The People's Guide To Mexico
Carl's Mexico Notebook

Archive Issue for 15 June 2001

Return to the current issue of Carl's Mexico Notebook

Read more .... complete index of Notebook back issues

Cell phone coverage, Biking, Living Above Sea Level

Lee wrote us with three queries:

1- do all Mexican cell phones work equally well (dual mode, Tri-mode)? If one living in Mexico opted for a cell phone in lieu of a landline phone, would there be coverage in all cities?

2- I've seen almost no mention on bicycling in Mexico -- is there a reason?

3- Is there any adaptation difficulty for sea level gringos opting for Mexico's colonial cities, at around 6000'?

Carl replies: Lee, I have 2.5 answers to your 3 queries:

Cell phones: Good question, and one I ought to be able to answer more thoroughly, but... Lorena and I just bought our first cell phone a few days ago, so I don't know the difference between dual and tri-mode. According to the microscopic print on the side of the phone, ours is an Ericsson A1228dsi. The manual says, "dual mode and triple band for TDMA systems".

As for coverage in all cities, I'm going to risk saying "yes", at least if you buy a Telmex cell-contract or phone. (Our phone cost about $110 and included $110 worth of calls (1000 pesos). We don't have a monthly charge, but will buy cell phone cards when the initial credit runs out.

By the way, cell phones are big in Mexico. Many people who couldn't afford a regular phone, or couldn't bear the long wait to have one installed, have purchased cell phones. Competition is heating up, but as far as I know Telmex is the only company that presently has country-wide coverage (at least in the cities and along major highways).

Bicycling: There's a book on bicycling in Mexico, but I've not seen it myself. In fact, it may be out of print by now, but I think it would be worth chasing down. Bikes are a major means of transportation here, and biking competitions and rallies are very, very common. As for why there's little info on this on the internet, "quien sabe?"

If you can read or puzzle out Spanish, I believe I can come up with some Mexican biking websites. Let me know....

(later)... I tracked the book down at and notice that there's a used copy available for just $9. Here's the link: Bicycling In Mexico

Adjusting to altitude: Lorena and I are both born & raised at sea-level. We haven't had any trouble adapting to the "high life" here at 5,000' and above. Take it easy for the first week or two, and you should be just fine.

Xalapa, Veracruz: Information & photographs

Carl & Lorena:

My wife and I want to return to Mazatlan, but are torn to see the East side of Mexico, specifically the Veracruz area. I find little web help, my Fodor's is slight too.... We are somewhat limited by time and certainly cash, but are modest travellers that like to visit over Christmas week (this year 12/23-12/30/01). We both have this break planned, it's Mexico for sure. Our Spanish is limited... What do you say re: Veracruz? Other suggestions that will give us the puebla and an ocean?

Thank you! Steve and Julie Livingston IA USA

To Steve & Julie:

Carl Franz of The People's Guide to MZÿxico forwarded me your e-mail. Please read my articles on Xalapa in the e-magazine Mexico Connect... Xalapa De Mis Suenos -- Jalapa Of My Dreams

I also have several other articles there, or you can check out my seminars Roy Dudley's Xalapa Orientation

Hasta pronto! Roy B. Dudley "El Gringo Jalapeno"

Carl adds: Roy modestly neglects to mention that he is a professional photographer. His Xalapa articles are not only very interesting, but are generously illustrated with his photos. Be sure to check them out. I'll take the liberty of reproducing a couple of opening paragraphs here:

"Originally from Boulder, Colorado, I have lived in Xalapa, Veracruz, for the last 27 years. Xalapa (hah-lah-pah) is truly the place of my dreams. Nestled in lush coffee growing hills, with a micro climate averaging 68 F (20 C) year-round, it's the capital of the Gulf of Mexico state of Veracruz.

Xalapa comes from the Nahuatl (Aztec) language meaning "springs (of water) in the sand." Sometimes, you'll see it spelled Jalapa because "X" has several sounds and the Spaniards spelled Jalapa the way they thought it should be. Pickled "serrano" chiles are known as jalapenos because Don Mario Jimenez began commercializing them from here.

Xalapa is also known as the "Athens of Veracruz" because of it's strong cultural influences of three major universities, a multitude of preparatory and technical schools, insitutes, art galleries, folklore groups, outstanding anthropology and science museums, and the world renowned Xalapa Symphony Orchestra."


This just in from People's Guide correspondent and serious Baja Rat, David "El Codo" Eidell:

Next weekend I am attending a unique "get-together" or
"meeting" or "Baja Boojum Buddies Bash" (whatever the heck it's supposed to be
called) in San Quintin B.C. A bunch of folks from the bulletin board
including Earle Robataille the webmaster will be there for the four-day event. I
wonder if such a cyber oriented get-together is worth a note? You know, people
who become acquainted on a Mexico oriented bulletin board, then decide to have a
get-together in Mexico. Not everyday that I hear about a hundred folks of
similar interests traveling to Mexico for a virtual reality cyber in-person
fest. They're coming from as far away as Hawaii and Florida for crying out loud.
Campers, explorers, jeepers, RV'ers, writers, surfers, and fishing fanatics --
what a group this should be!

If you're interested in this or future Baja gatherings, drop David a line: David Eidell

Cuernavaca... but on $400 A Month?

Greetings, My name is Brad. My wife and I are planning on relocating to mexico. My wife is a
mexican national. I have been to mexico also. I wanted to ask you a few questions. We are thinking to
move to Cuernavaca (her family is in this area).

What are the options for living/ working in Mexico and being able to travel between US and Mexico? We plan to buy a house with cash when we decide on the time to relocate. We understand the need to adopt a "mexican" lifestyle in order to semi-retire so young (35). The information I have read states that it will take 400-600 dollars per month to live. (Im sure this will be dependent on the value of the peso.) What advice or sites can you provide me that will tell me the living/travel options and expected annual cost of living?

Carl replies: First of all, two people living in Mexico on 4-600 bucks a month is possible, but not easy. What is your source of information? Did you hear this from someone who has successfully done it? To get reliable information on the reality of living/retiring in Mexico I have two suggestions:
first, keep visiting our People's Guide To Mexico website (including the new section called Carl's Mexico Notebook, which will be updated frequently). Second... become a regular visitor and participant on the discussion forums at Mexico Connect.

There are thousands of foreigners living in Mexico, but relatively few of them can manage on a budget as tight as you mention. Again... living cheap here can be done, but it isn't "the norm" for gringos. You'll definitely have to imitate your Mexican neighbors, and budget your money very carefully.

As for working here and traveling back and forth to the U.S. -- no problem, as long as you've got the bucks for bus tickets or planes.

Lorena and I are working on a "People's Guide" to retiring and living in Mexico, so again -- stay tuned to the People's Guide website for ongoing updates and discussion.



Return to Carl's Notebook, current issue

©1972-2002 by Carl Franz & Lorena Havens