Flashback: Memories from the First Reviewer of The People's Guide to Mexico

Dane Pikkola:

Hello Carl and Lorena…I was just listening to your interview with Rick Steves, and really wanted to connect on the air. But, alas, I couldn’t get the number. In fact, the program was probably pre-recorded anyway. Just the same, here’s my story.

I was sitting at the bar in the Fairhaven Tavern in Bellingham, Wa. when you two came in with a stack of fresh off-the-press editions of your brand new travel guide. I happen to be on the staff of the Inside Passage at the time, and wanted to review it. I think you may even have given me a free copy. (Was I the very first reviewer?) Not sure on that point.

In any case, you also invited me down to your place in Stanwood for dinner…with world renown chef…Steve. I brought my young son with me, if I recall. But, what I do remember for sure was the moment I walked into your place, a parrot (Arturo?) headed for me and got tangled up in my long hair! (Still have hair; no longer long) I also remember the great ambience, and Steve’s great cooking!

I just want to say that I read, and re-read, your book so many times that it now has Scotch tape holding the spine together. It has many unexplained stains (some of which seem to be wine colored), and has been transported to every location I have lived since. One of the biggest reasons it became so bedraggled is because my young son insisted that I read him bedtime stories from the many you inserted in the midst of an otherwise informational chapter. I still think that was brilliant.

Just so you know, I have actually been to Mexico for one month. I did have a wonderful time, but I have also lived in Central America for a few years, and Africa as well. My point being…reading (breathing) PG set me on the right path for fully engaging in wherever I was. (there must be a motto in there somewhere) Even in quite dicey situations in apartheid South Africa, I was never afraid, and I was never in danger. (Smile, be cool.)

So, to wrap it up, I’m so delighted to know you are still out there, doing what you do so well.

My tattered old 1972 (fully autographed copy) will be passed on to my grandson, so that he will understand the correct way to live in other cultures. People’s Guide is far more than a guide book, but I’m sure you have heard that before. It was a fine interview, and it was great to just hear you voices again.
Ciao, Dane PDX

May 5, 2013

  • Lorena says:

    Dear Dane,

    Good to hear from you. I must admit that my memories get a bit vague when we get back to the really old, good old days. But I do remember walking into the Fairhaven Tavern with a stack of the first edition of the PG. And I definitely remember the very nice review that the Inside Passage (you ;-)) gave us. It sure could have been the first review. Do you by any chance still have a copy of it?

    The aggressive parrot would most likely have been Arturo. Farout was much calmer, relatively speaking.

    As for the bedtime stories, there is a new Steve story, by his daughter Churpa, in the latest, 14th edition,. I think it’s in the driving chapter. If you send us your address to, I’d like to send you a copy of the 14th edition.  In fact, Churpa is responsible for the latest revision of the People’s Guide, and is continuing Steve’s legacy of great cooking and adventuring in Mexico.

    Yes, the interview with Rick Steves was pre-recorded. So thanks so much for taking the time to write and share your memories.

    Que le vaya bien, Lorena & Carl