The People's Guide To Mexico

The People's Guide to Mexico


The People’s Guide to Mexico

(25th Anniversary Edition)

By Carl Franz
Edited by Lorena Havens & Steve Rogers
Illustrated by Glen Strock
and Toby Williams

John Muir Publications, 1998
$22.95, 573 pages.
(now in the 12th edition, Fall 2002, published by Avalon Travel Publishing,)

Reviewed by Ara Taylor

November 18, 1999, Bellingham Herald, Bellingham, WA

"If you’re looking for the lowdown on Mexico, this is it.

Celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary edition, The People’s Guide to Mexico is no mere ordinary guide book, and reading it is no mere ordinary experience.

Franz has more in common with a great storyteller than he does with the local travel agent. Pointers on how to interact with the culture of a foreign country rarely get this explicit. A cover to cover reading will provide more thorough immersion into Mexican culture and history than the average college level course will. His advice is so spot on and deadpan, so keenly laced with good common sense and outrageous humor, that reading this book is almost as good as going there.

Like an old friend, it will give you the confidence and support needed to survive and thrive in Mexico. Everything from restaurants to road signs is covered.

Unsure about how to handle the scary combination of machismo and driving? Not to worry. "On the highway, never do anything to provoke another driver. When a truck tries to pass you on a hill, allow him to go around rather than forcing him to drop back right at the last minute. The reason for this is that he is not going to drop back, even if it kills you both."

He and Earnest Hemmingway might conflict on the spectacle of bullfights, but Franz is more hip to the act behind the mystique. A good matador, like "a nighttime talk show host," is full of flamboyant tricks. "Kneeling before the bull, for example, with the matador’s back to the wall, is a favorite. What most fans do not realize, however, is that the bull has no desire to collide with the wall and tends to avoid it."

His brief history of Mexico is drop dead funny. On the subjects of safety, public bathrooms, where to stay, what to eat, how to act and so on, he is even more erudite. When asked by a nervous young tourist what words to yell when floundering in Mexican waters, his straight man answer, unarguable, was great. " 'HELLLLPPP!' I demonstrated, adding, 'the translation speaks for itself.'"

His tips for blending into Mexican culture are priceless. "A special note to punks, bikers, skinheads, aging hippies, and miscellaneous weirdoes: it’s only natural that the less you look like Dick and Jane, the more you’ll be looked at by Mexican cops. If this bothers you, try a disguise."

Full of wild stories, great graphics, and invaluable travel information, The People’s Guide is a shockingly funny read. Treat yourself to a little armchair adventuring.

For this, you don’t even have to leave home."

Order The People's Guide to Mexico

©1972-2002 by Carl Franz & Lorena Havens