Thursday, December 23, 2010

8.2 Million Tourists’ Heads Still Attached After Visiting Mexico

Tim Leffel, an American travel writer who is living in Guanajuato for a year, posted a very funny video link about safety in Mexico. Worth a look:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


The website has published another of my pieces, this one about a recent trip to Cairo.

Click here to read it.

You can also read more about our trip to Cairo on my other blog: click here.

Friday, October 22, 2010


A woman to the rescue! Marisol Valles Garcia has taken over as chief of police in Praxedis G. Guerrero, a drug-ridden border town in the state of Chihuahua. The last chief of police was gunned down in 2009. What's even more surprising is her age--20 years old! Viva Mexico!

Read more:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Many people think of heading to Oaxaca or Pàtzcuaro to experience 'real' Day of the Dead in Mexico. But el DF offers its own brand of larger-than-death altars throughout the city. I wrote about it in my very first article for The News here, and most of the information there still holds true.

But my friend Ruth Alegria--who gives food tours of Mexico City--has done her research this year, and you can find it all on her blog:

If you want to know more about Day of the Dead in Mexico, check this out:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


One of my readers sent me this article by veteran journalist Linda Ellerbee--worth reading!

Friday, October 1, 2010


And it's not about the drug wars!

The New York Times tells us what's cool in Mexico City--

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


As Mexico celebrates 200 years of independence from Spain, the Paseo de la Reforma and the Zócalo will be filled with parades, music, speeches, and displays of military prowess. But as reported in the New York Times this week, an undercurrent of sadness, disappointment and anger throughout the country is making it a challenge to get into a party mood. Clobbered by the swine flu scare last year, a demoralized Mexico faced a year of non-stop bad news about the war against drug trafficking. Images of Mexican beauty Jimena Navarrete, the new Miss Universe, have not been enough to offset the endless newspaper photos of decapitated corpses. And several of the big projects intended to celebrate the event--like the bicentennial tower and the renovation of the Palacio de Bellas Artes--are incomplete, offering a truly dreary metaphor for the state of the nation.
I admit to feeling a lack of celebratory fervor myself. It seems obscene to spend millions of pesos on fireworks when there are so many people without running water, basic health care and viable schools. But it also seems wrong not to celebrate. So I've been trying to take a longer view of things. I prefer to use the Aztec date of 1325 as the real starting point of history here in Mexico City, so the drug wars, the battle between church and state over the new gay marriage law, the economic crisis all seem like small blips on a big radar screen.
A sense of something ancient, with roots deep in the earth, below where earthquakes can damage it, seems to hold this country together. Subliminal reverence for the pagan gods--Huitzilopochtli, Tlaloc, Quetzalcoatl--adds its tint to the worship of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
And it seems to me that the deities have responded, endowing the Mexican people with a remarkable capacity for endurance and an ability to prioritize the finer things in life (family, food, fiestas). Unfortunately there appears to be no god or goddess of politics, so we struggle on.
I've been in Mexico now for more than 13 years, have been granted the privilege of Mexican citizenship, and can think of no place else I'd prefer to live. So in spite of any reservations I have, I'll be out there with the crowd, joining in the grito: Viva Mexico!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I don't usually blog about food--I leave that to Nick. But occasionally something comes up that needs to be announced. For many living in Mexico City, the lack of good ethnic food (especially Asian) is a problem. I've never found a good Indian restaurant here--until now. You can read the full review on Nick's blog. I admit, my writing about this has purely selfish motives--I want the restaurant to succeed so I can keep eating there. Check it out. Buen provecho!

Nick's blog--

Restaurante Taj Mahal
Francisco Marquez 134
(between Pachuca & Tula, 1 ½ blocks from Mazatlán, Colonia Condesa)
Tel. 5211 8260
Open Daily for lunch and dinner

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I've blogged about this before, but it seems to be a topic on everyone's mind--at least everyone
who is reading the newpapers and thinking it reflects accurately the state of things here in Mexico City.
I wanted to share this article from The Economist on safety in Mexico, which puts things in perspective. From my point of view as a resident, fear is not not part of my daily life, and as a tourist it is highly unlikely to be part of yours.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


If you've gotten through life without discovering Olga Guillot, her obituary in The New York Times will acquaint you with the basic facts of this beloved singer's life. Although born in Cuba, her career was made in Mexico; she's known all over Latin America as the 'Queen of the Bolero.' Her husky, emotion-laden voice has been recorded endlessly, and she appeared in many movies during the 1950's and 60's. You can find her music in any market throughout the country or on

The Youtube video below gives you the visceral information. Here she is, in 1968.

Another Youtube video gives a little of her history.

Monday, June 28, 2010


(map of Mexico by Miguel Covarrubias at the Museo de Arte Popular)

Recently fellow Mexico blogger Paul Roberts wrote about the internet phenomenon of lists. From ‘10 Ways to Keep Your Marriage Alive’, ‘5 Painless Tips for Losing Weight’, and ‘1000 Things You Must See Before You Die’, lists are everywhere. It turns out that in our age of sound bites and news clips, listing information leads to larger readership. Inspired by his lead, I decided to give it a try.

Each time I return from travelling, I feel renewed appreciation for being able to live in Mexico City. So herewith are my “EIGHT AND A HALF REASONS WHY I LOVE LIVING IN MEXICO CITY”.

  1. I can get freshly squeezed orange juice a block away for $2 a liter.
  2. People say ‘buen provecho’ to strangers in restaurants.
  3. There’s a statue of the rain god Tlaloc in Chapultepec Park.
  4. The metro costs 3 pesos.
  5. The Jamaica flower market
  6. People still cook with handmade pottery.
  7. Birds sing outside my bedroom window
  8. The Pasteleria Ideal

8.5 You can buy half a cauliflower in the market (or a single stalk of celery, a sprig of parsely, one egg)

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Now that Mexico City has its own Gay Marriage Law, there's even more reason to be proud. On Saturday, June 26, the annual gay pride march will be held. For all the details about check out
what our friends at MachaMexico blog have to say--that's where I got the news. As far as I know, this is the only lesbian-oriented blog in English about Mexico City--good for them!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


From a recent bloggers' conference in Mexico City comes this fascinating story about a 'sewer diver'--who knew?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Take a look at my other blog to see my latest post about

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


At a recent conference, Mexico City's mayor Marcelo Ebrard proposed a campaign to change some of the nasty habits that have become a way of life here. The goal is to 'improve the quality of life and the level of security' by raising the conciousness of citizens in simple ways.  Here's his list:

1.  Don't throw chewing gum on the street
2.  Conserve water
3.  Clean up after your dog
4.  Take care of public spaces
5.  Don't throw garbage on the street
6. Use your seatbelt
7.  Don't drink and drive
8.  Don't park in spots marked for the handicapped
9.  Respect transit rules
10.  No graffiti

Sounds like civilization to me. I'd add 'no talking on cell phones in movie theaters'.
His idea is to take one theme per month and promote it in schools and other public places.
I'll be on the lookout for changes. 

Monday, May 24, 2010


It's been a slow start, but I've just put two posts on my other travel blog, with photos of my most recent trip (Athens, Cairo, Barcelona & Paris) and an article about a previous trip to Rangoon, Burma (or Yangon, Myanmar for the politically correct).

Click the link below to take a look:

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Perhaps inspired by my mother's joining the Peace Corps, my younger sister Kathryn, a lawyer in Florida, has become involved with a group of doctors working in Haiti.  She has visited the island several times since the earthquake.  Listen to what she has to say on CNN:


Saturday, May 15, 2010


Some new directions have distracted me from blogging for almost two months.  First, I returned to my previous career and started to paint again.  Then I left on a five-week voyage stopping at Athens, Cairo, Barcelona and Paris (I'll be writing about that soon on  I just got home a few days ago.

As a warm-up to blogging, here are a few notes on cultural events in Mexico City.

Although Bellas Artes continues to be 'closed for renovation', the National Opera Company will present Bizet's 'Carmen' at the Teatro de la Ciudad for several performances starting tomorrow.  Click this link to ticketmaster for information.

Opera fans should also check out this link for tickets to the Metropolitan Opera live broadcasts starting in October.  They will be shown at the Auditorio Nacional which boasts the biggest movie screen in Latin America--bigger than the stage at the Met.  Don't buy the most expensive seats down below--you'll be craning to look up at the screen and the leg room is for midgets only.  Upstairs seats have better views, but the seats are harder (bring a pillow).

For anyone interested in receiving email updates about current museum shows, theatre, music and dance events, click the following link to subscribe (it's free):

Saturday, March 20, 2010


This post is for Maria, and anyone else who writes to me with questions from this blog.  If you just hit the 'reply' button I will receive your email but with a 'no-reply' address.  If you want a specific reply to a question, please write me directly at my email address:

Saturday, March 6, 2010


The travel website  has just published another of my stories, this time about a recent visit with my mother in Morocco,
where she's working as a Peace Corps volunteer.

Click HERE to read the story (the link does not work from your email--you must go to my blog first).

If you're interested in following more of Mom's adventures, check out her blog at

Friday, March 5, 2010


I returned yesterday from a week in New York City.  I needed a bite of the Big Apple--museums, theater, opera, Chinese food.  I got all that and a snowstorm, too--something I've been missing for years.

March 3 was the 13th anniversary of my move to Mexico, and after thirteen years, I finally feel like a tourist in my old home town.  New York has changed, I've changed, and now Mexico City is home.  Since I'd lived in New York for almost 30 years before moving to Mexico, the place is familiar, but the gap between my experiences in the two cities has widened.  Now it's wide enough so that I really feel like a visitor from abroad--and frankly it's a lot more fun.  What doesn't change is that New York is where my oldest friends live, and no matter how long I live in Mexico I will never have 'old friends' here.  So, if home is where the heart is, I still live in two places.

When I got back to el DF winter was over.  I was glad to return to the land of color (it seems that black is still the official color of New York).  It was 80 degrees, the sun was shining with a clear, golden light, and the first blue-violet jacaranda blossoms were out, along with the screaming scarlet of the colorìn flowers.  I strolled across the park for a couple of tacos at my favorite stand.  Not a bad place to live, I thought to myself.

But things have changed in a week, aside from the weather.  A new restaurant opened on my corner, the city is suddenly filled with bicycles that you can 'borrow' and ride from place to place (see this website to learn about the project), and the first marriage licences were issued to gay couples on March 4.  But it all moves at a more leisurely pace than in New York, and there's less tension in the air.  It may take me a few days to slow down, but it's great to be home.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


The annual Festival de la Ciudad de México will take place this year from March 11 to 28.  More than 280 activities will take place in over 90 locations around the city, involving over 500 participants from 21 countries.

March is a great time to visit Mexico City, as the jacarandas are in bloom and the weather is usually close to perfect.  See my previous article about jacaranda season by clicking here.

For a complete schedule of events, visit the website

Tuesday, February 9, 2010



A buddhist monk meets with his followers to announce that he has decided it is time to build a new, bigger temple.

"But master, our bank account is empty.  Where will the money come from?" someone asks.

Looking around calmly, the monk answers slowly, "From wherever it is now."


According to a recent editorial by Bob Herbert in the New York Times, money these days is heading into the pockets and bank accounts of the rich, as unemployment rates for the lowest economic levels of society skyrocket.

I've hear many conversations where Mexico is described as a poor country, but I think of it as a rich country whose wealth is poorly distributed, badly managed, or simply carted off by those with power to do so.  Sound familiar?

Mexico is famous for its corrupt politicians, who often leave office far wealthier than when they began.  When I read about the enormous bonuses paid to corporate executives in the U.S. I wonder how different things are? Although it shines with a veneer of 'legality', the end result is not unlike what happens here in Mexico:  the money moves up the economic scale. The same thought can be applied to the mortgage crisis and bank bailouts--all legal, but once again, the money gets funnelled into the same fast-flowing stream. 

Around 40 per cent of Mexico's population lives under the line of poverty, sharing just 11 per cent of the nation's wealth (some studies are even more pessimistic).  The minimum wage is around 54 pesos a day (equivalent to $4.30 U.S.).  For many, much of the misery fits into the category of 'out of sight, out of mind', but that may be not be possible much longer. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Monterrey is the most expensive place to live in Mexico, according to a recent survey of 42 cities.

The survey compared the cost of 122 products and services, such as housing, health care, education, clothing, appliances, transportation, food and entertainment.

Mexico City is used as the base line with a ranking of 100%.  Comparatively, Monterrey stands at 103.9%, Los Cabos 103%, Cancún 101.1%.

On the lower end, Tijuana tallies 89.2%, Guadaljara 86.6%, Chetumal 69.9%, Pachuca 69.6%, Durango 69.3%, Tlaxcala 64.4%, and Tepic 69.2%.

The high cost of electricity accounts for Monterrey's position in first place.  Across the board, the area of greatest cost increase last year was food, which went up 10.47%.

For the complete article (in Spanish) click here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


As I mentioned in my last post, I've been working on a new blog as a place to publish any of my writings not related to Mexico City. At this point it's sort of a notebook of past travels, with some (hopefully) helpful tips for anyone interested in these places.
(The "we" in this blog will refer to my partner Nick Gilman unless otherwise stated.)
I welcome your comments and suggestions.

Click the link below to read the blog:


Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I like to start the year with something that feels like ritual. It involves listening to music that makes me happy (this year it's Mahler's 8th, Aretha Franklin, Elliot Carter, and Yvonne Printemps). Cleaning is important, too--the on-your-hands-and-knees kind of cleaning--as is re-arranging furniture (the desk must be in a new location). And then sitting back, taking stock of the year now gone and planning for the next.

Mexico's year in the news was not a good one. Drug wars, swine flu, diminishing water supplies were favorite topics of interest. As the country plans it's bicentennial in 2010, poverty levels remain high, and more financial pain is expected in the next year, mostly falling on the lower classes--nothing new.

In spite of the bad news, or maybe because of it, Mexico continues to be the land of the big fiesta. To counteract the bad press Mexico City put on the happyface with the world's largest ice rink, the tallest Christmas tree, and a record making assembly of people dancing to Michael Jackson's 'Thriller'. The number of fresh flowers planted in city parks and camellones was almost obscene this year, considering there are people here who don't have running water. Oh, but it did look lovely for a while.

Better news about Mexico City came in the form of new legislation in 2009. The recent gay marriage bill goes beyond  2008's domestic partnership, and laws against hate crimes, decriminalizing the use of small amounts of certain drugs, and a prohibition against plastic bags place the city in the forefront of liberal social and environmental reform. This place never ceases to surprise me.

2010 will surely be a tough year for many in Mexico. Just as surely, it's bound to be a year full of celebration and festivity (the tourist bureau expects 14 million visitors to Mexico City this year).
So I hope to have lots of material to continue my advocacy of this city as a great place to live and to visit.

I'll be launching a new blog for 2010 for my writing that is not about Mexico City--more news on that will follow soon.

Thanks to all my readers who've written over the year. Your support inspires me.With wishes to you all for health and happiness in 2010, I'll sign off with a quote from the intrepid English explorer and writer, Freya Stark, whose words on the topic of death offer a great perspective on life.

At 93, as she was planning a trip to Spain, Stark was asked about death. She replied, "I feel about it as about the first ball, or the first meet of hounds, anxious as to whether one will get it right, and timid and inexperienced -- all the feelings of youth."