Monthly Archives: September 2010

A new experience…

September 30, 2010

‘Last day of the month…

I’ve always felt that September 1st is the true start of my annual cycle. Many years as a student followed by many more as a teacher and college director have reinforced that conviction. The fact that Jorge and I are “sort-of” retired hasn’t really changed things.  There’s an energy that takes hold of us and all sorts of new projects and plans are conceived.

Revising and editing my book has taken up the lion’s share of hours this month, yet Jorge and I have still enjoyed September’s novelty. Despite la crisis our school got off to a rousing start… we celebrated México’s Bicentennial… saw friends… swam the pool and took walks around our neighborhood.

This past Monday and Tuesday, my friend Ellyn and I had a new experience. We were extras in a promotional video! Our makeup and hair was done by the on-site beautician and we were photographed by professionals. We met the “real models” and heard about their glamorous lives…


The hacienda where it all happened… Our hostess and the photographer   


One of the lovely models and the lady who        did our hair and makeup   


We took a cooking class for the camera and I also got to be a painter…

Great fun!


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It’s been such a long time!

September 28, 2010

It’s been such a long time!

I began the revisions and editing process of “Magic Made in Mexico” on August 23rd and here it is September 28th… My editor David Bodwell (Editorial Mazatlan) and I have written literally hundreds of emails back and forth. Every line of the manuscript has been debated – many times over! Through it all, we’ve been mostly cordial and the work has progressed at a good clip. In fact, it is now with the typesetter. Yeah!!!

When we hit this milestone, David asked me how I felt about the way the book had turned out. I told him that I so appreciated the fact that he did not try to change my work – but he enhanced it. Professional editors have the ability to see word, sentence, and paragraph order in completely different ways. In fact three complete sections of my book are now placed differently to where I’d originally written them.

The next step is choosing the cover images and design as well as the interior pictures, maps and graphs. In many ways, this is more fun but also entails endless decision making.

From here… the book will go to print and will be available by December 4th in select book stores, libraries and online at Amazon. An Ebook version will soon be launched…

For those readers who do not know the story that inspired “Magic Made in Mexico”… here’s a short outline.

MAGIC MADE IN MEXICO consists of three main sections – almost each is a book in itself!

In the first part, “Joanna’s Story”, you will read about how I met the man who would become my husband and how I moved to México to be with him. That happened almost 35 years ago and in the process, I became part of the magic that is so all-encompassing in this corner of the world. I´ve lived such amazing adventures, and yes, from time to time, have struggled with homesickness and cultural clashes.

The second section of this book is a detailed guide that will shed light on many cultural issues.“The Alphabet” features anecdotes and practical tips that will increase your appreciation of the unique customs of México… from A – Z.

In the third part of the book “Our Country – Our State – Our City,” you will find a condensed, concise, history of México. Reading through the easy-to-follow pages, many of your questions about the pre-Columbian México, the Spanish conquest, the Independence and the forming of the Republic will be answered. Learning about the past will increase your understanding of present-day México

As well, MAGIC MADE IN MEXICO features a condensed account of how Jorge and I started and still successfully run our own college.

Finally, to further increase your enjoyment and knowledge, a suggested reading list provides the names of other informative and interesting books about the country.  

Settling into life in this very diverse country is full of fun and feistiness. México seduces like a Latin lover, and every day you’ll be surprised by the people’s warmth and kindness; the vibrant music, delicious cuisine, sultry climate and vivid colors of this land that are a feast for every one of the senses.

P.S. One track mind or what? I just glanced through the former posts for this month and can see that I am repeating myself – a lot! Sorry for the repeated info and pictures… I already have something very different planned for tomorrow!


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Positive Attitude

September 23, 2010  

Positive Attitude

Since I moved to Mérida in 1976, many friends from abroad have asked me, “Do you really think it is safe to live there?” The stories of corruption abound… and sure, there has always been petty thievery but if you were careful, the small-time delinquents would find a different target.

Up until recently, I blithely dismissed security concerns and I still do play them down… but not so quickly. Mérida is not dangerous but I do take precautions I didn’t take before. I have outdoor cameras mounted on my high wall; I keep my doors locked at home and my gate is always secured. I do not drive in poorly-lit, scarcely populated areas at night and I’m alert to what’s going on around me. I think that my very visible protection measures are an effective deterrent.

Even at night, I still feel very comfortable walking alone downtown and in my García Ginerés neighborhood. I trust the people I come in contact with and I don’t ever feel they take advantage. There are so many aspects of living in Mérida that please me.

But I do notice there is less confidence between strangers. With yesterday’s robbery of a jewelry store in Altabrisa shopping mall everyone’s antennae are cocked a little higher. My Yucatecan friends are distraught; crime and violence were not something they ever had to worry about. Of course the incidence of illegal activity has soared all through the country and the whole world for that matter – how can we realistically expect that it won’t impact our state?

We can’t but we can control our attitudes. I believe that the mass frenzy caused by criminal acts only creates an environment for more of the same. Caution has its place but there’s not the necessity for hysteria. So how should we react? What should we be doing?

My feeling is that much of what is occurring is the result of really poor leadership. The authorities ignore the warning signs and their inattention and inaccessibility allows situations to get out of control. I believe this apathetic attitude is at the heart of the general malaise in the community. We need to demand more of our public leaders. For the population to feel at ease, there needs to be orderliness.

I often look back to the years when I used to visit high schools doing recruitment on behalf of our college. When I would go to a preparatoria and see tidy gardens, students in uniform and accessible teachers, I knew right away that this school, no doubt, had a good principal. Good leadership trickles down. And so does positive attitude,

Although most readers of this blog are not civic leaders, I believe we have a role to play. Unless we are citizens of México, we cannot involve ourselves in politics but we can  be generous and friendly. and we can affect  small but significant changes. When something is amiss in our neighborhood (clogged drains, potholes, and garbage buildup in the streets) we need to see that it gets put right. We need to do what we can to create a harmonious environment. If we sense that someone living on our street is having problems, a small act of kindness will work wonders. “Cookie therapy” makes anyone feel better. We can’t save the world but we can contribute towards more civility and balance.

Although Mérida is experiencing negative influence, we can offset it somewhat by having a positive attitude. I don’t concern myself with what others are doing or not doing, I do what I can and eventually it rubs off on others. Positivity breeds more of the same.

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Nose to the Grindstone

September 20, 2010

Nose to the Grindstone…  

Glued to the computer is where I’ve been this past month. Every day – almost all day has been spent editing my book. I don’t know if I ever had an idea of what this process would be like but I didn’t dream it would be basically re-writing the book… again… and again… and again!

There are so many details. Of course one wants the story to flow along nicely. But for that to actually happen, every sentence and paragraph need to be endlessly revised. The font is important as is the spacing. If there are to be any pictures (in my book there are) these must be chosen, sized and formatted. My editor David Wise Bodwell of Editorial Mazatlán is very experienced and insists we work until the book is as perfect as it can possibly be. I am grateful for his dedication and I’m sure he’s as glad as me that we are rapidly approaching the end of our revisions… 

MAGIC MADE IN MEXICO  will be released in early December of this year. It will be available in selected book stores and libraries, through  and there will be an eBook version as well. I have written “MAGIC” for those who are considering a move to México and for those who have already relocated here.  For my friends who have lived in México for “unos años”… reading  the book will be like a trip down Memory Lane.

The three main sections are almost three different books.

In the first, “Joanna’s Story”, you will read about how I met Jorge, the man who would become my husband and how I moved to México to be with him. That happened almost 35 years ago and in the process I became part of the magic that encompasses this corner of the world.

“The Alphabet,” the second chapter of the book helps readers to understand many of the cultural shocks they might experience or are already experiencing.  It features anecdotes and practical tips that will increase your appreciation of the unique culture and customs of México…from A to Z.

The third part, “Our Country,” is a condensed history of México (and the Yucatán). I believe that learning about the past is important because it increases our understanding of present-day México. 

(This is NOT our wedding picture… it was taken at our college’s Valentines Day Fair. The students all said that Jorge and I looked like newly-weds)

A brief account of how my husband and I started our college in Mérida and a Recommended Reading list are both found at the end of the book.

Over the past few weeks, Jorge , my friends and family have been very patient but they too are going to breathe a sigh of relief when I am once again part of their world. I thank my Writing From Mérida regular readers for continuing to check in to see what’s new… never fear, I’ll soon be back to posting daily.


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The Way We Were…

September 19, 2010

The Way We Were…

Looking through closets the other day, Jorge found an old shoebox with slides his father had taken “many moons” ago. We purchased a converter and now have the old pictures on the computer…  they are damaged and mildewed but little by little we’ll get them cleaned up. Nonetheless,  I think that even as they are – they bring back such great memories!

Jorge and I in 1977 B.C. (Before Children)

 Carlos as a baby (1982)

                                                                                                                  Happy Mommy and Baby!

Maggie and Jorge, 1985






  Staying cool in 1985…                                                  


Wonderful Memories!

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And a fine time was had by all…

September 16, 2010

And a fine time was had by all…

The brain cells aren’t too active today. I will just post a few pictures so you’ll see that in Mérida, we did indeed celebrate Mexico’s Bicentennial with fine form…

Many thanks to Debi and Nancy for taking such excellent shots!

The cotumes at our fiesta were “Fab-u-ous Darling! ” We had several repeats but the different twist each person put into their version made each one unique.

Frida, El Charro, Cantinflas and oo-oo-oo Diego!



The Two Fridas    

And all the Adelitas….

La Angel de la Independencia



Who are those masked ones?


¡Viva México!





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¡Viva México!

September 15, 2010…. ¡Viva México!

Everything is ready as can be… for months citizens and governors have been planning a great celebrations to commemorate this special, historic day – Mexico’s Bicentennial. 

It’s been a bonanza for street vendors who have had brisk sales of all sorts of Bicentennial souvenirs.

All manner of food is being concocted and one sees items for sale in the local Comercial Mexicana that one has never seen there before!!! These boys will be in the Pozole pot by nightfall.

Other more common comida mexicana is also on the menu for México’s Bicentennial.




But “Mother Nature” has a say in all of this and has decided to send an envoy… Tropical Storm Kyle is causing rain but so far – let’s hope it will not amount to more than that!

Nonetheless, we will put on our carefully selected costumes and we’ll celebrate in great style.

This an occasion when it will take more than rain to dampen people’s enthusiasm.








The headliner to follow El Grito is Juan Gabriel – no slouch is he. He claims that tonight ,as he belts out all his popular hits… la Virgen de Guadalupe will accompany him, just as she did Padre Hidalgo 200 years ago. Presumably she will see that no rain falls on our parade.

That’s the spirit… Viva México Señores!

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