Reviews of my favorite books written by expatriates, journalists, and diplomats on what it's really like to live abroad

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Book Review: On Mexican Time by Tony Cohan

I suspect this bestseller from 2000 is the reason why real estate sales in the hilltop town of San Miguel Mexico shot sharply upwards a few years back. Now you can't swing a dead cat downtown without hitting a well-heeled gringo.

I love it anyway. I can't help it - I'm a sucker for foreign real estate porn. You know, a tourist walks through an old town someplace suitably exotic with a more relaxed lifestyle than America. He or she spots a crumbling old house or villa, falls in love, buys it and turns their life upside down. Then follow amusing stories of local craftsmen and carpenters with larger than life characters who never show up when they promise they will, but somehow the work gets done. And the final house is... magnificent. All the friends back home who said you were crazy to move, suddenly are raging with jealousy, and eagerly signing up to come down for vacations.

Author Tony Cohan is a professional novelist, not just a hobby author, so the text is richer and more poetic than typical new-life-abroad books. He's also truly interested in real life in Mexico, not in gringo ghettos, and reaches out to make friends with native neighbors and other locals.

You'll like this book if:

- You want to learn about the inland culture and lifestyle of Mexico, beyond the beaches.

- You appreciate skilled, thoughtful writing.

- You dream of renovating a gorgeous old house.

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