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Mexico magic is all around Marvin West

Tecozautla-Hidalgo
Pueblos Majicos
Unbelievable: Mexico has 111 magic towns with more in the hatchery. The Pueblos Mágicos program was launched in 2001 by Mexico’s Secretariat of Tourism in conjunction with other federal and stateagencies to promote towns chosen for natural beauty, cultural riches and historical relevance. read more

Mexican investigators may get bad rap Marvin West

K’inich Janaab’ Pakal death mask in jade.
The reputation of Mexican criminal investigators is often somewhere below zero, except on this occasion. They don’t even hear about a lot of crimes. They seldom solve cases. Even when they think they have caught a crook, they rarely gain convictions. Judges shake their heads. Maybe the warrant was defective, wrong address, misspelled name. Or maybe there is mistaken identity, that is not Jose. Stranger things have happened. I am reminded of the great Mexico museum robbery of long, long ago. It made huge headlines. I know. I wrote some. Thieves stole 140 thought-to-be-priceless Maya, Aztec and other artifacts from world-famous National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City on Christmas Eve 1985. Nothing like that had ever happened. read more

The bus goes everywhere. Marvin West

A Mexican local bus
Buses go everywhere in Mexico. Indeed, some encounter problems. There are natural, mechanical and human issues. Brakes fail. Weather is disruptive. Drivers doze. Fast buses smash into slow trucks. Dangerous curves are actually dangerous. There is another side to the story. The bus is one of the intriguing success stories in Mexico. The system works. The bus offers a somewhat economical and effective means to explore the entire country. read more

Secret places in Mexico Marvin West

Tarahumana
Ojo de Lago 1997
As a child, I sometimes read comic books for entertainment. I did not believe in flying dragons but they certainly stimulated the imagination. As an old-timer, older than dirt, I read travel writers just for fun. I do believe some write at great length about Mexico without ever visiting. Case in point: Smarter Travel magazine had a headline about Mexico secret places. That got my undivided attention. "Ready to discover the real Mexico? If you haven't yet ventured beyond the mega resorts and Senor Frog franchises, here's help. In these 10 cities, undiscovered by most American travelers, you'll see another side of Mexico." The thought of learning about 10 places “undiscovered by most American travelers” was exciting. For many years we have traveled widely but, unlike the Hank Snow long-ago song, we have not been everywhere. read more

Ask an old gringo about baseball, Canadians, ukuleles and orange juice Marvin West

Roberto Osuna
Readers of MexConnect magazine are sharper than the average turkey. They monitor the news, spot little headlines and hear tidbits and rumors related to Mexico and immediately check to see what the old gringo knows. Depending on the subject and how much really good Mexican coffee he had with breakfast, ability to inform fluctuates. His level of knowledge ranges from some, to a little, to not much but he keeps trying. He deals with questions more or less in the order of arrival -- or probable impact on his vast international following or whether he likes them or not read more

Missing Order of the Aztec Eagle Marvin West

Placa Orden Aguila Aztecal
Placa Orden Aguila Aztecal
I have waited and waited, patiently seven-eighths of the time. After all these years, after a hundred and a half MexConnect columns about Mexico, most of them favorable, I have not yet been invited into the Order of the Aztec Eagle. Past presidents of this colorful country could have done it with a wave of the magic wand. The present leader needs only speak the words – West next read more

Hurting Time for Mothers of Mexico Missing Marvin West

Christmas is family time. We see it in our community. Workers are off for a few extra days. Three generations climb into pickup trucks and go visit relatives – even if it is just across town. They have lunch and dinner gatherings. We see the extra children playing in the neighborhood. It is obvious when there is an empty chair at a table. read more

Ask an old gringo about tax cuts, wind farms, Alebrijes and egg sandwiches Marvin West

The alebrije is a uniquely Oaxacan variety of Mexican folk art. This one depicts a rabbit. © Alan Goodin 2007
Mexico is a very interesting country. If anything hasn’t already happened here, it soon will. Nowhere else in the world are people protesting because taxes are going down. $207 million USD has gone missing. Giant Alebrijes are roaming the streets, and egg sandwiches are missing from grocery stores. read more

Mexico changes, Mexico remains the same Marvin West

Pesos
The more Mexico changes, the more it remains the same. Despite delusions of assorted miracles, it is still largely a country where the past remains vividly present. We have been hearing about reforms since Enrique Peña Nieto launched his presidential campaign in November 2011. Together we will build a new and better Mexico, he said. As so eloquently added by a TV comedian, exaggerated promises come with “buckets of saliva.” Foreign investors took the bait. Mexico is a potential manufacturing powerhouse. Alas, the proverbial man on the street has been looking everywhere, trying to identify improvements in ordinary living. What he sees is fuzzy. read more

Travelers ignore warnings, Mexico wins Marvin West

It works! Advertising actually works. Mexico’s tourism board kept pouring millions of pesos into splashy ad campaigns featuring white sandy beaches, turquoise blue waters, Maya ruins, fresh fruit and genuine hospitality. Americans, Canadians, Europeans and several from the Orient ignored dire warnings, bought the sales talk and came to see for themselves. read more

Ask an old gringo about knife sharpening, a new college, Trump and things to like about Mexico Marvin West

afilador de cuchillo
There is a better way to sharpen your knife. Education can be expensive - for investors. The USA Presidential nomination process crosses the border - Not. How to gain wealth without working too hard. 'Tis the season to be juicy - Mangos and all the local drippings about a new hospital. read more

One more win Marvin West

Victor Espinoza, 43, calls himself the luckiest Mexican alive. He was the jockey aboard American Pharoah, winner of the U.S. triple crown of horse racing – the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. His name will be forever etched in sporting history. Fame and fortune are likely partners for the rest of his life. Only 11 riders have accomplished this rare feat. The last time it happened was 1978. read more

Mexico finds new gold - with 4 wheels Marvin West

Mexico is now the North American leader in car assembly and export. The Mexico auto industry is booming, a stunning development of world significance. Assembly plants that popped up all around are now expanding. Nearby are convenient parts suppliers, tool shops and even tire manufacturers... read more

Jocotepec blessed with one sharp historian Marvin West

Marsha kept her own horse, Marie-Elena, in the village. On this overcast day in summer 1966, she rode for miles along the shore. She bred Marie-Elena with a stallion from Jocotepec.
 
 
Photo in family collection of Marsha Sorensen; all rights reserved.
 
Aida exudes authenticity. She actually lives in Jocotepec. She was born there, last in a sizable flock of 13 children. Her father's family goes back to before the Spanish came calling. Her grandfather was shot during the Revolution. That is historic! read more

Mexico good news, Gloria Trevi, protests, soup in a gourd Marvin West

A fountain on a Mexican street honors Our Lady of Dolores on the Friday preceding Palm Sunday
© Edythe Anstey Hanen, 2014

Mexconnect readers, a priceless lot, ask occasional questions via e-mail. They receive sincere efforts at answers.

Some exchanges have the potential to interest others. You'll know shortly whether they interest you...

read more

Mexico beauty and genius Marvin West

It has been said that beauty is where you see it and genius is all around, waiting to be identified. Beauty — Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre is an adobe house and little wildlife refuge on the ban... read more

City of Ideas keeps overlooking me Marvin West

View of the Cathedral in the city of Puebla
© Rick Meyer, 1996

Great intellectuals of the world have been talking for seven years about making things better. You can see how that has turned out.

They assemble each November in Mexico, in Pubela, to empower a large paying audience and others with innovative ideas in science, technology, art, design, politics, education, culture, business, entertainment and other areas of very important knowledge.

The City of Ideas, a three-day session, has brought in more than 200 speakers. For some strange reason, I have not been invited...

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Life on the road Mexico style Marvin West

Laredo International Bridge
Snowbirds are landing in our exciting little corner of Mexico. Merchants say none too soon. We, the Wests, enjoy Christmas at Thanksgiving with our extended family in Tennessee. When the last guest goes home, we follow them out the door, in the general direction of Jocotepec, at the west end (naturally) of Lake Chapala... read more

Cheers for Mexico seat belts Marvin West

Road signs in Mexico.
© Bill Begalke, 2000
I am an advocate of slowing to almost a stop when speed bumps appear high enough to scar mufflers and rattle dental repairs. I believe in seat belts. At my age, I need all the stability I can get.

I always wear my seat belt when zipping around and about Mexico in our 1998 Volkswagen bug, purchased new when we got serious about going international. My safety routine is to buckle up before starting the engine. On one particular day... read more

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...

read more

Come on down to Cabo San Lucas Marvin West

Los Arcos in Baja California
© Dr. Ilya Treyger
Cabo San Lucas, at the south end of Baja California Sur, can stand alone, a sparkling seaside gem.

The convergence of the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific makes it special. The thought that pirates once used it as a haven adds drama. Yachts anchored in the bay say "this is the place," a thousand miles from U.S. border strife.

There is a full-grown marina, a shopping center, high-rise hotels, fancy boutiques, expensive restaurants and clubs... read more

Mexico travels: Return to Torreon Marvin West

Monumental statue of Cristo de las Noas near Torreon, Mexico
© Jarekt, 2008
Once, on our way from El Paso to Guadalajara, we paused in Torreon, a city of half a million or more in the state of Coahuila, 275 miles down good roads from the Texas border, out in the middle of the north country as the crow might fly from Monterrey to Los Mochis.

Our primary aim was to see the very large sculpture of Jesus Christ, 70 feet tall, arms outstretched as if blessing or protecting saints and sinners alike.

We knew El Cristo was high on a hill but we were surprised by the religious business development around him, a replica of the Holy Land, a restaurant with a view, a souvenir sales center... read more

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

Amazing medical mission to Mexico Reviewed by Marvin West

Mr. Alexander Dumas

Stan Brock, an unusual Englishman made semi-famous by his role in the TV series Wild Kingdom, had founded something called Remote Area Medical and was soliciting volunteers for a three-week mission to one of the Tuxpans somewhere in the mountains of Mexico.

He described the poverty, misery and misfortune that plagued the small village. He talked of deadly disease and infant mortality. His plea for the primitive Indians, the Huichols, may have actually triggered a few tears among the tough military trainees...

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