Archive | December, 2012

Living and Writing in Mexico – 2012 in review

31 Dec

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Walking Tours of Guanajuato – Available for download on, Barnes and, or

29 Dec
Download all Eight Mexican Colonial Cities Walking Tours

Download all Eight Mexican Colonial Cities Walking Tours


Walking Tours of San Miguel – Download on, Barnes and, or

28 Dec


Walking Tours of San Miguel de Allende

27 Dec

San Miguel med


In the last few years San Miguel has been given a makeover. The churches have been restored to their former glory. The electric, and cable TV wires have been put underground, in conduits along with the transformers, and all the poles have been taken down. The telephone wires (because of the underground moisture problem for communication cables) have almost all been run over the roof tops, out of sight. Every facade has been replastered and painted with a fresh coat of earth tone white-wash too. So if you haven’t been down in a few years, you will be impressed and delighted with the changes. So NOW is the time to come to beautiful San Miguel de Allende!

An Exceprt from my, “Walking Tours of San Miguel de Allende”.

Walking Tours of San Miguel de Allende
by William J. Conaway

Introduction to San Miguel
San Miguel de Allende was declared a National Monument by the Mexican government in 1928, and later the United Nations added the town to the list of International Treasures to be conserved.

There is a large foreign colony in San Miguel. The reasons most of them choose San Miguel vary from person to person, but the most important one is the arts. San Miguel’s traditional support for the arts may be traced back to 1781, when it contributed to the upkeep of an official academy of art in the capital. San Miguel became an art colony, for foreign residents, beginning around 1951. With the help of Americans Nell Fernández, Stirling Dickinson, and the G.I. Bill, the Instituto Allende opened its doors. Veterans, disabled or retired, poured in to study art and/or live in inexpensive post-war México. There’s more culture in San Miguel than in most large cities in the States.

Some like living here because of the climate. It never seems to get too hot or cold, too wet or dry. The average temperature is 64 degrees (F), and the average rainfall per year is 27 inches. The nights are cool enough to use a blanket, and the days warm up as the sun climbs. Eternal Spring!

Also, San Miguel has a unique charm of its own. The native-born residents don’t understand it any more than foreigners do, but it’s there. One of the things you can see and feel about this town is that it doesn’t change. You can leave it for as long as you wish, but when you return it’s almost like you never left. Even some of the same people can be sitting in the Jardín right where you left them! Sure, there’s more traffic, new restaurants, and different shops, the outlying colonias are much bigger, but the feel of the town is still there just as you remember.

Within about two blocks of the Jardín lies (not too surprisingly) a majority of San Miguel’s most famous historical homes and churches. Enjoy the extraordinary beauty of a colonial Mexican town, well preserved through the centuries.

Walking Tours – San Miguel de Allende

26 Dec
Walking Tours of Eight Mexican Colonial Cities!

Walking Tours of Eight Mexican Colonial Cities!

A Gringo Guide to Mexican History – the Perfect Gift!

25 Dec
Download a e-book gift today!, Barnes and, and too!

Download a e-book gift today!, Barnes and, and too!

A Gringo Guide to Mexican History – Another Excerpt

24 Dec

Mexican History Medium
An Exceprt from my, “Gringo Guide to Mexican History”.

During the 16th and 17th centuries little was known about the spread of disease and the need for sanitation. The streets were open sewers full of garbage, discarded clothes, dead dogs and cats, broken crockery, and any other disgusting thing that came to hand, all thrown down from the windows of the houses on either side. The masters of the houses lived on the upper floors. The first floor was for animals and servants!

It wasn’t until the 18th century that they began to illuminate the streets and plazas at night. When forced to leave their homes in the dark, the nobles were preceded by their imported Negro slaves carrying flaming torches. Many a poorer resident, coming home in the dark, found himself drenched with unspeakable filth thrown out of an upper story window. (And they tell me México City had no public illumination until 1970!)

The plazas were open air markets full of pig stys, chicken coops, sheep and goat pens, and cows waiting to be milked. There were slaughter houses with no regard paid to the rotting blood that spilled on the paving stones.
Even though the atmosphere was very pious, the private lives of the city’s citizens were not. Prostitution and every other vice flourished, and consciences were eased with large donations to the Church.

Then in the 18th century the colonial cities changed morally and materially. Filthy canals were filled in, streets were paved, public bathrooms were built, water hydrants were provided for the citizens, streets were named and houses numbered, free schools were instituted, bell-ringing was further limited, and public nudity was abolished.

Streetlights were ordered to be provided by the inhabitants of the houses in their doorways and windows. By the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries, city police were providing protection for the citizens. In 1722, the first national newspaper was published, and in 1805, the first daily emerged.

Public libraries were opened and the intellectual life of the great city began in earnest, with conversations and discussions in the first cafes that opened along the boulevards.

A Gringo Guide to Mexican History – The Perfect Gift

22 Dec
Download the gift version today!

Download the gift version today!

A Gringo Guide to Mexican History – an Excerpt

21 Dec

Mexican History Medium

An Excerpt from my “Gringo Guide to Mexican History”.


The Religious Conquest of Mexico
In 1529, Don Juan de Zumárraga, first Bishop and Archbishop of México, wrtoe in a report to the King:

“We are very busy with our continuous and great work in the conversion of the infidels of whom…over a million people have been baptized, five hundred temples of idols have been razed to the ground and over 20,000 images of devils that they adored have been broken to pieces and burned…And…the infidels of this city of México, who in former times had the custom of sacrificing each year over 20,000 human hearts to their idols, now make their offerings to God instead of to the devils…. Many of these children, and others who are older, know how to read, write, sing, and sound the proper pitches for singing…. They watch with extreme care to see where their parents hide their idols, and then they steal them and faithfully bring them to our friars. For doing this, some have been cruelly slain by their own parents, but they live crowned in glory with Christ…. Each one of our monasteries has next to it a house in which children are taught and where there is a school, a dormitory, a dining hall and a chapel for devotion…. Blessed be the Lord for everything….”

(You read it, in five short years they had baptized over a million people. The friars had destroyed 500 temples of idols, and 20,000 images of idols!)
Also among the missionaries first chores was to study the native languages and dialects and to compile vocabulary lists and other linguistic guides, and finally, dictionaries to aid them in teaching the natives the elements of faith, preparing them for baptism. And they baptized hundreds of thousands of the Indians they encountered during their lifetimes. They taught the people how to live better, helped them learn trades, and improved their artistic abilities.

These friars walked about barefoot with only their heavy woolen habits to cover them. They slept on the ground and begged for food in the Indian markets, sometimes even eating tortillas with whatever fruits and berries they could gather. The robes they brought with them from Spain were the only clothes they possessed and were soon worn out. (Clothing was a big problem for everyone in those days.) A legend persists to this day:

Don Martín, an Indian Cacique, Chieftan, of the village of Guacachula, seeing the disgraceful condition of his friars robes, sent several skilled artisans out to work for a newly arrived Spaniard who was weaving cloth on his imported looms and selling all he could produce. These spies were able to learn the trade in a short time and carefully took measurements of all the parts of the looms they worked on. Returning to the village they built their own looms and were soon producing sackcloth for the friars as well as for themselves.

The obvious difference between the humble friars and the conquistadores who built themselves fine homes and gorged themselves with all the best, was all too obvious to the poor Indians.

A Gringo Guide to Mexican History – The Perfect Gift!

20 Dec
U.S. sailors, Veracruz, 1914

U.S. sailors, Veracruz, 1914

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