrors. read more

The crookedest Christmas tree Maggie Van Ostrand

One long-ago year, my Dad was out of work, much as fathers are today, but he was determined we'd have a tree just the same. All four of us, Dad, Mom, my sister and I, went to McNally's, the local man who sold trees just once a year. We couldn't afford any of his trees, except the worst looking thing on the entire lot. To call it "scrawny" would've been a compliment. It had a skinny trunk an 8-year-old could put her thumb and forefinger completely around and it was not blessed with more than half a dozen nearly bald branches. Besides all that, it tilted like the Tower of Pisa. My sister and I looked at each other in teary dismay. read more

Why don't doctors ask Josefina in Mexico? Maggie Van Ostrand

Josefina is the woman who, when I was bitten by a scorpion and hysterically yelling for help, simply went to the top shelf of her kitchen cabinet, withdrew a glass jar containing a dead scorpion in sticky fluid, and applied the fluid to my wound. "Voila!" The pain immediately subsided, and that was the end of my trauma.

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Mexico's national bird: caracara means more than 'face face' Maggie Van Ostrand

Its an oddity that most people I've asked don't know the National Bird of Mexico, especially considering that everyone seems to know that the eagle is the US National Bird. Do you know what Mexico's National Bird is? I only found out yesterday. Mexico's National Bird is the crested caracara, a mix between an eagle and a vulture or buzzard, and cousin to the falcon. read more

When I took Fernando to Guanajuato Maggie Van Ostrand

With his parents' permission, I took Fernando, my 12-year-old English student, to Guanajuato, the seat of the Mexican War of Independence, for two days. We ate at a sidewalk cafe that offered nutritious hot fudge sundaes and banana splits. On to Alhondiga de Granaditas, formerly the massive town granary.... read more

The Brownsville-Matamoros Ferry: crossing the Rio Grande from 1818 to 1929 Maggie Van Ostrand

Old is good, especially when it's a freshly discovered newspaper from April 1929. It's exciting to read things that happened even before the stock market crash was to occur that coming October, leading America into one of the bleakest periods in our history. That sad period also saw the close of the oldest institution on the lower Mexican border: the Brownsville-Matamoros ferry.

The ferry (chalon) was an efficient means of transportation between the U.S. and Mexico for 110 years but, in 1929, it took its last trip across the Rio Grande. read more

Seven reasons why tourists to Mexico should choose Ajijic Maggie Van Ostrand

Bandstand in the plaza of Ajijic, a charming Mexican town on the shore of Lake Chapala.
We have a magnificent lake and a nearby international airport. At the Lake Chapala Society, there are no strangers, only friends you haven't met yet. We have great music, boutique hotels, fresh air and pyramids not too far away. Think about it! Ajijic could be that magical place you're looking for. read more

The legend of Joaquin Murrieta: Mexico's Robin Hood or just plain hood? Maggie Van Ostrand

Everything about Joaquin Murrieta is disputed. He was either the Mexican Robin Hood or the El Dorado Robin Hood. He was either an infamous bandito or a Mexican patriot. He was born in either Alamos or Trincheras, in either Sonora Mexico or Quillota Chile. He was either descended from Cherokee ancestors who migrated to Chile in the late 18th century, or a noble Spanish landowner. He either sympathized with Native Americans or with Mexicans.
An undisputed truth about Joaquin Murrieta is... read more

Mexico's gift to opera, Rolando Villazon Maggie Van Ostrand

Emilio Rolando Villazón Mauleón is the world's next great tenor, at least equal to Placido Domingo, but easier on the eyes and with far more dramatic gifts. You don't have to know anything about opera to appreciate Villazón's voice. When you hear him sing, your jaw drops, your eyes glaze over, and the hairs on your arm stand to attention. This, I thought, is a voice for the ages. I felt like Al Capone must have felt the first time he heard the voice of Enrico Caruso. Villazón was born in 1972 in the Mexico City suburb of Fuentes de Satellite. 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.

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How the Mexican fire plant became the poinsettia Maggie Van Ostrand

Once upon a time in Mexico, a little boy was walking to church to see the Nativity scene. He thought hard about a gift to bring the Christ child, but had no money to buy one. Jesus will understand, thought the little boy stopping to gather a few bare weedy branches lying at the side of the dusty road, because my gift will be given with love.... read more

The Zapata interview Maggie Van Ostrand

In 1916, an intrepid reporter, Guillermo Ojara, was assigned by his paper, El Demócrata, to go south to seek and interview Emiliano Zapata. After harrowing incidents with hundreds of Zapatistas in the mountains, valleys, even The Hill of the Scorpions inhabited by thousands of those deadly creatures, Ojara was finally brought to his subject 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

Josefina: you got to know when to fold 'em Maggie Van Ostrand

When Kenny Rogers sang, "Ya got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em … " in his hit, "The Gambler," he was singing about more than playing cards, he was singing about life with Josefina. ... read more

Tourism in Mexico City, Cancun and Ajijic Maggie Van Ostrand

Mexico's economic downturn may be worse than those of other nations, because so much of Mexico's economy depends on tourism. Entrance to Mexico City © Anthony Wright, 2009 Mexico City is desper... read more

Six degrees of separation: how a Mexican star became a Cajun legend Maggie Van Ostrand

statue of Evangeline in St. Martinville, Louisiana

Even if you have never wondered what ties Mexico to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, I'm going to tell you anyway. It begins with a poem.

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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

Cejas and the great escape: Dog rescue in Tijuana Maggie Van Ostrand

 
A warm-hearted missionary rescues a Tijuana street dog and smuggles him across the border to a new home in California. read more

Juanita and the president: Obama's Mexican connection Maggie Van Ostrand

Juanita, newly arrived from Zacatecas, and who has no reason in the world to make things up, admitted to being in love with the new American President. read more

From conspicuous consumption to conspicuous frugality Maggie Van Ostrand

Ever since Al Gore sounded the alarm about global warming, everyone on earth is aware that mankind (an oxymoron if ever I heard one) must preserve itself and the environment if it is to survive. We mus... read more

Wishes Instead of Resolutions Maggie Van Ostrand

For a change, this year I'm not going to fool around with a list of resolutions to alter my behavior, resolutions that have always been elasticized by my characteristic rationalization. There's always ... read more

My first Christmas in Mexico Maggie Van Ostrand

Everyone who relocates to Mexico sooner or later cooks a big holiday dinner for visiting family and friends. My first Christmas, everyone I ever knew, casually met, or went to high school with, showed ... read more

English, and how she is spoken Maggie Van Ostrand

Global economy just can't be ignored any longer, no matter how hard I try. To keep up with the times and learn at least one more language while still keeping things simple, Spanish seemed a good choice... read more
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