The People's Guide To Mexico

The People's Guide to Mexico

The People's Guide to Mexico
How it all Began

--Preface from the 11th edition-- 

13th edition
Discover why generations of travelers say they wouldn't cross the border without it! Read the award-winning book, The People's Guide to Mexico
In late December of 1972, I stood nervously on the sidewalk in front of Cody’s, a popular bookstore on Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue. As a small crowd gathered, Steve and Lorena tore open a heavy carton and spread newly printed copies of The People’s Guide To Mexico across a brightly patterned Mitla blanket. In addition to the apprehension every author suffers when birthing a book, we were also experiencing serious financial suspense. Three years of travel through Mexico and Central America had left us nearly penniless. With two unruly parrots and a road-weary VW van to feed, we were counting on the People’s Guide to provide us with enough gas money to escape the big city.

While Steve and I wrung our hands in a parody of anxious fatherhood, Lorena’s luminous, post-Summer-of-Love smile soon attracted curious browsers. Within minutes she sold the first copy. To my delight there was no further need to “pitch” our wares. Like hungry customers crowded around a busy taco stand, the word spread favorably from one person to another -- “It’s some kind of really far-out travel book on Mexico!”.

Within an hour our pockets were stuffed with cash. “Caramba!” Steve cried as he ripped open a second box. “I can’t believe it! It works! They like it!” Lightheaded with excitement, we passed out books and frantically made change.

Needless to say, we had no premonition that the success of the “PG” would keep the book in print for more than twenty-five years, through many expansions, revisions, upheavals and editions. When our friend and publisher, John Muir (author of the classic How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive) mused that our book might sell as many as 25,000 copies in its lifetime, I dismissed his prediction as completely reckless.

Once the book was finished we hit the road again, continuing to roam from one corner of North America to another. It would take a computer to trace our path: according to our sometimes hazy memories, Lorena and I have lived in over eighty places, from southern Guatemala to British Columbia and Alaska. In the early Seventies, Steve and the parrots headed for the mountains of Oregon while Lorena and I took up residence in San Miguel de Allende.

There I completed one of my favorite projects, The People’s Guide To Camping, Backpacking and Boating In Mexico, followed a few years later by The On & Off The Road Cookbook. Meanwhile, Steve was not gathering moss. In addition to importing folk art, Steve, Tina Rosa and their daughter Churpa produced two well-regarded books, The Shopper’s Guide To Mexico, and Mexico In 22 Days. Next came another collaboration with Steve, The People’s Guide To RV Camping In Mexico. The book didn’t attract quite as much attention as the reunion of the Beatles, but we enjoyed it almost as much.

By the mid-Eighties, even our parents finally gave in to our nomadic lifestyle and quit asking when we intended to settle down and get “real” jobs. It was apparent that in spite of its rather offhanded conception, the tail was vigorously wagging the dog: The People’s Guide To Mexico had led us toward ill paid but very rewarding careers in travel writing, importing, guiding and alternative publishing.

Today, as we wrap up this 25th Silver Anniversary Edition, we can only shake our heads -- in both gratitude and amazement -- at the impact the People’s Guide has had on our lives. Though we can’t thank each of our readers personally, please know that your support over the years has been our main inspiration to keep the book alive and up-to-date.

The People's Guide to Mexico
13th edition
Discover why generations of travelers say they wouldn't cross the border without it! Read the award-winning book: The People's Guide to Mexico

From The People's Guide to Mexico

©1972-2008 by Carl Franz & Lorena Havens