Friday, June 30, 2006

The Universe That Is Mexico

Title: El Universal
Type of Website: online newspaper
Great source of...: News about Mexico... in English!

Real Mexico-philes know all about this website, of course. But I would be remiss if I didn't mention it. I envision that this little blog will someday be a great resource for people moving to Mexico or just interested in Mexico. And so leaving out El Universal would be akin to forgetting to mention the Virgen of Guadalupe or something (OK, maybe not that bad... )

According to their website, this newspaper, which is better known as in its paper, you-can-spill-coffee-on-it version, has been headed up by the same man, Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz since 1969. The little blurb about that (in Spanish) talks about "la constante lucha por la dignificacion en la relacion entre prensa y gobierno"... the constant fight for dignity in the relationship between the press and government. Hear hear!

But the English part of this newspaper is actually the Mexico edition of the Miami Herald and is called "Mexico News" in the site map. The main newspaper is a Mexican newspaper in Spanish (El Gran Diario de Mexico, no less!). So its really a great website for those of us trying to learn Spanish. We can start off reading the Spanish stories as best we can, and then turn to the ones in English after our brains are weary from the tiresome task of translation.

So, what can you learn on El Universal? Tonite I learned that four players from the Mexican World Cup soccer team were in the running for the "team of the stars" to be announced next Friday, that Cancun is now targeting upscale travelers and that the Mexican Federal Electoral Institute is warning ahead of time that there will be no technical or legal reason to challenge the validity of the results of the presidential election. A cursory glance at the headlines shows that the elections are very much on everyone's minds. I also learned that the institute, called the IFE, expects to call the results at 11 pm on Sunday night.

As Sunday comes around, you can believe I'll be checking in to because I won't want to be waiting for my brain to be doing those slow translations.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Title: Viva Veracruz
Type of website: Blog
Excellent source of...: Insight into the life and thoughts of someone preparing to move from Colorado to Veracruz Mexico.

There are many well-kept secrets about Mexico. The beauty and incredibly rich liveability of Veracruz has got to be one of them. John Calypso (can that be his real name? How romantic... ) certainly agrees with that observation.

Last summer, we spent three weeks on a roadtrip that took us to the city of Veracruz and then up into the mountains to Xalapa. We found it to be one of the most pleasant cities on our whole trip. Cool and sunny climate, lovely downtown and one of the most beautiful museums we've ever seen. From there, we traveled up higher into the mountains, ate lunch at a roadside cafe and had a lovely day we've been talking about ever since. We can see why John likes it so much.

But the man with the lyrical name doesn't just talk about Veracruz. He talks about politics (even Mexican politics! Que horror!) and his family and philosophy and really, whatever he feels like talking about. He and his wife apparently spend half the year in Colorado and half the year in Mexico. And they are working on closing down their life in Colorado in order to move completely to Mexico. He has written a lot lately about what it feels like to do that. What he's going through, what he's thinking. He writes about being a parent to a young man who has just moved to Los Angeles. In short, he's a typical aging baby boomer... but he's ahead of the curve, because he has already begun *his* move to Mexico. Some of us believe he (and we) are just the crest of the wave.

John Calypso appears to be a thoughtful man with time to express and share his thoughts. For anyone considering moving to Mexico, there is a lot of good information scattered among those thoughts and the thoughts are pretty interesting too.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

El Antiquario

Title: El Antiquario
Type of website: Website
Excellent source of...: information about Mexican history disguised as promotion for a magazine dedicated to the Art, Folk Art and Antiques of Mexico.

Oooh, this website is delicious! It's not well designed and it isn't even well maintained. But it has some tantalizing information for anyone interested in Mexico's fascinating past.

There seem to be these sections: Folk Art, Antiques, Art and Travel. There is a way to Subscribe to the magazine. There is a Bulletin Board with classified ads about art for sale and art being sought. And of course, the usual Contact and Links pages. There is also a listing of the articles in each volume of the magazine. I see no indication about how often the magazine comes out.

The tantalizing part, of course, are the sample articles that are reprinted on the website. One of my favorites (so far...) is the one about "Mr. Acapulco", a musician who traveled Europe in the 30's recording Big Band music and then settled in Acapulco in 1943, helping put that resort community on the global map. "Mr. Acapulco" established the first nightclub in Mexico City "that you could take your wife to" and the first swimming pool in Acapulco. He organized the famous Acapulco cliff divers to do shows at night, he dated movie stars and entertained presidents. He even married Hedy Lamarr (briefly)! It's a fascinating interview, and just one of many magazine excerpts on the website.

As I mentioned, the website isn't particularly well designed. And the listings for art and folk art are very heavily weighted towards the Jalisco area, since that is where the magazine is published. Ni modo, as we say here. It doesn't matter. It's still a website with a lot of great information for those of us who love Mexico.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Living AND working in the Yucatan

Title: Yucatan Living
Type of website: Blog
Excellent source of...: Insight into the lifestyle and experiences of two "gringos" living and working for a living in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico.

OK, so the other day it occurred to me that I've never actually reviewed my own website! Silly me.

My husband (Working Gringo) and I (Working Gringa) have been working as website designers/photographers in Merida, Yucatan for the last four years. We do a lot of local tourism-industry websites (B&B's, hotels, etc.). Unlike a lot of people, we are neither students, nor independently wealthy nor retired. So we have to work for a living.

On Yucatan Living, we write about our daily experiences, share what we've learned and try to have some fun with it in the process. We've lived in the Yucatan for over four years now, and living here has changed our lives completely. You can read about that in the websites Interview section, where there are other interviews with local expats. There is a Music section (linked at the top of the pages) where you can hear local Yucatecan Trova Music. And there's a Photo Gallery too, with some of our best photos from our lives around here. There are other sections, like too, like Art, News, Destinations or my favorite, Survivor, which is about what it takes to make it here.

Yucatan doesn't see itself as part of Mexico. It has always been a place apart. Some have said that Merida is like Mexico was forty years ago. And we could argue that Playa del Carmen is the future of Mexico, arguably the fastest growing city in the Americas. If Mexico is a land of contrast, nowhere does that seem more true than here, where the Mayan campesino can be found eating at the same taco stand as the Cancun millionaire. Our internet magazine, as we like to call it, Yucatan Living, celebrates the Yucatan. We hope it gives you a taste of the Yucatan and that you enjoy it as much as we enjoy writing it.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Alisa in Mexico-land

Title: Through the Looking Glass
Type of website: Blog
Excellent source of...: Insight into life of an US expatriate married to a Mexican national and living in the suburbs of Mexico City.

This is what blogs were invented for. Alisa Cooper is recently married to a Mexican man and lives with him outside of Mexico City. She seems to have plenty of time to enjoy her life there and lets us share in the pleasure by writing copiously about it. Not only is she incredibly observant but she has the fortunate position of being married to a Mexican who appears to have an established career, family and circle of friends. Her powers of observation and her penchant for writing provide her readers with birds eye view of her rich and varied experiences in her new life with her husband.

One minute, Alisa will be talking about the World Cup and comparing it to the upcoming Mexican presidential elections. The next minute she will be extolling the virtues of paint and colors. And even though we live in different parts of Mexico (when she's enjoying freshly picked apples, we're feasting on freshly picked mangoes), so many things are similar. One of her entries about the difficulty in paying the monthly phone, water and electric bills on time because the postman can't seem to distinguish between their #73 house and the #73 house three doors down on the same street made me chuckle. Que tipico!

Though Alisa has only been blogging since January 2006, she is incredibly prolific and I haven't even begun to make a dent. I've read enough to know that there is treasure there, though, so I encourage you to dig in and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

2035 Miles from Where?

Title: 2035 Miles
Type of website: Blog
Excellent source of...: Insight into life of an US expatriate (and his wife) in Guadalajara.

Noah, the writer of this blog, writes about his life, which happens to be going on in Guadalajara, Mexico at the moment. So while the blog also includes commentary on Steve Jobs' speech at MacWorld or Noah's review of the latest XBox game, Noah writes extensively about the day to day experience of living in Guadalajara. Recently he has been writing about the Presidential race, which is of course heating up before the election on July 2. But also there are just nice chatty posts about what is going on in his life, like trying to get an FM3 or seeing a fatal car accident on a street corner.

One of the coolest things about this blog is a linked website that he and his wife created about their house. It looks like a little website for a lovely bed and breakfast, but its just all about their house for the people who might like to come visit them, including a schedule of who is coming when so that friends can stagger their visits. I don't know... something about it is just really lovely. Its so well done... a little web labor of love.

Noah's a good photographer too, so don't miss the link to his photos. In addition to some lovely photos of the area around Guadalajara, there are photos from an extensive trip that he and his wife made through Latin America last year.

Another curious gringo reporting on life as an expat in Mexico. As a fellow expat living here, I'm loving following all these different families and their experiences. But what I want to know here is: Where is Guadalajara 2035 miles from???