Category Archives: Inspirational Writers in Mexico

A few words from Erma Note and the Giveaway Winner Announcement

Last week I told you about the signed book giveaway of Travels with Grace through rafflecopter. The winner is Cassandra Darensbourg! Congratulations Cassandra! Please contact me to make arrangements for your book delivery. A big thank you goes out to everyone who participated as well!

Erma Note is the author of our giveaway prize, Travels with Grace. Here’s what she has to say about her life in Mexico.I’m Erma Note. I am originally from the suburbs of Chicago, but I have been living in Mexico since 2003. I currently reside in Mexico due to job relocation.

I originally came to Mexico for a year to volunteer with an orphanage in Morelos State, Mexico. I ended up staying, getting married, and having my children in Mexico. My 23-year-old self never foresaw spending more than a year in Mexico, and I am often homesick for my family and friends. But I see that there is a lot of good in raising my children in Mexico. I have also met such a diverse array of interesting people in my years here, and my many friends and acquaintances have subsequently led to a variety of interesting connections.

I realized the other day while listening to the podcast “Curious City” (from WBEZ) that I am inherently a Chicagoan. While listening to the episode “To Chicago, With Love: What Do Transplants Love about the City?” I realized that I truly miss the environment I grew up in. I am still that person. But I have grown and evolved. So I don’t think my belief system has changed. I totally own who I am, and my family and friends from home helped shape me. But I have become worldlier since leaving the safe confines of the North Shore. Is that for better or for worse? That is a hard thing to determine. I know I would have always wondered “what if” had I not taken a leap of faith. I try not to be a “what if” kind of person if I can help it.

I miss fireflies in the summer and the Fourth of July. I miss seeing tulips popping up sporadically in my yard during the first days of spring, our magnolia tree in the front yard, and the view of Lake Michigan. I miss being able to go to family and friend events such as baptisms, weddings, first communions, graduations, and funerals. I miss having grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles nearby to watch my children grow (as was my experience with my extended family).

I think I am warier. I am always alert. I never rest on my laurels. I am constantly reinventing myself because so many dear friends leave every year. I think I am pretty good at keeping in touch thanks to social media. I am constantly meeting new, awesome friends that I would never have bumped into by staying in one corner of the world my whole life. I do NOT consider myself “an expat.” But I do consider myself a foreigner. I am a foreigner raising third culture children in Mexico. It’s complicated. But I know I am not the only one, and there are so many people bumping around the earth, trying to fit in. That is one reason I admin the Facebook group Mexico City Moms. Our goal is to help other people with families in Mexico adjust to the culture clash that often accompanies moving to a foreign culture.

I do not find it important to be a people-pleaser. I am honest and loyal, and I expect honesty and loyalty. I no longer have the capacity to deal with superficial people. I would rather have five close friends than twenty fake acquaintances. Fortunately, I think I have a lot of great friends. I hope they also think I am a good friend.

Due to job changes, we have lived in five cities over the last sixteen years. Nine of those years were in Mexico City, where all of my children were born. I got comfortable. Then we got moved again. Starting again is never easy. But I have managed to make friends everywhere I go, and I strive to make sure that my family is happy and functioning despite the upheaval.

It is a matter of when, not if, we move again. I am not great with transition. I am not a light packer or a minimalist. I live with a smidgen of dread and anxiety every day as such. I continuously research real estate prices while I peruse my emails. I am always hoping that somehow, somewhere, my kids will have a chance to grow up in one place, ideally the Midwest of the U.S. and near extended family. It is hard to be happy where you are when you’re wondering when you won’t be there anymore while wishing you were at home, wherever THAT IS at this point, and while at the same time feeling at home where you are.

My kids make me never give up. My children are my proudest accomplishment. I am also very proud of publishing my book and getting my message out to the world.

Certainly one of the most defining moments of my life was when I chose to come to Mexico. I felt that if I didn’t say “yes” right then and there, I would always wonder “what if.”

If I have free time, I enjoy shopping for handicrafts and visiting cultural sites such as pyramids and museums.

While I am not the main breadwinner of the family, I am an editor and publishing consultant. I also do author events for my book “Travels with Grace.” I would like to publish a Spanish edition of “Travels with Grace” sometime soon.travels with grace

You can find Travels with Grace by Erma Note at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Guest Blogger Adventures, Inspirational Writers in Mexico

Small Business in Mexico–SMA Walking Tours by Joseph Toone

Today’s featured business is Joseph Toone Tours run by Joseph Toone, naturally.  Not only does he provide walking tours of San Miguel de Allende, but has done extensive research on customs of the area and compiled them into several books.  He’s definitely someone to look up your next trip to SMA.

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How did you end up in Mexico?
Grace of God.  Came down ten years ago with 3 kids in HS, bought a house the first time here and moved here.  Best move ever!

Where do you live now?
San Miguel de Allende, Gto.

Have you experienced any defining moments since settling in Mexico?
Many and they all started with a grandmother in my volunteer English class asking me to be her danzon partner despite not speaking Spanish (then) or knowing how to dance. That led to my introduction to Mexican history and culture by performing at festivals. That led to writing articles which led to now being TripAdvisor’s number one private guide for my town and Amazon’s best selling author on Mexican History and Travel for a series of books called San Miguel de Allende’s Secrets.

Would you say that you changed?
Yes.  More patient and understanding of faith’s role on history and culture.  Less controlling and worried about the future.

When did you get started?
3 years ago

What prompted your business choice?
A need to express to foreigners Mexican history, faith and culture to better understand what is going on around them during their stay.

How do manage?
My kids are grown and gone so the business is just me.  Business is a bit grand of term. Tours supply the money to allow me to print books based on articles I’ve written for both local press and international publications.  I sold my high tech company providing the income for me to live off investments in Mexican companies.  I consider the tours and writing a time consuming and fun hobby explaining the indigenous and Spanish roots to modern traditions.

What do you offer?
Top rated tours and bestselling books on central Mexico.

Is your business local or are your products/services available online?
Books are for sale on Amazon but tours are local.



San Miguel de Allende Secrets: History and Culture with Virgins, Barbies and Transgender Saints


San Miguel de Allende Secrets: Easter with Plagues, Prison, Piñatas and Popsicles


San Miguel de Allende Secrets: Day of the Dead with Skeletons, Witches and Spirit Dogs


San Miguel de Allende Secrets: Christmas with St. Nick’s Nudes, Devils and Jesus’ Doppelganger

How can you be reached?
Joseph Toone Tours

Joseph Toone

Catholic SMA

History and Culture Walking Tours




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Filed under Inspirational Writers in Mexico, Small Business in Mexico, Uncategorized

Blog About Mexico Worth Reading–Ventanas Mexico

Kerry Baker is a blogger and author. She blogs at Ventanas Mexico: Resources for Full- or Part-time Life in Mexico.  Her published works include Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online and If Only I Had a Place: The Aspiring Expat’s Guide to Renting Luxuriously in Mexico for Less.
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What brought you to Mexico? The U.S. has become so much a “gig economy.” After moving to Denver in 2014, I struggled finding anything other than contract work every now and then. I moved to Mexico to save money while I figured out what my next step would be.

After I made friends here, learned Spanish and realized how much better life was in Mexico for a person of average means, I began to see that Mexico could be an answer for many people like me, people with some resources but who are scared to death by what they see in the U.S today, both in terms of the healthcare crisis and the demoralizing political climate.

I truly believe for some people, Mexico could make the difference between a healthy, happy retirement and one where you are just surviving day to day. With my blog, I wanted to address some common, even silly misconceptions. For example, I spoke with a person yesterday that couldn’t believe Mexico had Uber!

What was the inspiration for your blog name?  What a mistake that was!  Ventanas means “Windows” in Spanish, and I liked the thought of the website being a window to see how life really was in Mexico. Big mistake. I didn’t know anything about SEO.  

I used to be a professional fundraiser and in a fundraising campaign, you have to make some of your most important decision when you have the least knowledge, at the beginning. Having a business is like that too.

What area of Mexico and topics does your blog primarily focus on? Comparisons. Comparisons between the U.S. and Mexico in housing, cost of living, safety, healthcare, language, and relationships, especially friendships with Mexicans because I find the dynamics very different from my friendships at home.

Why do you blog? At times, I write for me, as my SEO for those blogs clearly shows! I also write for my intended audience, things I wanted to know before coming here that had nothing to do with getting a visa temporal or the water. I wanted to know my life would be good here, that I’d be able to duplicate aspects of my life that were important to me in the U.S

What is your favorite blog post?   Just like being a filmmaker, your favorite is never the most commercially successful. The Best Date Night Songs in Spanish.” I love Spanish language music. I love to tell stories. Being able to actually share songs via links in the post and get a little personal by telling a relationship story made it my favorite.

What has been the most difficult for you to blog about?  I don’t think I’d feel pressured to write about anything that I felt was difficult to blog about. People have strong beliefs about safety in Mexico that I feel I need to debunk, although it’s like talking in the wind most times. Both countries are safe. Both countries are dangerous, just in different ways.

What has been the best experience you’ve had in Mexico?  My best experience was making my first Mexican friend. What I learned is that when you want to make new friends, wherever you are, you should pick one or two “targets” and focus your entire being on them.

That means showing up wherever and whenever you think they might be (even when they’re not).  Ultimately, particularly in Mexico where social circles and families run so deep, 1-2 good friends and those they know can keep you pretty busy.

What has been the worst experience you’ve had in Mexico?  I had emergency surgery in Mexico. It’s too much to go into here, but I fully relate it in a blog of mine.

What advice do you have for those planning to move or travel to Mexico? That’s very broad!  “Learn the language,” is a pretty safe bet. I started learning at 55 and am fairly fluent. It can be done. Without it, your experience will be half as fulfilling as it could be. Still good, maybe even great, but half.

If you are no longer in Mexico, do you plan on returning?  I spend the majority of my year there.

If you are currently in Mexico how long do you plan on remaining? I will most likely retire in Mexico.

Where do you see your blog going? My site has become more of a book promotion site for my two books, If Only I Had a Place: The Aspiring Expat’s Guide to Renting Luxuriously in Mexico for Less a book on renting luxuriously for less in Mexico, and  Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online which I use every day myself to improve my language skills.

if i only had a place

Anyone considering Mexico will need to live in their target town at least for six months. Renting in Mexico is very different. On top of that, those relationships you make the first six months can set the tone of your whole experience.

I had the good fortune that my first roommate in Mexico was a Canadian property manager with 12 years experience in Mexico. She taught me dangers, as well as sharing the more delicate culturally-based differences in renting in Mexico. My experiences over the following four years added to what she shared with me.

I would never rent for six months in Mexico without having someone I trust looking it over first (I’m not talking about Airbnb rentals and the like. Those are probably trustworthy but too expensive for a six-month period).

The book has a listing of rental concierges I’ve recruited. Almost all have an online presence. People “on the ground” like I had with Elise was key to my sanity in the first few years.

When I finished the book, I was concerned about information not applying all over Mexico. The rental concierges were able to confirm certain information before it went to print.  

learning spanish online

My book on learning Spanish is my real first love though.  Most people give up learning Spanish because they get bogged down with one program, like Rosetta Stone, and get bored.

If you use different tools every day, that doesn’t happen. The book’s interactive links take you to the best sites and features on the web. Lots of different sites and tools, most of which you’d never find without doing what I did, which was spend six months researching over 300 language learning sites.

A student can translate music, do flashcards, a little reading, a podcast, in a single one hour period. That’s what my sessions are like.

Where can you be found?  Ventanas Mexico has a Facebook page with a little more serious content, like articles related to the U.S. Healthcare crisis. I’m also on Pinterest with a “Recipes That Translate” board, language tips and photos from the most popular expat areas.

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Filed under Blogs about Mexico Worth Reading, Inspirational Writers in Mexico