The People's Guide To Mexico

  Past Notebook

Carl's Notebook #3



Lorena and I have been travelling back-and-forth between our cabin in the Pacific Northwest and Mexico, so it's been difficult to update this website. Rather than bore you with the technical challenges we've finally overcome, let's dive right in and clear out some of the backlog from my overflowing notebooks and clippings, ¿qué no?

.... But first, a couple of important throughts: if all goes well, we'll now update these pages frequently, so bookmark us and check back often. Second, for those of you who might be new to this website, and unfamiliar with our "People's Guide" style of travel and writing, be warned that there is no particular order here. The material that follows is right off the top of my desk, out of my notebooks and sometimes off-the-wall. Lorena eventually reorganizes these entries and links them to the central People's Guide archives, located deep within an abandoned silver mine somewhere in the state of Chihuahua.


Carl Franz, from San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico

May, 1999

NEW! The Best of Mexico: San Carlos Bay, Sonora
Read our recent travel report of our drive from Washington State to San Carlos Bay, Sonora.

The People's Guide To Mexico 25th Anniversary edition wins a prize! Here's the text of an email from our publisher that has us celebrating:

"Dear Carl and Lorena:

We submitted The People's Guide to Mexico-25th Anniversary Edition to the Independent Publisher Book Awards (previously called the Small Press Book Awards) at the end of February. Today, we found out that your book is the winner of the travel category!!!!! The criteria were content, originality, design, and production quality.

The winners will be published in the May-June issue of Independent Publisher , and an awards special section will be in the June-July issue (with cover scans and reviews). This special section will be sent to libraries, bookstores, the Frankfurt book fair, and literary festivals.

I'll keep you posted if I find out anything new and exciting about the awards. Congratulations!!!


Anne Bingham, Sales and Marketing Assistant
John Muir Publications wins Mexico's coveted "Silver Lens" Award. Ron Mader and I recently traded congratulations over cups of strong coffee at Cafe La Habana in Mexico City. Ron had just received some well-deserved recognition for his website on Latin American eco-tourism from SECTUR (the Mexican Tourism Ministry), along with a silver trophy direct from the hands of President Ernesto Zedillo. Ron is also the author of Eco Travels in Latin America and many articles on Latin American environmental issues. Call out the mariachis!

Read reviews of
Read reviews of Eco Travels in Latin America
Go directly to

Vipassana in Mexico

A Vipassana meditation center will be built in Mexico. We are tremendously pleased that less than four years after the first ten day Vipassana course was held in Mexico, land has been donated near Valle de Bravo (state of Mexico) for a permanent meditation center. The center will be administered by a non-profit trust, and will offer ten day Vipassana courses in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin, as taught by S.N. Goenka and his authorized teachers. Like every center and Vipassana course in this tradition, Mexico's will be supported entirely by the donations and volunteer service of grateful old students.

Lorena and I have been practising Vipassana for about ten years now, and have attended courses in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and India. Many of our friends now practise Vipassana -- like them, we continue to marvel at the benefits of this powerful, non-sectarian technique. If you've been looking for a practical tool to improve your life, I describe Vipassana as the ideal "velvet monkey wrench".

In Mexico, Vipassana courses are currently being held in a beautiful Catholic monastery in Tepotzlan, a small colonial town about 90 minutes by bus from Mexico City. Courses have been heavily overbooked, so it is important that you apply as early as possible. Instruction here is bilingual, in English and Spanish. The schedule for the remainder of this year is:

11 August to 22 August, 1999
25 August to 5 September, 1999
8 - 19 December, 1999
26 Dec to 6 Jan 2000

Children's course: 19 Dec 99

To apply, contact Germán Cano or Martha Molina

tel/fax: (72) 12 66 70 and (72) 13 13 67

Carmen Serdán 114
Colonia Ciprés
Toluca, Edo. México CP 50120

For detailed information on Vipassana meditation worldwide, visit

Schedules and contact information for Vipassana courses in Mexico and Latin America are available at

Copper Canyon trails challenged by "Walking Machines": This past March I was co-leader of a trek into the Barranca del Cobre, better know as Mexico's Copper Canyon. After three days in the rugged barranca bottom, with side trips to a cliff-hugging hotspring, several river crossings, and a lot of boulder-hopping, my "trusty" sandals exploded at the seams. Forget about emergency Shoe Goo or inventive uses of duct tape; these sandals were done-in, blown-out, and dead-on-arrival. That's when I took a closer look at our friend Jim Kline's CAT sandals, made by none other than the Caterpillar Tractor Company. Forget Gucci: four industrial gauge straps, plus the "Walking Machines" imprint and soles as knobbly as a motocross tire indicate that this fearsome footwear definitely isn't suitable for the office.

After some persuasion, Jim finally relented and let me try on one sandal (but only one). To my great surprise, the sandal was not only wonderfully stiff -- a requirement to protect my easily bruised feet -- but it was also amazingly comfortable. In fact, it was as sturdy as a hiking boot, but without the boot's weight or warmth. I looked up at Jim -- such a kind guy, such an innocent face -- and I knew that I simply had to have the other one. ... to be continued

Get more info on my Copper Canyon treks and tips on travel in Mexico's Barranca del Cobre and Sierra Tarahumara.

The last word on Mexican politics?:if you've ever wondered why we don't devote much (if any) space to la politica in our publications and website, you might consider the comments of Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes, who joked that he'd probably have to give up writing fiction because Mexico's crazy political scene is simply too hard to top.

Mexican hot saucehas achieved record-breaking popularity in the U.S. Campbell's purchased Pace, the world's top Mexican sauce maker, for $1.1 billion. In just four years, more than 700 new hot sauceswere introduced in the U.S. Chili peppers can do more than make your mouth burn:according to Housecalls (301 Howard St. San Francisco, CA 94105) soothing creams containing capsaicin, one of the chemicals that give a chili pepperits "bite", are effective against arthritis pain. Repeated applications of capsaicin cream gradually deplete the supply of Substance P, a "pain messenger" in nerves affected by arthritis.

keep checking back... to be continued!

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©1972-2002 by Carl Franz & Lorena Havens