On Mexican Time: A New Life in San Miguel

$14.95 (as of November 23, 2017, 8:25 am)

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An American writer and his wife find a new home—and a new lease on life—in the charming sixteenth-century hill town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

When Los Angeles novelist Tony Cohan and his artist wife, Masako, visited central Mexico one winter they fell under the spell of a place where the pace of life is leisurely, the cobblestone streets and sun-splashed plazas are enchanting, and the sights and sounds of daily fiestas fill the air. Awakened to needs they didn’t know they had, they returned to California, sold their house and cast off for a new life in San Miguel de Allende. On Mexican Time is Cohan’s evocatively written memoir of how he and his wife absorb the town’s sensual ambiance, eventually find and refurbish a crumbling 250-year-old house, and become entwined in the endless drama of Mexican life. Brimming with mystery, joy, and hilarity, On Mexican Time is a stirring, seductive celebration of another way of life—a tale of Americans who, finding a home in Mexico, find themselves anew.
In the mid-1980s, Tony Cohan and his artist wife, Masako, decided they had had enough of the hectic pace and inherent insecurities of life in Los Angeles and made tracks for the historic town of San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico. At first they rented rooms in a hotel. Then, when the hotel became less appealing, they graduated to renting an apartment. Almost inevitably, they eventually found themselves buying a 250-year-old hacienda on the verge of collapse, with wonderfully elegant Spanish colonial architecture and a garden brimming with papayas, avocados, and custard apples.

What followed was a love affair with a country and its people that has endured. On Mexican Time is a lyrical attempt to capture the Mexican magic that bewitched the two of them. Cohan introduces us to a quirky cast of Mexicans and expats, including murderers, idealists, philanderers, and writers. Spanning 15 years, the book conveys something of the curiously intangible passage of time, as we watch girls become mothers, marriages drift apart, and friends come and go. The text is rich with sensuous details, and Cohan is excellent at conveying the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of a country that he clearly adores.

On Mexican Time is much less of a glib chronicle than other books of the “charming new life in paradise” genre. Although he is not averse to the odd moment of portentousness, Cohan makes a gentle and elegant guide through the experiences of expat life in San Miguel. –Toby Green

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