The People's Guide To Mexico

Past Notebook

 Carl's Notebook

October 19, 1999
Lake Chapala,
Jalisco, Mexico

Important changes to email and bookmarks: Lorena and I have new addresses and The People’s Guide has a new website server... please read!

Mexico Journal update: Carl describes the route from Nogales to Lake Chapala, with some thoughts on living and retiring in Mexico.

Writer’s Write!
In March of 2000 Carl and Lorena will conduct a week-long workshop on the craft of writing. To inspire greater creativity, it’s at the beach.

“Best Travel Book of 1999”: The People’s Guide To Mexico 25th Anniversary Edition wins a prestigious prize!

Pulling the plug: The People’s Guide Travel Letter has regretfully suspended publication.

Remembering Steve: your letters continue to console and encourage us.

Last but not least: smuggling spiders, for fun or profit?


After taking a deep, hard look into our crystal ball, Lorena and I have moved the People’s Guide website to Mindspring, a larger and much more flexible server. We not only expect a significant increase in content and visitors, we’re also considering the addition of People’s Guide discussion forums (especially Living/Retiring in Mexico and Independent Travel).

This move establishes a permanent address for The People’s Guide To Mexico at

For most of you, our change of servers should be “transparent” and pain free. If, however, you bookmarked our website before the 10th of October, the bookmark address is probably to our previous server address ( rather than the correct, current address at

It’s not a big change, but to avoid aimless confusion, we strongly suggest that you delete the old bookmark (which ends in “/mexico”) and re-bookmark right now with the current address. Again, that is:

On to our new email addresses....

In the past, Lorena and I shared the same email address ( With our new server, however, we now get additional email addresses. These are: (this address is mainly for mail links from the People’s Guide website)

Our old address ( ) still works, so the advantage of writing to our new addresses is mostly on our end: it allows us to quickly find and answer our personal mail, and to avoid reading each other’s incoming spam.

Incidentally, some of you are still writing to us with this address:

This address was for email sent to us via our previous server. It is about to expire, however, so email to will not reach us. Please update our address(es) to the new ones above.

Got it?


Writer’s write!
Using pens, pencils, and Pentiums. They also search for inspiration: in libraries and bookstores, on buses and in sidewalk cafes. When they’re desperate or blocked, writers beg, borrow and even steal each other’s ideas. Forget social life; as soon as an idea arises, writers drop everything, scribbling notes rather than paying attention to the kids or whatever’s being said. Using pens,pencils, and Powerbooks. Writer’s write!

In March of 2000, Lorena and I will conduct a practical, how-to workshop on effective writing at Mar de Jade on Mexico’s Pacific coast. We’ll cover everything from inspiration and self-discipline to creativity and craft. The emphasis is on both enjoying and improving your writing. Bring your questions, self-doubts, and manuscripts -- but whatever you do, don’t forget a bathing suit.
For more information, click here


The People’s Guide Travel Letter began life several years ago as a way to share information that wouldn’t fit into our books, as well as a means of responding to the many excellent letters we receive from our readers. It wasn’t long, however, before this casually conceived “newsletter” turned into a fully illustrated 64 page mini-book.

At just $15 for 4 issues, the Travel Letter also took a regular, quite painful bite out of our household budget. The financial support of advertisers helped, of course, but thanks to the steadily rising costs of printing, postage and handling, we’ve been lucky if an issue managed to break even.

Ironically, the response of readers has been very enthusiastic. I say “ironically”, because even as we tried to justify keeping the Travel Letter afloat, we also realized that our greatest competitor was our own People’s Guide To Mexico website. Thanks to the internet, it is possible to create an information-rich website for a fraction of the cost of a print publication. Better yet, we can publish and update the website from Mexico with laptop computers, either while travelling in our van or renting a house.

This led us to the obvious but reluctant conclusion that it was time to close down The People’s Guide Travel Letter. The good news is that from now on, letters, articles, artwork and other material that might have been published in the Travel Letter, will instead be published on the People’s Guide website. Better yet, there is no charge .

The big question remains: What about current subscribers, especially those who have paid for the Travel Letter?

We’ve come up with three options:

The first is a full refund: simply ask us to return the unused portion of your subscription and we’ll be glad to send you a check. This is a lot of paperwork, so we’re hoping you’ll prefer the second option, below.

Instead of a subscription refund, our preferred way to compensate subscribers is with a copy of our next book (which should be on Living & Retiring In Mexico). As the book’s value will almost certainly be greater than $15, this will be a good deal for most of you.

When will the book be done? I’m sorry you asked. As a Travel Letter subscriber, you ought to know by now that Lorena and I are notoriously hard to pin down about deadlines. The most I can say is that we’re working on it, but we’re not placing bets on when the book will be finished. Choose this option, however, and when it is.... you’ll be among the first to know!

The third option is to simply write off whatever’s left of your subscription as a flaky investment.

If you have any other suggestions, or closing comments on The People’s Guide Travel Letter, please let us know.

Those of you who visited this website over the summer are aware that our compadre and co-author, Steve Rogers, died on July 1 after a brief illness. We’re slowly putting together a
"Celebrating Steve" section that will include photographs, letters and stories about him. Steve touched a lot of lives, so this will be an ongoing effort to collect some of our best memories. (Please, do contribute something if you’d like to.)

In the meantime, we want to thank those of you who sent cards, letters, and emails of condolence. Before he died, Steve expressed astonishment at the outpouring of love and support he received, both from friends and faraway readers of the People’s Guide.

“Hey, Steve.” I teased. “Don’t you know by now that you’re a hero? This may not be as public as Timothy Leary or the death of Jerry Garcia, but in terms of impact, you’re right up there.”

I’ll close for now with a believe-it-or-not tidbit that Steve would have loved. The headline is from a leading Mexican newspaper :

“French Woman Detained In Germany With 1,300 Mexican Spiders!”

According to the article, a French woman was detained in Frankfurt, accused of smuggling 1,300 female Mexican spiders. All of the spiders were of a protected species, and most were pregnant. 112 died; the surviving spiders were interned at a local zoo.

Carl's Journals

Carl's Notebooks

©1972-2002 by Carl Franz & Lorena Havens