Tag Archives: Mexico

Natural Healing — Manzanilla


Matricaria chamomilla (German Chamomile) has long been used to treat menstrual cramps. In fact, Matricaria comes from the Latin word for womb (matriz). It is an herb that didn’t originate in Mexico but has become a fast favorite since it was brought from Europe by the Spanish in the 1500s.

In Spanish, manzana means “apple,” so it’s only natural that chamomile (which also means apple), is called “little apple” in Mexico, not for its appearance but its apple-like scent.

Manzanilla is digestive, sedative, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic. Breast pain associated with premenstrual syndrome (mastalgia) has been effectively treated with regular doses of chamomile extract. To make a traditional Mexican PMS tea, use 10 grams of manzanilla (flowers and leaves) for every half liter 3 times a day as needed.

Matricaria chamomilla has antifungal properties as well. To treat a yeast infection in the Mexican way, use 20 grams of flowers for every half liter of water for a vaginal wash. Allow to the infusion to steep for 15 minutes before use.

Manzanilla is given to laboring mothers as well as prescribed after delivery in Mexico. Some midwives (parteras) use an ointment from manzanilla leaves and onions fried in manteca (lard) to lessen labor pains. For postpartum discomfort, an infusion of canela (cinnamon) rosa de castilla (Rosa gallica) and manzanilla is made from equal parts of each herb.

Studies have shown that manzanilla has been helpful for women in returning to regular digestive patterns after a cesarean section. It has also been used successfully to treat parasitic infections of the stomach.

Manzanilla is often used to treat eye infections. To make an eyewash, add a pinch of salt before boiling the herb. Make sure the infusion is freshly made for each application. Although care should be taken with topical application. Some people have a sensitivity to manzanilla on the skin. Applying it to the skin may cause a rash or allergic reaction.

Colicky babies are often given a weak tea made with manzanilla in Mexico. Young children are given manzanilla to help with dehydration caused by diarrhea. The Tzeltal Maya of Chiapas, Mexico make a manzanilla tea with an orange and lime leaf added to improve the drinker’s mood.

Additionally, it has anticancer properties and can be used in the treatment of lung cancer. The chamomile flower heads and leaves have antioxidant properties. This pretty little flower has been shown to be memory enhancing and useful in the prevention of cell death in the hippocampal region of the brain too.

Apparently, regular ingestion of manzanilla will help you live longer if you a woman according to one study, so bottoms up ladies.

The mood enhancing tea recipe, with manzanilla, orange and lime leaf, sounded so delicious, I decided to make my own cup. And it was.

De virgen a virgen, recoge la manzanilla para cuando te duela la tripa.jpg


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Filed under Health, Mexican Food and Drink, Natural Healing

A to Z Blogs About Mexico–VidaMaz

Dianne Hofner Saphiere and her husband Greg Webb are the authors of VidaMaz about their family life in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, México.  It’s an excellent resource for those planning on visiting or moving to the area.  Be sure to check it out!

vidamaz header

Before we were married, we promised to raise our son overseas, so that he could grow up thinking of himself as a global citizen, be fluent in a second language, and know how it feels to be an immigrant minority. A year before he was to leave primary school and start middle school, we made the decision to relocate. For the next year, we had a tutor come in to teach us Spanish twice/week, and we began getting rid of everything extra in our home—major downsizing.

Our family blog is VidaMaz, because it’s all about our life in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico.

We live in Mazatlán, on the west coast of Mexico, so our blog primarily focuses on this area: what’s going on in town, the joys of daily life, nearby road trips that are worthwhile, cultural tidbits. We love to travel, however, so you’ll find posts about Copper Canyon, Zacatecas, Oaxaca, Michoacán, or even Venice or Sophia. We’ve had lots of posts about raising kids here, but our son is now in university, so that phase is pretty much past. I am a photographer, and we often share what my lens has captured. We love knowing how our posts have helped people over the years, whether it’s informing their decision about moving or where to take a trip on the weekend. It’s a joy to meet them when they visit or move here.

We blog for pleasure, and to help other expats. Our site started to help family and friends stay in touch, but it was quickly adopted by our local community as a place to find in-depth stories and information. We write mostly for our expats in our area, but we are read by many locals who use VidaMaz to practice their English and learn about the interests of expats. 

The blog has very much evolved over the years because what we see as exciting, new and interesting has changed. I imagine that trend will continue. We are blessed with a community of great local and expat friends, and I’ve noticed that we are often asked to take on a leadership role, or at least the role of “voice” or communicator, between the two. We do the blog to share what life is like here, to help others, and because we enjoy it. We don’t make money at it, so we don’t want it to become an obligation in any way; we want it to stay joyful, which so far it has.

We’ve posted 450 times since we started blogging in late 2008. Nowadays we can average 27,000 views per month, so a favorite post is very difficult. Our most-read post was written when the Baluarte Bridge first opened, connecting the states of Durango and Sinaloa.

Our second most popular post was about our local merchant marine academy, Latin America’s oldest, where loads of our son’s friends go to school.

I really enjoyed writing about our local, incredible watchmaker.

The most difficult topic to blog about was when our friend was kidnapped and murdered, and we posted to help the efforts to find him. It was heartbreaking, community leaders and expats had nerves frayed… just a very stressful time. We did our best to be helpful, but balancing what the family wanted with what the police advised and what our readers asked for with what we could do was very tough.

Our best experience was raising our son here. At 12 years old he did NOT want to move! On our one-year anniversary, we woke him for school and he told us, “One year since the best decision of our lives.” He struggled for months learning enough Spanish to keep up with school work. Then, about six months in, he went to bed one night, and it was as if a lightbulb turned on. From then on he could handle his schoolwork. Friendships were challenging, also, as people are very friendly, but manners and customs are different. It takes getting used to. He was called “gringo” by his friends for a long time and still is by some. Living here has taught him mental and emotional flexibility. It’s taught him to bridge two worlds, to find the best in situations, to create constructive paths forward. I’m eternally grateful to Mexico, our family and friends for helping make that happen, and wouldn’t trade it for anything.


If I’m honest the worst experiece I’ve had in Mexico has been the deaths of several friends due to violence/extortion. It’s heartbreaking. Other than that, not much. When we go through culture shock, which happens cyclically as you get to know people more deeply, you can have days that you feel haven’t gone well. Perhaps our most difficult challenge was during MotoWeek parade, when a motorcycle crashed, jumped the curb, and hit my husband, breaking his leg in two places. The bone healed fine, but the nerves took over a year to heal, which was hard because he’s a runner. It was a horrible experience due to the injury and sidelining of any athletics, but also because the event organizers and the city officials would do nothing to help us.

Mexico is our home. We are all permanent residents and plan to live out our lives here if possible.


If you are considering moving to Mexico–Do it! Life is an adventure, a “Carnaval,” as they say here. Make the most of it! When you move here, remember you are in someone else’s home. The locals do things differently from, not worse than, what you are used to. Learn to discover the joy, the parts that are better, to savor them. Challenge yourself to adapt to your new surroundings, and discover parts of yourself you never knew you had.

I can be found at:




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Filed under Blogs about Mexico Worth Reading, Guest Blogger Adventures

Playing Tourist–Patzcuaro, Michoacan


Ex-monastery of San Agustin in Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, Mexico

Patzcuaro, Michoacan is yet another Pueblo Mágico within easy driving distance from La Yacata, so there was nothing to be done but go. Its original name was Tzacapu-Hamúcutin-Pásquaro which roughly translates as Donde están las piedras (los dioses) a la entrada de donde se hace la negrura (where the stones of the gods are at the entrance to where they make the blackness) which sounds ominous. A better English translation would be ‘The entrance to the gates/entrance of Paradise’ or some such idea. The indigenous of the area held the belief that lakes were portals to the otherworld, so it comes as no surprise that there is a lake just outside of Patzcuaro proper.


Fountain in the center of Patzcuaro, Michoacan in honor of Bishop Vasco de Quiroga.

The Purépechas founded the town sometime before 1300 mostly as a religious center. The Spanish arrived in 1522, and the town remained a religious center with a very small population until about 1539 when the bishop Vasco de Quiroga dedicated himself to the repopulation and revitalization of the area. He was well received by the native people, even earning the nickname Tata Vasco.

In 1776, the indigenous of the area staged a revolution which was put down in 1777. In 1886, the railroad Morelia-Pátzcuaro was finished, and in 1899, Patzcuaro had its first electric lights. That amazes me since La Yacata is still waiting for electricity in 2016!


Since then, it has been a popular tourist area, known for its pottery and basketry. It really is a beautiful little town, done up in the red and white style, with cobblestone streets, much like Cuitzeo.

Our underlying reason for visiting Patzcuaro was my quest for a foot-pedaled sewing machine. Someone told me that these could be found there. So there we went. The road was clearly marked, unlike our trip to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary and we were able to take the libre (free) road the entire way.

There happened to be a tianguis (flea market) in the centro (downtown), but there wasn’t much of interest for us. Most vendors were hawking new toys and boxes of cookies for Los Santos Reyes. We did enjoy some gorditas de nata and fresas con crema (strawberries with whip cream).

Around la plaza, we noticed that there were a number of American-styled coffee houses instead of the more typical taco stands. It really smelled heavenly but was pricey, so we opted not to buy any. In line with the town’s tourist popularity, there were quite a number of gringos (white English speaking people) enjoying their cups of joe, playing chess or reading. The stores were chocked full of delightful artesenia (arts and crafts) but at prices that were not accessible to the average Mexican or to us, for that matter.

cam04112.jpgWandering around town, we came across the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Salud, built on a Purépecha/Tarasco pyramid platform. Notice the sign by the fence warns against tieing up your horses or leaning against it. I didn’t see much in the way of horses for that to be a current problem. There, outside the Basilica, vendors were selling prayer cards, rosaries, statues and peyote/marijuana cream for arthritis. Nuestra Señora de la Salud seems to be the same virgin found in Soledad, so I expect pilgrimages are made here as well to petition her curative powers. Tata Vasco’s remains are also housed within the Basilica.

We finally found the Singer Sewing store, and they had a foot-pedaled machine on display. However, the elderly owner would not sell it to me because she said it was a piece of crap, China made rather than hecho in Mexico (made in Mexico). My son pointed out that was just as well since if we did buy the machine, how would we get it in Myrtle (the VW bug) and back home? Good point.


We stopped at a yonke (junk yard) and picked up some pieces for the revitalization of Myrtle and had a late lunch at Las Jacarandas just outside of Cuitzeo. An excellent day trip if rather uneventful.




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Filed under Mexican Cultural Stories, Religion, Tourist Sites in Mexico



Since the last negative response of the community members of La Yacata, the mesa directiva (community board) has been taking a hiatus from all work projects. We continue to register owners and issue new property certificates and answer questions when folks show up at our doors, but any and all community planning has been put on hold.

It’s time to get back on that pony, though.

Those of you who have been following our little revolution in La Yacata now that our current situation is bleak. Residents and would-be residents have lost hope. La Yacata has once again been abandoned. Construction and dreams have been deferred–until such time as there is electricity. So, it’s time to figure out just how electricity can be obtained.

Recently, I have been investigating solar power options for our home. It hasn’t been easy. I know so little about the process that I’ve had to flounder about a bit in my search for information. Well, I finally found someone willing to take the time to answer my questions and analyze our particular situation. A big hooray for Frank at Frank O’Grady Solar for that!

Based on the information that I have gleaned, it is our goal to have a basic solar powered setup in our home before the end of 2016. With a functioning setup, we would be able to educate the current residents about their options with this type of electricity.

The issue that remains is the cost of a system, $5,000 USD and up, depending on the quality and capacity of the setup. As you know, nearly all of our community members are campesinos (farmers) and with the cost of living as it is, are barely making enough to survive day to day. Many of our older community members have already transferred ownership of their properties in La Yacata to their children and grandchildren, in the hopes that their investment will pay off, not in their lifetime, but in their children’s lifetimes. Really, it’s a sad commentary about the speed of progress in our area.

It is my intent, therefore, to set up a fund for the community that would enable residents to install a solar powered system and live more comfortably in La Yacata now, not at some distant future date. The fund would be available to community members already living in La Yacata first since their need is more pressing, but then would be opened to those who agree to take up residence. The recipients would be able to arrange a flexible and extended payback schedule so that other community members would be able to make use of the funds.

Oh, don’t worry about those less than savory neighbors. I’ve become quite an expert during my time as treasurer for La Yacata on the use of the pagare (promissory notes)and the Ministerio Publico just in case one of our screened and approved beneficiaries decide they don’t need to repay so that others can benefit.

Here’s where you can help. When making out your Christmas list this year, why not add La Yacata? When figuring out your charity donations for the end of the year tax credit, why not consider La Yacata?

But, you might ask yourself (or me) why should I donate?

There really isn’t any reason why you should. After all, it’s a dog eat dog world out there and it’s important to look out for your own, not some strangers thousands of miles away. However, if you do decide to donate, even a little bit, the residents of La Yacata that this program would benefit, including my family, would be ever so appreciative.


for personal reasons–

**in memory of my mother-in-law who died before her dream of electricity was realized

**so that my son doesn’t need to light a candle to continue his studies

**to eliminate the trip to town my father-in-law makes on his bicycle to charge his phone

**to make up for those care packages you never did around to mailing

**because you know me personally and are convinced of my integrity and determination and furthermore know I would never ask if I could do it myself


for public reasons–

**to help create an environmentally-friendly self-sustainable community

**to make a political statement

**to reduce the high incidence of night-time theft in La Yacata

**for the families that continue to pay rent, year after year, instead of investing in the future

**just because it’s a good thing to do

So now that I’ve given you a few reasons to donate, here’s how it works.

I’ve set up a fundraising account at Generosity by Indiegogo. If you haven’t heard of Generosity, it’s a fundraising community for personal and social causes. You’ll be able to see other worthy causes at this site as well, in case you feel like giving even more this holiday season.

Update:  After a year of inactivity, I have deleted the fundraiser.  

Please share this information as far and as wide as possible.  Locally we are at a standstill.  Perhaps globally we can advance.



Filed under Electricity issues, La Yacata Revolution