Category Archives: Book Review

New Explorations Under Pyramid Of The Sun

Beneath Teotihuacan’s Pyramid of the Sun.

Further Explorations in the “Place Where Gods Were Born”

By Marita Adair

 

It’s not breaking news that a long series of caves, or interconnected chambers, exist below Mexico’s Pyramid of the Sun at the massive Teotihuacan archeological site near Mexico City.  They have been mapped for some time. But new explorations that began in 2005 continue again for a third and final season beginning July 1.  http://dti.inah.gob.mx/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1000&Itemid=150

Spelunking doesn’t apply, in case you’re wondering, even though they are called caves. By all accounts these had sacred significance and ceremonial use. However, somewhere in time most chambers were blockaded and their purpose is part of the mystery

The chamber of interest this year is a large man-made one just below the main façade/platform of the Pyramid of the Sun. According to Alejandro Sarabia Gonzalez, project director, and director of Teotihuacan “The objective of the new exploration is to determine events that happened in there and to obtain elements that allow discovering its meaning and the reason why it was covered completely.”

As it always is with this sort of exploration, new discoveries and questions lead to new studies. Thus the multi-era platforms at the foot of the main façade also became part of the study, as did a tunnel dug at the beginning of the 20th century. 

Occupation of Teotihuacan was begun around 100 A.D. and the Pyramid of the Sun dates from between the first and second centuries A.D.  Even then the caves were central to life and beliefs. The Pyramid of the Sun was “centered on the cave’s entrance and dedicated to the Great Goddess and the god of storm, lightening and rain” according to authors of the book Teotihuacan, Art from the City of the Gods (Thames & Hudson, 1993) http://www.amazon.com/Teotihuacan-City-Gods-Kathleen-Berrin/dp/0500277672.  The position of the cave figured in the orientation of the pyramid and the setting sun. The book has an excellent drawing of the line of interlocking chambers.

Archeological explorations are ongoing in many parts of this site that once covered 20 square miles and held 125,000 inhabitants. http://dti.inah.gob.mx/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=810&Itemid=150 Tremendous influence from these unknown inhabitants has been recorded as far south as Guatemala. Alas, no one knows yet what the people of this city looked like, what they called themselves, or why they abandoned the city after more than 600 years of use. Photos of Teotihuacan are at http://www.sacred-destinations.com/mexico/teotihuacan.htm  Specialized tours of Teotihuacan started in April 2008 and are described at http://dti.inah.gob.mx/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=695&Itemid=49 For tour reservations, and possibly more details, contact  reservacionestci@inah.gob.mx.

 

“First Stop In The New World” by David Lida – Book excerpt

A reporter and writer from New York, David Lida has
called Mexico City home since 1990. In June, Riverhead
Books will publish FIRST STOP IN THE NEW WORLD, a
street-level panorama of contemporary Mexico City.

The book sweeps across the metropolitan area, covering
the sex industry and the corrupt police department;
the dense jungle of urban politics and the brutal
interactions of everyday commerce; religion and art,
shopping and soccer.

Mexico City is brought to life with anecdotes from the
people who live there – the richest man in the world
and a desperate dance-hall girl, and multinational
executives and kidnap negotiators, crack-smoking taxi
drivers and Louis Vuitton customers.

A good example is the following excerpt from FIRST
STOP IN THE NEW WORLD, which Riverhead has allowed us
to publish. It’s about Montse, a 13-year-old girl who
lives on the street.

Here is a link to the book’s Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/First-Stop-World-David-Lida/dp/1594489890/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1207753291&sr=1-1

You can find out more about FIRST STOP IN THE NEW
WORLD, and David Lida, at the author’s website, www.davidlida.com.

Montse’s trip

Her face is oval and nut-colored, with the enormous eyes of a gazelle. Montse’s expression is serious, cautious, pensative. Once in a while she drops her guard and smiles enchantingly. Her black hair, straight and thick, is covered by a beige knit cap. Every once in a while, she sticks her fingers inside to scratch her skull and remove some lice, which she smashes obsessively on the pages of a magazine wrinkled from the rain. Insistently, she also scratches her skeletal body. She is so thin that, with her baggy clothes, it’s hard to tell if she’s a boy or a girl.

Montse lives atop a stone platform in Pushkin Park, on the border between Colonia Roma and Colonia Doctores. She is thirteen, and has lived in the street since she was ten. She shares the platform with six or seven companions (two of whom are her brothers, Luis Enrique and Jesús Eduardo), a white dog with black spots called Stains, and the multitude of fleas and lice. They sleep on top of three mattresses, covered by various blankets donated by sympathetic neighbors. Montse is the only girl in the group.
 
Her breakfast comes out of a can. The can contains Limpiador Dismex, a toxic liquid that dissolves glue, available in any hardware store for two dollars. The sale of such products to minors is against the law, but Montse has found that the personnel of certain shops in the Colonia Guerrero are kind enough to provide it for her under the table. She moistens a piece of toilet paper with the liquid, lays it in her palm, and covers her mouth and nose with her bony hand. This is how her trip begins.
 
“My mother’s in jail for robbery and attempted murder,” she says. She speaks slowly, deliberately, with a monotonous voice, altered by the drug. “She tried to kill her sister.” Montse’s mother and aunt were partners-in-crime in robberies to get money to buy drugs – any drugs they could get their hands on. Montse’s father plays the trumpet with a mariachi band in Plaza Garibaldi, but he doesn’t get along with his children because he disapproves of their drug use.
 
The sort of substance that Montse inhales damages the brain, the liver, the kidneys and the heart. Ten or twenty years ago, Mexico City street kids sniffed glue, which was bad enough, but this generation of inhalant is far more destructive and addictive. A body as young and resistant as Montse’s will keep functioning for a few years, but if she continues to use the drug, its decline and collapse are inevitable.
 
When it’s cold or rainy, Montse and her companions cover themselves with plastic or run underneath the balconies. “Or we just tough it out,” she says. Life in the street has its advantages. “I can do whatever I want any time I want. No one tells me what to do.” There are, however, difficult moments. “Sometimes the boys come and hit us. They come from other neighborhoods, and sometimes they beat us up. There are a lot of them.”
 
Even though she looks like a gust of wind would send her flying across Avenida Cuauhtémoc, Montse insists that she eats every day. “At first, after getting high, I couldn’t. I got nauseous and vomited. Now that hardly ever happens. People from the neighborhood, from the street stalls, from the tianguis, give us food. They give us the fruit they can’t sell. Sometimes the police give us food, the same food that they eat. I like anything that doesn’t have vegetables or onions.”
 
Despite what she says, one morning I saw her biting into a doughnut covered with chocolate. She couldn’t swallow it. She spit out the first bite and gave the rest to one of her friends. She covered her mouth and nose with the little paper.
 
Pushkin Park is a stone’s throw from the Plaza Romita, the principal location where Luis Buñuel filmed Los olvidados in 1950. A restored version of the film, which deals with the brutal life of street children, was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005 and released in Mexico City just after. What is most striking about the movie today is how little has changed. With the introduction of toxic inhalants, the problem of street children here is worse than in Buñuel’s day, when they only amused themselves with alcohol.
 
There are various organizations that try to help street children in Mexico City. They estimate that there are between 3,000 and 3,500 such kids. An additional 10,000 to 15,000 work on the street, shining shoes, selling chewing gum or juggling at traffic intersections, but they tend to live at home with their families. Those who choose the street usually have lived through such extreme violence at home that the sidewalk, with its dangers and hardships, rats and vermin, seems like a better option.
Children are sources of income for impoverished families and often the violence is related to work. They’re sent to the street and if they don’t bring home the required quota, they are beaten. Girls are often hurt by parents and brothers who feel they haven’t performed domestic chores adequately. Sometimes they’re raped.

Among the organizations, Casa Alianza (the Latin American branch of Covenant House) has the largest budget and most comprehensive facilities, including homes where the kids can live until they turn 18. Pro Niños de la Calle is a daycare center where the kids can arrive in the morning, have a shower and a meal, wash their clothes or even get new ones, and watch TV or play games until sundown, when the doors are shut. Casa Yolia deals exclusively with girls, many of whom are pregnant. All have the best success rate with kids who have been on the street a short time and haven’t descended too heavily into drug use. The rest are most often too far gone, not only from drugs, but from violence and such a sustained lack of affection, that it is impossible to get through to them.

Each day, Montse consumes a half-pint can of Limpiador Dismex. If she doesn’t get it she is desperate. She spent a year in a halfway house without taking drugs, but then told her wards she needed to go back to the street to “help” her brothers. At 13, she already has a boyfriend – one of the boys who sleeps on the platform with her. “He hits me,” she says. “But he doesn’t hit me hard. He gets mad because I don’t eat.” Once in a while they sleep in a hotel near Plaza Garibaldi. For about eight dollars they are kings for the night, with hot water and cable TV. The crust of dirt on her skin indicates that she doesn’t experience that luxury too often.

If she wants a bath or a hot meal she knows where to go: “Casa Alianza, Visión Mundial, Pro Niños de la Calle,” she says. She imagines leaving the street one day with the help of one of these foundations. She’d like to live in another state, near a beach. She wants to be a nurse, but can’t say why.

Montse claims to have heard about kids who have died, but hasn’t seen them up close. Yet when she goes into more detail, death could hardly have come nearer. “Some people die because they do drugs and don’t eat,” she says. “Others drown. There was a kid who got run over and died right there,” she says, pointing to Avenida Cuauhtémoc. “And Aarón, rest in peace, died in a hospital from an overdose.” Aarón was her previous boyfriend. When she found out, at first she couldn’t believe it. She didn’t cry but says she was very sad.

I ask her if she would like to have children of her own. She smiles and her face transforms into that of a child, rather than a street child. “When I was little I had a lot of dolls and carriages. I dreamt of myself with babies. I’d still like to have a baby. But not in the street.”

A New Book About Loreto

MP Mexico News

LORETO, The Future of the First Capital of the Californias by Paul Ganster, Oscar Arizpe and Antonia Ivanova. SDSU Press, available from Sunbelt Publications (www.sunbeltpub.com).

Loreto was one of five regions to be targeted by Fonatur, the tourism development arm of the Mexican government, in the early 1970’s. Tho other areas of Los Cabos, Cancun, Ixtapa and Huatulco have experienced various degrees of development for the past 30 years, with Cancun and Los Cabos leading the way. But Loreto, to the relief of many, remained the small, quiet town that it has always been. That is about to change, starting a few years ago with the resurrection of a stalled project five miles south of town, now named Loreto Bay. This project, once so attractive in their scope and vision, has been through an ownership change, and there are questions about where they will be down the road.

The book notes that the town can probably avoid the negative, inevitable by-product that is created whenever populations rapidly expand, stressing natural resources, mass immigration, trash creation, etc. , if Loreto Bay was the only addition to the area, as they strive to having a sustainable-development, ecological model. But several more devlopments are now on the drawing board, and they have no such good intentions.

In Loreto, as in all of Baja, the main issue is water. There isn’t any, or not much. This is a desert with very little rain. Los Cabos and La Paz are building desalination plants, turning sea water into fresh. This always sounds good, but as you peel back the layers you find that desal plants themselves have significant effects on the environment, destroying offshore ecosystems, putting significant demands on electricity resources, and leaving a salt by-product that is not easy to dispose of.

And now, with the real estate meltdown and sub-prime loan problems in the U.S., there just aren’t the number of cash-rich gringos these days who can be counted on to buy into the new developments. Loreto is cheaper than Cabo, but its not cheap.

All of these issues and much more are discussed in the Loreto book. This is a good resource for anyone interested in Mexico as a possible retirement choice. Loreto might change dramatically in the coming years…or it might not.

Ann Hazard Writes About Mexico

David Simmonds

 I just heard from our friend, Ann Hazard, who is in the La Paz area, where she has lived part-time for the past four years. Ann is a long-time Baja (and mainland) traveler and has written four books, two of which are Mexican cook books. Here is a nice synopsis of Ann and her work:

Author Bio:

Ann Hazard is passionate about all things Mexican. In addition to writing four books on Baja, she has published more than 150 articles about Mexico. Her work has appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune, The North County Times, The Coast News, The Baja Tourist Guide, Discover Baja, Discover Los Cabos Magazine, Los Cabos Magazine, Visit Los Cabos (in all hotel rooms 2008), Mexico File and on numerous Mexico websites. Originally from San Diego, Ann has lived part-time in Baja since 1993. She now resides in McCall, Idaho and spends the snowy months in La Paz, Baja California Sur.  http://bajamagic.com

ANN’S FOUR BAJA BOOKS

COOKING WITH BAJA MAGIC DOSPublished 2005Retail Price: $28.95ISBN: 09653223433Released in 2005, COOKING WTIH BAJA MAGIC DOS is a must have for all Baja Aficionados! All 175 recipes from the original, classic Baja cookbook have been updated and improved. There are 90 new recipes and stories about Ann and Terry’s adventures over the last eight years. The 80 pieces of all-new art by Janna Kinkade (cover), Gayle Hazard and Terry Hauswirth are inspiring and pure magic.  Ann says: “The original Cooking With Baja Magic was published in 1997 and reflected my life and travels up to that point. In the intervening years, I have had the opportunity to further explore this magnificent peninsula and meet some amazing people. In  2003, my husband Terry and I sold our houses in San Diego and La Bufadora and moved to Buena Vista, midway between La Paz and Cabo San Lucas on the Sea of Cortez. Since then, we have traveled extensively and learned much about our adopted country. The life here suits us perfectly. 

“I always felt more at home in Mexico than in the US and for years I pondered why. Now I know.  I now know that my heart is Mexican. Mi corazón es Mexicano. That’s why I am here and I believe that because I am in Baja, the experiences I share now in Baja Magic Dos are more authentic. I’ve also added 90 new recipes — some that I’ve created, many that I’ve discovered and several that were given to me by talented Baja chefs. There are lots more surprises too … more stories, all-new art, and more historical and culinary information. There are now 50 restaurant recipes from 31 Baja eateries and two from our favorite US Mexican restaurants.” New recipes from old favorites from the first Baja Magic include Tío Pablo’s in Los Barriles, Pancho’s in Cabo, Caffé Todos Santos and the Buena Vista Beach Resort. Eighteen of Baja’s hottest hotels, restaurants and bars are contributing for the first time here. They are: Hussongs and Taquería Mexico (Ensenada), Pueblo Bonito (Cabo), Posada la Poza and Hotel California (Todos Santos), El Chilar, Hotel Tropicana, Brisas del Mar and Buzzard’s (San Jose del Cabo), El Corral and Rancho Buena Vista (Buena Vista), Tacos Los Barriles (Los Barriles), Ray´s Place (Mulege), Isla Loreto (Loreto), Mr. Azucar´s (La Paz) and the Giggling Marlin (Bahía de los Sueños). The chef on the Spirit of Endeavor, a small cruise ship that sails between Cabo, La Paz and Loreto shared a recipe. My favorite stateside Mexican restaurants, Las Olas (in my former hometown of Cardiff, CA) and Chapala (in my favorite summer hangout, McCall, ID) also inspired recipes. 

Additionally, there are several new sections in Dos. They are: La Comida Mexicana, All About Chiles, Baja Wineries, Aguas Frescas, History of the Margarita, Mexican Cookies & Candies and A Few Parting Thoughts. Far superior to the first Baja Magic, Dos became an instant classic when it debuted in 2006. It is the authority on fiesta, Baja-style.

AGAVE SUNSETS

Published 2002

Retail price: $19.95

ISBN: 0-9653223-3-5
Fasten your seatbelt! Laugh until your sides ache. A collection of 50 treasured Baja tales, Agave Sunsets will transport you to magical places south of the border, introduce you to characters you’ll never forget and implant in you un corazón Mexicano—A real Mexican heart.  The stories traverse four generations of Baja adventures that are equally hilarious and heart-warming. It all began back in the 1890s with Ann’s grandfather, a notorious poker player who traveled with Erle Stanley Gardner—creator of Perry Mason. Later on, it was “Boys ‘n Beer in Baja,” and “Fishing for Those Little Bastards.”  Next, Ann regales you with 20 “Tales from La Bufadora,” including “Dirt Roads in the Dark,” “Torrid Tales from Teenage Summer Camp,” “How to Become a Five-Star Houseguest” and “What Do You Mean … He Lived in a Tree?”

 

Traveling Baja is all about the people, places and adventures along the way, and Ann dishes up 22 of those, including: “As the Palapa Turns, or Expatriated Americans Down East Cape Way,” “Baja’s Exotic Wine Country,” and “Following the Whale Trail.” Agave Sunsets is more than just the story of one woman’s lifelong love affair with Baja. It’s more than just a great read with great photos. Its appeal is universal; in that we all long for romance, joy and serendipity our lives. It brings Baja and its inhabitants—both Mexican and expatriate—to light, in a spirited, relaxed and often, hilarious way. Agave Sunsets erases the barriers between cultures and accurately depicts our “neighbors to the south” as the down-to-earth, loving and generous folks that they are. No other Baja book gives such an open, honest look into the Mexican heart. The stories are short, so the book is easy to pick up and put down. Finish it, and you’ll feel like one the family!

CARTWHEELS IN THE SAND: A Novel

Published 1999

Retail price: $14.95

ISBN: 0-9653223-2-7
A father dies unexpectedly and leaves his motor home to his daughter. Another woman lands a contract to write an unconventional Baja California guidebook … but she needs an RV and three traveling companions. Join Dana, Camille, Holly and Barb on their raucous, engrossing adventure.  Cartwheels in the Sand tells the story of an unlikely foursome who spend a month journeying down the magnificent peninsula in a ’78 motor home. By the time you’ve met these fictional “Bodacious Baja Babes,” you’ll be chomping at the bit to gather up your best buddies and head south! Set against one of the most dramatic backdrops on the planet, this is a powerful story about coming to terms with life at mid-life—a City Slickers for women. It’s also an accurate guidebook. Read it once for the story and a second time as you plan your trip. It even makes a great gift for people who don’t understand the lure of Mexico, or are uncomfortable outside a “first world” environment. These folks can take the journey vicariously. And … who knows? Some of them may even be converted to Baja Aficionados!

 

Aside from the fact that it’s a novel and accurate travel guide in one (which is unique), Cartwheels in the Sand features four women doing something that women don’t usually do without men. They take to the road in Mexico, of all places! Rest assured … these are not timid or dull women. As one reader aptly put it, reading Cartwheels in the Sand “…is like being a fly on the wall in the women’s locker room.”

There really isn’t a book like this one. It’s utterly unique. Cartwheels in the Sand is an accurate travel guide. It can be used to plan a trip down Baja. It’s also a novel in the City Slickers vein—but it’s about women, not men. These four women are traveling alone—in Baja. They are four very different, talented and outspoken women and they invite the reader to tag along on one heck of an adventure!

Ann’s books are available online at http://bajamagic.com, at http://amazon.com and http://bajabooksandmaps.com. They can be found in most hotel gift shops and bookstores throughout Baja California Sur.

COOKING WITH BAJA MAGIC—the original—OUT OF PRINT

Published 1997

Retail price: $21.95

ISBN: 0-9653223-1-9

How about dinner, under a palapa … next to the Sea of Cortez? Entice yourself with 175 recipes from all over Baja, three generations of riveting travel tales and Bob Bonn’s remarkable illustrations. Cooking With Baja Magic will tip your perspective to the south, lighten your heart and transform your outlook on life! This book contains 175 easy-to-prepare recipes in 15 categories, 20 from famous Baja restaurants. Try Confetti Dip Mardi Gras, Pancho’s Tortilla Soup from the Cabo restaurant, “The” Original Tijuana Caesar Salad, Bay of L.A. Lobster Tacos, Expatriate Pepper Steak and Citrus Flan Extraordinaire from Caffé Todos Santos. A cookbook, storybook and art book all in one, it showcases 22 whimsical, colorful illustrations by Laguna Beach, California artist, Bob Bonn. Author Ann Hazard, a third generation Baja Aficionada, guarantees that this book will tilt your perspective too the south and inject you with a lasting dose of Baja Magic!

Cooking With Baja Magic is a Baja classic as it has always been the perfect gift for adventure-loving cooks! It’s the most comprehensive cookbook on Baja out there. It’s a book readers will sit down with and devour, cover to cover … before even trying a recipe. Cooking With Baja Magic is full of entertaining travel tales from Ann Hazard’s family’s four generations of Baja adventures. Bob Bonn’s art is magical too, and really adds to the “fiesta” mood! Plus, since it’s out of print and there are only 80 left, it has become a collector’s item. Cooking With Baja Magic is all about “fiesta.” It’s totally upbeat and fun. It’s enjoyable to look at, it’s a great read and the recipes are remarkably uncomplicated and delicious.

BOOKS by ANN HAZARD

Published by RENEGADE ENTERPRISES





5422 Napa Street, San Diego, CA 92110

~ 619-298-1831and  P.O. Box 1207, McCall, ID 83638

~ 208-634-8509Website: http://bajamagic.com  Email: cookbaja@aol.com

 

A Great Colonial City Resource

by David Simmonds

Most Mexico travelers know about the better-known colonial towns of Mexico, many, but not all, built with silver-mining riches from the 16th to 18th centuries. Typically Spanish in style, some of the most popular are San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Taxco, Oaxaca, Puebla, Merida and Morelia. European architecture, religion and social systems were imported, while, unfortunately, much of the indigenous culture was literally buried and destroyed.

 Never-the-less, the magnificient well-preserved old towns provide a culturally rich history to the country that attracts visitors from around the world. What is less known are the thousands of historic towns that are not so well-known. These are the places that you would only find if you were driving around the country, veering off the toll-roads, or riding the second-class buses that go practically everywhere. This is the Mexico that so intrigued me on my first visits, and the Mexico that keeps me forever returning and searching for more.

Richard and Rosiland Perry have been exploring the back roads of Mexico since 1966 (beating me by 4 years) and have fashioned a life focused on cataloging their travels and discoveries. They have published several books quite unique from the standard guides, most notably two that I own, “Mexico’s Fortress Monasteries“, and “Blue Lakes and Silver Cities“, filled with line drawings by Richard depicting the architecture and people they encounter. I have searched, and there are no other books like this in publication. There are literally thousands of towns that were founded hundreds of years ago, cobble-stoned, built around maginificient churches that still anchor every town center. The Perrys have published several books that tell the story of many of these places. Learn more about these essential and valuable resources here http://www.colonial-mexico.com/index.html. You can also sign up for their email list and they will announce whenever they feature a new location on their web site.

Guacamole Dip: From Baja Tales of Love, Faith…and Magic

Press Release.   Recommended by Mexico Pemiere

ACCLAIMED BAJA AUTHOR HAS NEW BOOK

Daniel Reveles, author of three critically-acclaimed short-story collections, returns with another spicy dish in Guacamole Dip: From Baja…tales of love, faith—and magic. The beloved Tecate author has written some unusual stories in this collection, and added many new characters, too. But he also brings back a few old friends, like Treenie Contreras, Jack of All Trades, and the new book features many of the beloved, familiar settings—the plaza, La Fonda, the surrounding ranches.Born in Los Angeles to Mexican-born parents, Reveles has been in some part of the entertainment industry since he was seventeen—as a recording artist, songwriter, television producer, documentary film director, and disc jockey. He stumbled into the Baja California border town of Tecate nearly thirty years ago, and has lived there ever since.

His previous books include Enchiladas, Rice and Beans, Salsa and Chips and Tequila, Lemon, and Salt, which won a ForeWord magazine Book-of-the-Year Award, and won Reveles the coveted Theodore Geisel award for “Best of the Best” at the San Diego Book Awards in 2005. www.danielreveles.com , www.sunbeltpub.com

Book Review Mexico Chic: Hotels Haciendas Spas

Mexico Chic: Hotels Haciendas Spas

by Foo Mei Zee and Barbara Kastelein

Bolding Books: $25; 232 pp.

Reviewed by Gale Randall

If the notion of traveling independently around Mexico and staying at some of the country’s more charming and unusual boutique hotels and inns intrigues you, then Mexico Chic just may be the kind of book you’re looking for. Offering descriptions and photo displays of some 44 different properties, the book is organized around seven distinctive regions of Mexico: the Mexican Caribbean, Mayan region, central east and south highlands,the Pacifi c coast, Mexico City, the central western highlands, and the Sea of Cortez. Each geographical section is accompanied by an extensive introduction and photos highlighting that region’s distinctive characteristics. If you’re an old hand at traveling Mexico, many of the properties will be familiar to you, like Oaxaca’s venerable Camino Real, the Posada la Basilica in Patzcuaro, or Playa del Carmen’s Shangri-la Caribe. But many others are newcomers, such as Mexico City’s Habita and W hotels, several revived Yucatecan haciendas, and the boutique hotels of the Riviera Maya– Deseo, Maroma and Ceiba del Mar, for example, resorts designed in part, I suspect, as oases for refugees from Cancun.

I’m puzzled by some obvious omissions from this beautiful compendium, such as
the gorgeous Las Mananitas of the peacocks in Cuernavaca and the most intriguing of
the Yucatan haciendas, Katanchel. But the omission of Katanchel may have something
to do with the destruction wrought on that property by Hurricane Isidore in fall 2002. On
a tour of the haciendas in early 2003, I saw firsthand what Isidore had done to Katanchel,
but the hacienda is now back in operation and it would be a treat to visit. And, Katanchel has its own Mayan ruin.

I don’t believe one needs the travel budget of an oil sheik to plan a trip around some of these properties. I think it’s fun to alternate stays between more modest digs and then maybe splurge for one night at a higherend property, or, if that’s not feasible, at least plan a meal at such a place. If, for instance, I were to plan a trip to the Yucatan, I’d fly into Cancun, stay a few nights at beachside Shangri-la Caribe outside Playa del Carmen, and then move on to tour the ruins and haciendas of Yucatan State, stopping first at laid back and reasonable San Antonio Chalante, the horseback riding hacienda just outside the yellow city of Izamal, and then move on to Tixkokob, staying at either Hacienda San Jose Cholul or Katanchel, and ending my trip in Merida. Likewise, if I were to visit Mexico City for a few days, I’m not sure I’d bunk at either the Habita or W hotels featured in Mexico Chic, but rather my old favorite, the Calinda Geneve in the Zona Rosa, perhaps planning a day bus trip to Cuernavaca, where for sureI’d lunch at Las Mananitas or the newer Casa Tamayo Cuernavaca. I’ve never been to Puebla, but I can hardly wait to try out the idiosyncratic Meson Sacristia de Capuchinas or Meson Sacristia de la Compania, two antique-filled boutique hotels owned by the antique-dealing Espinosa family. It’s fun to dream.

Author Foo Mei Zee is the former editor of the Singapore-based magazine The Peak and a contributor to the Asian Wall Street Journal. Barbara Kastelein, a resident of Mexico City, has contributed to Conde Nast Traveler and has a column in the Miami Herald’s Mexican edition.