by Sukey HowardMarch, 2000
The only mystery here is what makes people exchange their familiar home terrain for one in another country with a vastly different, often inscrutable, culture. Tony Cohan may not solve this mystery completely, but he offers much more than casual clues in his wonderfully written, and ably read, new book, On Mexican Time (5 hours). Cohen and his wife Masako first came to San Miguel de Allende, a small town in the mountains well north of Mexico City, as casual visitors. They hadn't planned to stay, but after more and ever lengthier trips, they realized how much happier they were away from the angst and anxiety of Los Angeles and how much they loved and cherished the pace, the place, and the people of San Miguel. So they did what many others have done (and written about), they bought a crumbling colonial house that needed everything and dealt with the foibles of contractors and workmen, and the frustrations of dealing with a foreign bureaucracy. But unlike his bestselling peers, Cohen looks deeper into his relationship with Mexico and Mexicans, deeper into the allure of the culture and the reality of being a refugee from our featureless, fast-moving technofuture.