Wednesday, August 30, 2006

International Blog Day

Just heard about this yesterday, but of course, it's right up the alley of Mexico-in-English!

So today I'm going to point you towards five English-language blogs from other countries where Spanish is the spoken language. There is so much going on in the Latin world, sometimes it seems a shame to just focus on Mexico (it's a passing regret... it doesn't last long). But today's the day to expand and explore beyond the boundaries of our beloved (and adopted, in my case) patria!

First, from Buenos Aires, a blog called Goodairs. This is an exceedingly hip blog from a city of similar hipness. Written by two freelance writers, the blog is well-written and full of links and references. You can easily waste (did I say that?)... I mean, *spend* an hour or two flitting through their posts and following the links where they lead. Fascinating, scintillating, award-winning... definitely worth a look.

Second, Latino Pundit. Here's a blog written by someone watching and reporting on how the media reports on Latino issues. Rather than being about a country that speaks Spanish, I think of this blog as being about the "country-within-a-country" of all the Spanish-speaking and Spanish-identified Latinos within the US. It's a good blog to check in with now and then.

Here's a tasty blog from Panama: Cooking Diva. This woman, Melissa de Leon, is originally from Panama. She is full of goodness! Her blog is chock full of recipes, reports of events in Panama and even videos! Just writing her blog seems to me like it would be a full-time job, but on top of that she offers a Pre-prepared Dinners of the Week program in Panama, a Corporate Culinary team building program, gives cooking classes and does food product development. I'm impressed. Again, her blog presents a maze of information that any foodie will enjoying getting lost in.

Tim's El Salvador Blog was originally started to inform fellow churches about the mission in El Salvador that they are sponsoring. But it's really not about that. It's about El Salvador, the politics and goings on there. He's been blogging since 2004, so it's a nice deep blog if you are interested in this beautiful little country.

And last, but most certainly not least, Beautiful Horizons. This blog is written by a New Yorker in love with his Brazilian wife. As such, he has traveled to many parts of Latin America and he carefully watches the media for Latin American issues. This blog is his personal take on all of it, and so, while it may not be professionally journalistic, who cares? Its personal, passionate, interesting and informative. It includes photos from different places that he has visited (the photo at the beginning of this post is from this blog and was taken in Rio de Janeiro). Another great blog to spend an evening with, and to check in with again and again in the future.

I hope you enjoy these blogs as much as I've enjoyed discovering them!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Building and Living on Cozumel

Here is a very personal blog written by an English woman who has recently bought a house in Cozumel. I can't quite figure out if she has moved to Cozumel permanently... No, I don't think so. But she seems to be staying through the summer to supervise some renovations on her home... and well, we'll follow her progress and see what happens, shall we?

I like this blog for a few reasons. One, I'm interested in what it is like to live in different parts of Mexico. And Cozumel is a unique location. It's an island, for one thing. It just went through a devastating hurricane season last year, so I'm interested to see how things are going. Secondly, the writers style is very easy to read, fun and includes little asides and wanderings that make it more than just another building-in-Mexico blog. Thirdly, so far, it has been about the experience of building in Mexico. And though there seems to be more and more of that on the web these days, that is because there are more and more people doing it. And it is of interest to many of us to learn how things are done.

For instance, I learned from this blog that there is a national "abalnile" day... May 3, i think it is. How cool! I'm glad I know that. Hopefully, we won't still be building our house by that day next year, but if we are, I'll know to expect the workers to take a little holiday. Or at least to expect lunch from us :-)

The author seems to be having a good experience with her building project, enjoying the process of learning how things are done and getting to know the workers. As we too have found, the people working on a project are often so cheerful and enjoyable to work with that it makes the whole experience that much nicer.

And one more thing... the photos of Cozumel at the top of the page (the author is using the same layout that Yucatan Living and Hopalog are using) are really very nice! I look forward to reading more...

(Editors Note: This blog seems to have disappeared shortly after I reviewed it. I've looked for it again, but no luck. If anyone knows it's whereabouts, please tell me!)

Friday, August 04, 2006

Mexican Laws... in English!

I remember a few months ago, talking to an accountant in Texas who told me that his office keeps up on Mexican tax law. "How do you do that?", I asked. "Do you read Spanish that well?" "No...", he answered, "They are all available in English.

I was floored. Really! I guess if you think about it, the tax laws in the US are probably available in Spanish...or are they? I'd love to know. In the meantime, there are a lot more than tax laws available in English, and this website that I found recently can get you a lot closer to whatever you need to know regarding the law in Mexico.

The website is run by a company based in Tijuana and San Diego. Even if you don't become a member and sign up for their services (translations, document preparation, newsletter), a perusal of the website is bound to teach you something you didn't know.

For instance, the latest newsletter is all about Mexican immigration law. Apparently, the author has been getting lots of inquiries about Mexican immigration law, mostly from people trying to prove how Mexican law is worse than US law on the subject of immigration. The newsletter goes on to explain, in plain English, how Mexican immigration law works and what it is based on. Fascinating.

On the first page, the interested reader can also find a list of the various categories of Mexican law, designated by the governmental authority that oversees those laws. If you are an expatriate resident of Mexico and ever wondered what PROFECO does, or SEGOB or SRE, then you'll find some answers here. (Go ahead, go look it up!)

I don't know if this is a comprehensive list or not, but it's certainly a helpful beginning. And if it's not enough, go to the bottom of the page and click on Comments to send in your question or comment. A cute feature of the site: Right above the comment section in small print is this line: (Please don't ask: the drinking age is 18 in all of Mexico).

I wonder how many requests the author got before he decided to put that up there.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

MATT revisited

I don't know if any of you put yourselves on the MATT mailing list, but I did. And I regularly get emails from them with new stories. This week, the story that caught my eye was "American Perspective: Breaking out of the Expat Shell". It's a short story about a "trailing expat", a woman who's husband was transferred to work in Mexico City. After spending three months inside, afraid to go out because "people" said she needed a bodyguard and that it was dangerous, she finally decided she had to get out more. And now, predictably, she loves Mexico and Mexico City. And she said two things at the end of the article that really resonated with me:

1 - Mexican culture is so much less about consumerism than the US and so much more about spending time with family and friends.

2 - She still feels like an immigrant in Mexico... but now she feels like one when she goes back to the US too!

Next month, they are planning to focus on "The other immigration: Americans living in Mexico. How the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have migrated to Mexico talk about their experience adapting, living and growing in a new culture."

I tried participating in a discussion on this website after I first found it. I forget the subject matter... it was something about immigration. I entered an honest opinion about my observations of the economy here in Mexico and got such incredibly vitriolic responses. I answered them for awhile, keeping my cool and trying to have an honest and open discussion... but I gave up. The Americans who were responding to me were nasty and rude. So for now, is a place to watch for me, but not a place to participate.

One more thing about that I like. They have a People Finder service. Its easy and free to post a listing about someone you are looking for in Mexico or the US. Check it out here.