The People's Guide To Mexico
Carl's Mexico Notebook

**Note: Carl is now writing at**

Carl's Mexico Blog

If you are new to this website and our books, and unfamiliar with our informal "People's Guide" style of travel and writing, be warned!.... there is no particular order here. The material that follows is right off the top of my desk, out of my notebooks and sometimes off-the-wall. Lorena eventually reorganizes these entries and links them to the central People's Guide web archives, located deep within an abandoned silver mine somewhere in the state of Chihuahua.

Mexico In The Headlines



Open a large bag of chips, because there's a lot more in Past Issues of Carl's Mexico Notebook

Greetings! I can't remember how many copies of how many editions of the The People’s Guide to Mexico I have bought, read out loud, recommended, given away.....I even went through a copy in the early 80's and noted every typo I could find and sent it to John Muir Publications. Needless to say, it has been a very good friend in its many iterations for a very long time.

I seem to remember a story about a story about a campesino traveling with a burro by night while hitting it on the head to make a dimming lamp shine more brightly. This story doesn't appear in my newly minted 25th Anniversary Edition. In what edition did this story appear? I have been picking up used copies of various editions on the net and would like to zero in on that one. Thanks and keep up the great work! --

Taylor Benson.

Carl Replies

I can't tell you what a nice "kick" it is to get messages such as yours. There has never been any doubt in our minds that the People's Guides' longevity is largely due to people such as you. Believe me, we deeply appreciate your long support!

About that story... unless my memory has slipped an extra cog, it appeared in the People's Guide to Backpacking, Boating & Camping in Mexico. Alas, long out of print and very hard to find.

It pleases me that you remember the story.


Incredible pero cierto!

There truly is a REAL Carl Franz and he responds to e-mail with blistering speed. I grabbed my '81 edition of The People's Guide To Camping, Backpacking & Boating in Mexico........De veras Carl...... It was as you said, page 152 in "Camping in Mexico"....." a huge knock-kneed burro staggered into view." What a great story, and that's without any of the stories the "Zapatista" shared along with his aguadiente (tooth water?).

Have you considered writing a collection of all the stories in all your books combined with the others that haven't quite made it into print?

What I didn't mention in my previous message was how deeply saddened I was to hear about Steve. I discovered your website only last night and was stunned to find out about his passing. I mentioned that your books have been like dear friends over the years, but didn't mention the obvious; by revealing so much of yourselves in your work, all of you became like dear friends.

The tribute you gave him was wonderful....... very loving. My heart goes out to you and Lorena.

Anyway, thanks for helping me with my missing cog and enjoy the recipe, it's really good.

Vaya con Dios y que le vaya bien. -- Taylor.

PS: I found a used copy of the People’s Guide to Camping in Mexico on Barnes and Nobel .com com for $50. Hard to find and as you see, valuable.

PSS: I also noticed that PG was awarded Best Of honors in '99. Now that's a slow burn!

PSSS: I’m sending you my favorite Sweet Tamales recipe.


Thanks for the tip about the used copy of our Camping book... Fifty dollars! I don't know whether to laugh or cry. The last copy I found was in the Oaxaca State Pawn Shop -- it was bundled with another book, wrapped in ixtle twine, and I believe I got them both for a couple of bucks.

Since the Camping Book was written BC (before computers) Lorena just retyped “Vapor” and is putting it up on the website. Allow us to dedicate this first excerpt to you and your wife, in appreciation for your long support.

Speaking of interesting books, have you seen Behind The Mexican Mountains by Robert Zingg, U of Texas Press? I'm just getting into it now... Zingg coauthored one of the definitive studies on the Tarahumara in the '30s. This is his personal, all-too revealing memoir.


Laughing till you cry is a third option..... I can't imagine what it must be like to scuffle and scrape and come up with a book that sells new for less than $10, doesn't generate all that much income, doesn't hack it in the shark pit of commercial publishing well enough to justify subsequent editions, but is so beloved by a discerning following and intrinsically valuable that it sells used for $50 - $100.

Pretty strange.....I bet that wasn't a future you considered all those years you were lugging your manuscript tablets, notes, etc. around! Thanks for the book reference, it sounds great.  

Have you seen The Death Of Manolete by Barnaby Conrad, 1958, Houghton Mifflin? No book I have ever read better evokes the power of bullfighting. It is one of those wonderful 50's picto-books reminiscent of The Wind That Swept Mexico, only better. You really get the feeling of being there.

Please let Lorena know that more recipes are on the way. --


Open a large bag of chips, because there's a lot more in
Past Issues of Carl's Mexico Notebook

©1972-2008 by Carl Franz & Lorena Havens