Saturday, December 18, 2010

CHRISTMAS STOCKING-STUFFER: “The People’s Guide to Mexico”

I’m going to take a one-day hiatus from writing about Mexican baseball to plug a book that doesn’t even mention sports. Still, I can’t recommend “The People’s Guide to Mexico” by Carl Franz highly enough.

Carl (along with mate Lorena Havens and late pal Steve Rogers) put out the first “People’s Guide” in 1972 and the 13th edition was released in 2006. Yes, it’s a travel guide for Mexico but more spiritually in tune with John Steinbeck and William Least Heat Moon than Eugene Fodor or Arthur Frommer. This is not a book for people who want to view Mexico from a five-star restaurant in a gringo enclave resort…it’s for those who wish to experience Mexico as it really is at the ground level. The culture truly comes alive in its pages.

The “People’s Guide” is nearly 600 pages long with 22 chapters ranging from accommodations and shopping to negotiating through red tape and retiring in Mexico. It’s very practical for people who are either on a budget or simply want to better understand the USA’s neighbors to the south. You’ll learn that the majority of people in Mexico are warm and embracing of people who make an effort to meet them halfway, and you’ll read personal stories about the adventures of Carl, Lorena and Steve that will have you laughing long after you’ve put the book down. Of all my own books on Mexico, this is the most indispensible one.

You can find older copies on Amazon or eBay for as little as a dollar (or simply check out Carl's website at http://www.peoplesguide.com/), but its value transcends its price. Even if you never visit Mexico, you should buy this book…it’s that good.