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Carl's Notebook # 7

This is just a portion of the mail we’ve received in the last couple of weeks. Please, if you’ve written but haven’t yet had a reply, do remind us again. In addition to being very busy, we might have let a few emails fall “between the cracks”.

Brain Flakes for Breakfast

Estimado Carl and Lorena,

I have spent the last two hours at your website engrossed in every word and each image you present. It is a site I will return to often and recommend to friends.

I bought your
25th anniversary People's Guide this summer and have read it from cover to cover three times! It will accompany me on my drive from Chicago to Oaxaca this winter. I visit Mexico at least annually and of all the guide books I've read yours is the one that is closest to my sensibilities and attitudes regarding travel and exploration.

I join the many others who are very sorry to learn of your friend
Steve's death. I so enjoyed reading all your stories involving him in The People's Guide, especially "Parrot Fever" and the "Great Grunt O Rama".

I'd like to submit a funny menu misprint that my friend and I found on a menu in a cafe in Tuxtla Gutierrez last winter: under the many breakfast choices (which included cereals commonly found in the USA) was "brain flakes".

We opted for the fruit and yogurt.

Thank you for sharing your wonderful free-spirited and adventurous lives with your readers. Through you I am able to dream and live vicariously a life that I hope to make a reality someday. I would be honored if our paths cross one day in magical Mexico.

Que te vaya bien.


----Dear Catalina,

Your message came this morning, just as I was about to sit down to work. Email can sometimes be a rather cold medium, but I want you to know that yours touched us very deeply. Steve's loss is incredibly painful, but we have found genuine solace and healing in wonderful messages such as yours.

Oh, how Steve would have enjoyed a hearty bowl of "brain flakes"!

Your comments about the web site are also very much appreciated. I am going to forward your message to Stephanie, our friend and web-collaborator in the U.S. She and Lorena put a lot of work and heart into the site, and they have plans for interesting additions. Also, we would really appreciate it if you continue to critique the site as it grows.

Lorena and I are hard at work on a book about living, working and retiring in Mexico. We're both spending a lot of time in front of a computer instead of exploring this beautiful country, so support such as yours is doubly appreciated.

Carl and Lorena


Is Carl getting old?

I received one issue of the Travel Letter, and hate to hear that no further issues will be forthcoming, but understand. Please apply option "b" toward your new book on retiring to Mexico, and I'll mail you a check for any difference required. I am 70 and a Mexiphile of the 2ndwater and my 91 year old mother is a Mexiphile of the 1st water after travelling there since the 40s. Her favorite book is your old PG which remains by her arm most of the time. We had hoped to make Morelia home ,but alas it hasn't happened!

Regards John Phillips

---Dear John,

Thanks for supporting our reluctant decision to suspend the Travel Letter -- and please don't send any more money, we'd only spend it :)

We were very pleased to hear that both you and your mother are PG readers.... the first time I really understood "aging" was when a young man of about 21 years came up to me and gushed, "My parents used to read to me from your book when I was a baby." My first thought, of course, was "How is that possible?"

I do hope that your plan of moving to Mexico comes to pass. Morelia is
definitely on our list for future research, so with any luck we'll meet you both there. Keep in touch and please tell others about the website -- as with our books, “” is a word-of-mouth enterprise!

Carl & Lorena


Please Come Back!

Dear Mr. Franz,

I am writing through my tears. Until I saw your name on Mexconnect and their forum, I didn't know about your website, and so didn't know about Steve. I am so very very sorry. He and you and Lorena have been part of my life since I first discovered your books. As I bring home the latest edition of your books, and read them from cover to cover, they do not go in my bookshelf, they go on the bathroom shelf, ready to be enjoyed at any time. Open to any page and enjoy and learn.

I've never driven into Mexico, but more than thirty years ago I started flying myself into Mexico. That was in the days when a brand-new really sharp single engine plane cost $11,000 and fuel was $.35 a gallon. I was living up in New England and heard about the All Women's International Air Race, dubbed the Angel Derby by a Mexican newspaperman when he saw all these women pilots descending from the sky.

I air raced for years to and from Mexico and learned to love all the little towns we landed in, and of course the people. Everyone was so friendly, they all wanted to know how we liked their town, and asked us to please come back.

We assured them that we loved their town and yes, we were looking forward to returning some day.

I was leaving San Luis Potosi one day, taxiing out on the runway as there was no taxiway, and the controller said, “Please come back”, and I assured him that we certainly would, that we had loved being there.

His voice became a bit more plaintive as he repeated, “Please come back”, and I assured him again that we were looking forward to it, and then he all but yelled, “Please come back! Airliner on final!”

You never saw a little plane make a 180 as fast as I did and scoot back for the safety of the ramp. It was a bit later that the American Airlines plane landed, they had been a good twenty miles out...

We now travel to Mexico free as I married a retired airline pilot. He has Alzheimers so I need to be in Mexico where the elderly are treated with respect and there is help that one can afford. I am negotiating for a neat village house, but it's difficult having to come up with 100% cash!

It's an honor to be able to tell you a story when I have read and loved so
many of yours.

I have one last story, the one I hug to myself when I think about my travels in Mexico.

I was on a long final into Acapulco and just coming up on the lake when the air traffic controller told me, "Make a three-sixty, aircraft still on runway".

So I made a happy circle over the lake and came back on final when I heard the controller, "Oh lady", he breathed, "you done real good!".

I have chuckled about this ever since. And whenever I feel down, I know there is someone in the world who thought I "done real good".

Thanks for listening and thanks again for your wonderful books which I treasure. Still through my tears, I'll say a prayer for Steve tonight.

Peggy Sanders


I traveled blindfolded

lorena and carl

although we have never met i feel like i've known you forever.

i first went to mexico in 1978 and immediately fell in love with that fantastic country and its people. i only had my dog, my van, a very limited supply of pesos and my sense of adventure. i did not have your/my peoples guide yet but still had a fantastic experience and of course was hooked.
then i was turned-on to your book and it was like i had traveled blindfolded.

needless to say it has been my families travel companion, always close at hand, or my/our mexican adventures (16 in 20 years) ever since, and always enjoy your style of writing and your experiences with your buddy steve.

we were very surprised and sad when we read on the website about the passing of your travel companion and can only share with you the loss and feeling of emptiness that follows. although all the kind words in the world are of little consolation, perhaps your fond memories and Lorena's support will give you the strength to carry on as i’m sure you will.

we look forward to reading more of your fascinating and insightful writings and i truly do consider myself fortunate to have made you an acquaintance, although yet only in spirit and print. quien sabe? maybe someday we'll meet in person. it would be my pleasure and i'm sure mutually rewarding if i do say so.

again, our deepest sympathies.

alan, pernita, reina and cianna armstrong
creston, b.c., canada

---Dear alan,pernita,reina and cianna armstrong

Lorena and I were deeply touched by your letter -- this has truly been the hardest of times for us, but messages such as yours do offer genuine consolation. As far as we're concerned, the best measure of the People's Guide success isn't in figures or number of "sales", but personal messages such as yours. Steve knew, of course, that he had a reputation as a "character", but in those final weeks he was nonetheless flattered, overwhelmed, and amazed by the love and support offered by his "fans" around the world.

Thank you so much for writing -- and with any luck, we *will* meet one of these days!

Carl & Lorena


Mexico Map Wanted


I'm trying to find a large map of mexico to download for a project I'm doing.

Can you help,


---Hola Paddy,

I'd like to find such a map myself, but so far... not much luck. In fact, my solution has been to scan a map, but that doesn't help much in terms of large size. If you know anyone who will be in Mexico soon, I suggest that they go to a large "papeleria" or bookstore that sells school texts and supplies. You can find inexpensive maps of Mexico, very large and easy to read, designed for classroom display.

On the web, try

Ron Mader has many resources there, and I believe you'll find something. Microsoft Encarta also publishes an online map, and it is probably the best of a mediocre lot.

Should you find anything good... please, share it with us, okay? I'll do the same.



Cheap Calls to Mexico

A tip sent in by Dobie Dolphin:

You can call Mexico from California (and all of the US?) for only .20 a minute by dialing 101-6868 before the 011-52.


Have Carl & Lorena gone middle-class?

Hola, Carl,

Thanks to a special, reduced-miles promotion by the American Airlines Aadvantage Program, we may be able to visit Guatemala this January or Feb. Aadvantage is asking for only 25,000 miles, instead of the usual 35,000, and since it's the slowest time of year at work.... I got tentative approval from my employers, today. We just have to find suitable dates. The AA promotion included such destinations as San José, Costa Rica; Panamá; Roatán, Honduras; Caracas, Venezuela.; Bogotá, Colombia (¡Gracias, no!), and Quito, Ecuador.

What a deal. There may be other destinations I have overlooked.

I was surprised to find out you are at Lake Chapala, it always sounded so "middle-class". :-) But I since have learned you are researching material for a new book, on retiring in México. I'll be looking for it in my favorite bookstores, Amazon, on-line; B&N, on the ground. (It's the latté, man!)

Saludos cordiales,

---Hola Mike,

Thanks for the airfare tip; we’ll pass it on via the website.

Yes, we have gone hopelessly middle class here, but it’s probably just a temporary condition. After pioneer living in the soggy Northwest, it is quite a novelty to have such luxuries as electricity and a real refrigerator instead of an ice chest. Guests keep reminding us to turn the lights on. Have we finally achieved the American Dream in sunny Mexico? Stay tuned....


Lake Chapala dreaming

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