Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Violence in Mexico

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
After spending a month in the heart of Mexico, in the state of Jalisco, in 2010, and a week in San Miguel de Allende, in the state of Guanajuato, in October, 2015, and after talking to dozens of expatriates from the United States, Canada, and Europe, I feel confident that the information I'm about to impart is reliable and unbiased.
A typical street in this UNESCO World Heritage City.
The answer to the question about violence is documented in an incident I managed to videotape in 2010, which is still relevant today. This tape briefly but accurately depicts the violence most expats will experience directly or indirectly in Mexico. Please take a moment now to click on the link and see the mayhem for yourself.

Art Abounds in San Miguel

Walkway in Toller Cranston's Complex
Nancy, Bevyn, and I struggled to define exactly what makes San Miguel de Allende, a colonial town in Mexico, so magical. 

Culinary Delights in San Miguel de Allende

This is the first place I ever stayed in Mexico almost twenty years ago.  I'm delighted it's still where I left it! The hotel rooms surround the delightful central dining courtyard. 
American restaurants try. Entrepreneurs spend thousands on decor intended to foster a pleasant ambience and hearty appetites. Some places even attempt to emulate European sidewalk cafes although that usually results in a few tables placed on the city sidewalk with a view of passing traffic and the scent of gas fumes. In Mexico, though, you'd be hard-pressed to find a restaurant that was not unique, beautiful and charming serving delicious food at prices so inexpensive you are tempted to frame the check.
95 pesos is 5.71 US

Equality in Mexico?

People are often confused by Mexicans' seemingly playful attitude towards death, but la Catrina, a sexy skeleton often cast in provocative poses, was originally intended as a political statement.  The curator of San Francisco's Mexican Museum, David de la Torre, says, "Catrina has come to symbolize not only El Día de los Muertos [Day of the Dead] and the Mexican willingness to laugh at death itself, but originally catrina was an elegant or well-dressed woman, so it refers to rich people. Death brings this neutralizing force; everyone is equal in the end. Sometimes people have to be reminded."

In a land where the wealthy are very rich indeed, the poor struggle to earn a few dollars a day, and the middle class is almost non-existent, it is crucial for everyone to remember that there are certain aspects of daily life that are the same for everyone. Death may be the major equalizer in Mexico, but it's not the only one.

Casas in San Miguel de Allende

Unlike American houses where "curb appeal" is a desirable attribute, Mexican houses are intentionally designed to have no curb appeal at all. It is only when you get beyond the nondescript exterior that you see the hidden treasures like the courtyard above.

There are a couple good reasons for this lack of public appeal.

The Heart of San Miguel de Allende

The jardin, or main plaza in San Miguel de Allende, is always humming with activity.  The Parroquia, modeled after European churches, is located on one side of the jardin while stores, restaurants, and civic buildings surround the other three sides.

You can sit in the shade of the laurel trees, which have been sculpted to provide shade rather than symmetry, and watch the

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Retirees Flocking to Mexico

Lake Chapala at Sunset by Mike Cruze
Gwen Ifill, on the PBS news hour, reports on the huge number of people moving to Mexico. Retirees are flocking to the middle of the country that offers "Hawaii's attitude and Denver's latitude."

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Search ALL Vacation Rentals in One Go!

Partial view of the living room in our gorgeous rental (also a bedroom, kitchen, conservatory for dining, and bathroom) in Fussen, Germany, for roughly €99 a night.

Stephanie Rosenbloom, travel writer for The New York Times, wrote on February 10, about all the vacation rental sites available on the web.  She concluded the article by mentioning a new site called which serves the same purpose as hotel room listing programs; if you need an apartment, you can check all the vacation rentals at one site.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How to Find the Cheapest Hotel Rooms

The rooms at the Omni National Resort in Tucson are larger than most Paris apartments!  This room also has a king-size bed, a desk area, two vanities, separate tub and shower areas, a walk-in closet and a patio.
Seth Kugel, frugal travel writer for the New York Times, wrote a helpful article recently about a seven-step process to find the cheapest hotel room.  The piece is thorough and maximizes the use of multiple websites,, Hipmunk, and so on, to obtain the best possible price.  Still, I think he overlooked two sources that are extraordinarily helpful.

Monday, August 4, 2014

$70 Gelato?!

Trevi Fountain in Rome

Johnny Jet reports today on a NY Post article about an American couple who were charged almost $70 for two gelatos and a bottle of water.  Feeling ripped off, the couple called the police the next day to investigate the high price, but