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Living & Travel

A Review by Carl Franz

Mexico Living and Travel © 1994 by Jean and John D. Bryant, Mexico Retirement and Travel Assistance, P.O. Box 2190-23, Pahrump, NV 89041-2190. ISBN 1-878061-01-1. $29.95

The Bryants are veteran retiree/residents of Guadalajara who also publish a quarterly retirement newsletter ($25 a year), maps, video and a basic Spanish language guide. Although Mexico Living and Travel includes brief descriptions of Oaxaca, Zacatecas, coastal resorts and a few other retirement possibilities, their focus naturally centers on the ever-popular "retirement triangle" of Guadalajara-Ajijic-Chapala.

Mexico Living and Travel presents an anthology of information on retirement in Mexico, with contributions from about three dozen writers, photographers and artists. Supplemental guidebook style chapters cover "Things To See and Do", "Vacations Within Mexico", and "Important Holidays and Customs." Throughout the book you’ll find short articles on everything from golf in Mexico to descriptions of a wholesale food market and a brief history of Guadalajara. This 300 page book also includes color photographs and a 25 page advertising section.

Let’s start by getting a few gripes out of the way: First off, readers who use a book as complex as this one to reference facts and advice certainly expect to have an index. (There is none, and even the table of contents is sketchy.) Next, although the retirement material is thoughtful and thorough, Mexico Living and Travel is too much of a hodgepodge. I suppose the tourist-oriented material might contribute to a better understanding of Mexico’s broader possibilities, but articles on bullfighting, Cancun and the Copper Canyon struck me as off-topic. Unless you’re talking about retirees "taking up the cape", or offering tips on living in Cancun, I can get enough of this stuff in my Sunday newspaper.

On the other hand... Mexico Living and Travel is also an interesting hodgepodge, with a friendly, unpretentious style. Among the book’s strengths are its short, "This is our experience" essays. Happiness In A Small Mexican Pueblo by Paul Katz and Things We Like and Dislike About Guadalajara will definitely appeal to 'wannabe' retirees. Also good are the sections on specific retirement planning details, such as a list of neighborhood-by-neighborhood suggestions for Lake Chapala house rentals.

If you’ve been reading other books on the subject, much of the advice in Mexico Living and Travel will already be familiar. We all know by now (don’t we?) that retirement in Mexico offers many more rewards than just saving a few bucks on your winter heating bills. Still, it hardly seems possible that any single book (or person) can satisfy our need for information on as a topic as important as planning to live in a foreign country. With its many viewpoints, Mexico Living and Travel does a good job of describing what your retirement in Mexico might be like, and the wide range of possible lifestyles and activities awaiting you.
©1972-2000 by Carl Franz & Lorena Havens
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