Popocatepetl–Smokin'

The volcano Popocatepetl in the state of Puebla

                                          I got up before dawn, as is my unfortunate habit—this time spurred on by typical rancho shenanigans. First a chorus of crowing roosters, which inspired a hundred dogs to begin barking, followed by a mysterious loudspeaker advertizing freshly killed chickens. As is often the case in the Mexican countryside, I couldn’t tell where any of this noise was coming […]

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Historical Photo of the Week: Jackie in Mexico City

Jackie Kennedy stands surrounded by dancers clad in white.

    Another photo from the Kennedy’s 1962 diplomatic visit to Mexico City. The president and first lady attended a performance at the ballet folklorico and joined Mexican president Lopez Mateos to greet the dancers after the performance. Interestingly, I’m finding a lot of photos (and one video) of this trip, but not much in the way of text. This photo credited to Cecil Stoughton, White House/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston  

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Cerveza Rising: Mexico's Craft Beer Revolution

A picture of a bottle of Hidalgo beer, from Mexico.

  When I was in my twenties, I considered Mexico to be beer heaven. At the time I was an avowed drinker of cheap light beer and Mexican beer was basically a better, slightly cheaper version of the beer I was drinking at home (Olympia and Rainier). Then I turned 30 and something terrible happened: I developed a taste for  craft beer. This was bad news on a number of levels. For one thing, it fit into a distinct and […]

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Best of Mexican and Central American Balnearios

Van camping.

  A popular institution in Mexico and Central America, balnearios, or thermal springs, range from undeveloped pools to fancy spa resorts to elaborate water parks that are packed with screaming kids on the weekends but make ideal camp spots during off hours. Many balnearios feature attached hotels, bungalows, or camp areas. Not all balnearios allow camping, but many will allow you to camp (for a fee) even if camping is not on their main menu. El Codo just sent me […]

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Historical Image of the Week: The Occupation of Mexico City

A battle in the war between Mexico and the US.

First published in 1850, this lithograph depicts the US Army occupying the zocalo in Mexico City’s Centro Historico. The image was originally published in The Mexican War and its warriors : comprising a complete history of all the operations of the American armies in the Mexico . . . illustrated with numerous engravings. Image courtesy of NYPL digital collections.

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Recommended Spanish Language Schools

Fenix Language Institute in Zacatecas was recently recommended to us as “awesome!” From the website: “Fenix Language Institute was founded in 1973 with a firm commitment to perfecting strategies for the teaching of Spanish as a second language. Until then, the traditional method had stressed grammar model imitation, mechanical repetition exercises, and rigorous memorization. The results were not impressive. The founders of Fenix rejected these ideas and searched for a better, more natural approach. As a child, you acquire your […]

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Cost of Living: Mexico City, SMA vs. New York

A San Miguel de Allende street scene.

At Moon.com, Julie Doherty Meade compares specific costs of living in New York, Mexico City, and San Miguel de Allende. Meade’s writing is engaging and this could be a useful resource if you are contemplating a move to Mexico. Meade rates Mexico City as slightly more expensive than SMA, which was surprising to me. I would have thought it would be the other way around, though I’ve never done a scientific comparison. I will say that her food estimates are […]

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Little Italy in Mexico?

Grilled chicken and fresh cheese from the state of Puebla.

“I smell fresh tortillas,” I said, with the feverish conviction of a bloodhound. Rich, Gina, and I were straggling down the edge of the highway, cooking in the sun and looking for a lunch spot to kill some time while the guy at the nearby taller changed Miss Lousiane’s oil. We approached a roadside restaurant, which was painted bright green and attended by a smiling proprietor of a very old-school breed: long braids, a crisp checked apron over her flowered […]

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And then the French invaded…(Happy Cinco de Mayo!)

  I laugh every time I think about the French invading Mexico. I know I shouldn’t—a lot of people died in the “intervention,” which began when Napoleon III used Mexico’s debt to France as a pretext for invasion. Napoleon III made the mistake of listening to conniving Mexican aristocrats who had insinuated themselves into the French court. The Mexicans in France wanted to see Benito Juarez’s democracy crushed and the return of their former power and property. To that end, […]

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