Tag Archives: jane bauer

Editor’s Letter

By Jane Bauer

“In our consumer culture, we always want the next best thing: the latest, the newest, the youngest. Failing that, we at least want more: more intensity, more variety, more stimulation. We seek instant gratification and are increasingly intolerant of any frustration. Nowhere are we encouraged to be satisfied with what we have, to think, “This is good. This is enough.”— Esther Perel

It feels as though every December I sit down to write my editorial and I say the same thing- shop less. Our planet and our lives are full of clutter. People have so much junk that the storage business is booming just so they can store their ever-growing piles of stuff.

So rather than issue a de-cluttering challenge where I encourage you to get rid of one thing a day for the next year- a pair of pants you haven’t fit into for the last five years, your CD collection, the junk that decorates your life. Rather than tell you how great it is to do your Christmas shopping from your own home- give your sister those earrings she covets, give your best friend your favorite book with a handwritten note.

This year I encourage you to sit with yourself and ask yourself what you need. What do you need? I guarantee it isn’t an insta-pot or a new dress. We all have a hunger inside of us that needs filling and I promise you it can’t be ordered through Amazon.

Sit with yourself and breathe- even better if you can do this in nature- the forest, the beach, rain, snow or shine- somewhere away from the traffic of consumerism. Search your body and soul for parts you want to fill- listen closely and you will hear them. Maybe your hunger is for more community, maybe you need deeper connection with your children, your spouse, your parents. Maybe you want more intimacy. Maybe you want to feel safe- financially and emotionally. Maybe you want to be less lonely. Maybe you want more time alone.

The information coming at you would have you believe that you can buy your way out of these feelings. Technology has given us a vertical expansion of comparison so that we aren’t only getting feelings of inadequacy from our neighbors buying a new car, we are comparing ourselves to celebrities and people with no visible talent but millions of followers. No amount of stuff, power or money will ever satiate what you really hunger for.

So this year buy whatever you think you want. Throw away the packaging and enjoy your shiny new toys. Then see how you feel after the luster has worn off the high. Sit long enough with yourself and you will find the path to fill the hunger and maybe by the next holiday season you’ll buy less- not because it’s good for the environment but because it’s good for yourself.

Spread love and light everywhere you go.
See you in January,

Jane

Editor’s Letter

By Jane Bauer

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”
― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

I love books. I can easily conjure up the memory of the feel of the carpet at the Children’s Library where I sat for hours as a girl. A few years ago I started keeping track of my reading and I average about forty-five books a year.

“How do you read so many books?” I have been asked. The secret is that I am rarely without a book at hand. Sitting in the car while gas is being pumped, lines at the bank, waiting for a friend in a restaurant – these are all slivers of opportunity to slip into another world.

If you have been to my restaurant on Christmas Eve you know how much I love books. For many years we have gifted each guest a random book. Inspired by the Icelandic tradition Jolabokaflod (Christman book flood), I like to tell people that they will get the book that is meant for them.

While I have lived in Mexico for more than half my life, I am a little disappointed to tell you that I haven’t read that many Mexican writers, but this issue is so full of fascinating writers that I can’t wait to read. I have read some Mexican writers and here are a few of my favorite books that aren’t mentioned in this issue.

Lost Children Archive, by Valeria Luiselli (2019)
The story of a woman, her husband and two children traveling from New York to Arizona. Touching upon the horrors of children being separated from their parents while searching for a different life. This novel examines identity and questions our humanity. Also check out her first novel The Story of My Teeth (2015)- it is a humourous and surreal tale that is primarily set at the Jumex Museum in CDMX.

Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel (1990)
I was first introduced to Mexico by watching this film in a Montreal movie theater on a cold winter evening. It was easy to fall in love with this revolutionary love story that centers around food. The novel is a fun read and includes recipes.

Into the Beautiful North, by Luis Alberto Urrea (2009)
Nineteen-year-old Nayeli notices that her small town is devoid of men because they have all gone north. She heads north to find her father and to find men to return to save the town.

What all these novels have in common is the ability to weave the surreal into the every day giving the reader a different perspective on life- much as Mexico itself does.

Happy Reading,

Jane

Editor’s Letter

By Jane Bauer

“To a dull mind all of nature is leaden. To the illumined mind the whole world burns and sparkles with light.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love all the stories: mythological, religious and especially the fairy tales. I was raised in a practical family that eschewed the dogma of religion and anything New Age. Myths were in a separate category- not based on reality, but as an interpretation of the world. When people used to ask if I was religious I would answer that “I hadn’t been given the gift of faith.”

Secretly I wanted to believe in everything. I’ve explored every avenue of religion and spirituality that has come my way. I’ve attended dozens of bar mitzvahs and seders. I’ve gone to Unitarian services and confessed at Notre Dame in Paris. I’ve celebrated the Virgen of Guadalupe and participated in a puja on the bank of the Ganges in India. Psychedelics with a shaman, ten-day silent meditation retreats, sessions with a channeler, past-life regression hypnotism? Sign me up! Am I religious? I am multi-religious and multi-spiritual – I believe everything is possible.

I find inspiration in the transcendentalists, for whom Nature was the true cathedral. I always find a walk in the forest or a sunrise on the ocean to be the perfect thing when I need to be reminded of the beauty and magic of this world. The dance of fireflies, the ballet of hummingbirds, the snake hanging out around my house – I consider all of it sacred. One day a large black moth followed me around my office. flitting from my computer to perching on my shoulder, over a period of several days. When I got home there was another by my kitchen door and he followed me around my house for hours. I don’t know what it meant, but it felt like a blessing, a positive omen. Myth and religion are our way to explain what we cannot grasp – the world is full of invisible forces. Life is much more enjoyable when we can find wonder in the mundane, even Shakespeare wrote of fairies.

This month our writers explore the intersection of myth and folklore and religion. Mexico is the ideal environment to suspend your disbelief and see where it leads you.

See you in November,

Jane

Editor’s Letter

By Jane Bauer

“In our society growing food ourselves has become the most radical of acts. It is truly the only effective protest, one that can ― and will ― overturn the corporate powers that be. By the process of directly working in harmony with nature, we do the one thing most essential to change the world ― we change ourselves.” ― Jules Dervaes

I own a restaurant, which means if you look in my fridge at home you will find a lot of good intentions. I spend all day around food and it is often easier to just have a piece of toast at the end of the day or to bring something from work. Recently some potatoes I had forgotten about started sprouting in the fridge, so I planted them. I was so inspired by the quick results that I dug out seeds I have accumulated over the years and bought some pretty planters. There is an amazing satisfaction to eating something you have grown.

The cost of food around the world is soaring! Forget when a few years back when people were complaining about the 8$ cauliflower – that is nothing compared to what is currently happening. The New Yorker recently published a piece about “The True Costs of Inflation in Small-Town Texas,” detailing the impact of inflation on BBQ. This is mainstream media reporting on rising food costs that are causing businesses to close!

In Huatulco it’s not just meat, fish (which is locally caught but there is less of it) – it’s tomatoes, avocados and everything else.

What we are experiencing right now is not the famines of the past which affected people in far off lands that we could forget about when we turned off the TV and sat down to our meat and potatoes dinner. There is no turning off the TV any more – globalization has ensured that we are all connected and we are all going to feel the effects.

The causes for some of this inflation have been higher freight costs, supply chains disrupted by the pandemic and war, increase in the cost of fertilizers and gas. Average monthly natural gas price, as indicated by the World Bank’s Natural Gas Index, went up by nearly 600% between June 2020 and December 2021.

Much of the world is experiencing record-breaking heat waves and water shortages along with soaring food prices, which will impact food production as well.

The stories about people living off the grid, near a water source and growing their own food? They don’t seem eccentric or crazy or counter-culture any more… they seem smart.

See you in October,

Jane

Editor’s Letter

By Jane Bauer

“No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.”
William Blake.

I fell in love with a bird once. I had loved dogs and cats but never a bird. One morning, far too early, my mother-in-law came stomping up the path to our house calling out for my husband.
“That bird!” she shrieked pointing to her big toe which was oozing blood.

My in-laws owned an inn in Puerto Angel and they had three yellow-eared parrots that lived in the dining area to the delight of the guests. One of the parrots had a tendency to be quite aggressive and attacking my mother-in-law’s foot was the last chance for that bird. That is how Millie came to live with us. Her cage hung by the front door and we left it open during the day and she would climb out and wander around the house, keeping clear of our dogs. She often appeared at my office window and stepped down onto my desk. She also discovered how to climb on to the bed by pulling herself up and would rub her head against mine. She was a wonderful listener and I shared with her my greatest secrets and fears. After a couple of months my husband told me that Millie’s wings were getting too long and would need to the trimmed to ensure she wouldn’t fly away.

“Let’s leave them. Let them grow,” I suggested. He didn’t agree, but he let me have my way.

Millie needed to learn to fly. I reasoned that a short life free was better than a long life grounded. I held a stick out for her to climb onto and we stood about ten meters from her cage and I would let the stick drop. She’d flap her wings nervously but she eventually learned to fly to her cage. She would squawk with delight and lean into me sweetly.

A few times she did fly off across the canyon that abutted our house and get lost in the trees. She would call out loudly and cry until we found her.

When my daughter was born Millie was very jealous and my daughter still has a scar on her cheek from where Millie pecked her.

When my husband and I separated in 2004, taking Millie with me was not an option so she went to live with his aunt and uncle who had a busy household where she would get lots of attention. They wrote to me when she died on June 5, 2019 and I cried.

Love is an unexpected and invisible thing.

See you next month,

Jane

Editor’s Letter

By Jane Bauer

Migration is as natural as breathing, as eating, as sleeping. It is part of life, part of nature. So we have to find a way of establishing a proper kind of scenario for modern migration to exist. And when I say ‘we,’ I mean the world. We need to find ways of making that migration not forced.

Gael Garcia Bernal

I am always taken aback when I hear someone come down on immigration; after all, go back far enough and most of us are a long way from where our ancestors started. Things are always changing and people are always on the move. Whether it is a temporary hiatus for rest and relaxation or seasonal higher wages or a permanent move seeking a different kind of life – perhaps one with more safety or one where our money will get us more. How are we different?

Many would argue that long-term vacationing or owning a second home in a foreign country helps the economy and therefore isn’t the same as when outsiders come into their country looking for asylum and ‘taking’ their jobs. However, I would argue that they aren’t really that different.

While the kind of migration that has its roots firmly planted in ‘expat’ experiences can temporarily help an economy, in the long run it causes prices to rise, initiates gentrification and adds to a class system. I actually cringe when I hear the word ‘expat’ for its colonial connotations and I encourage you to read further on this if you find yourself using it.

On the other hand, the kind of migration that has its roots firmly planted in ‘refugee’ experiences can temporarily put a strain on an economy, in the long run, it is an important part of the economic growth of any country.

We are first and foremost people and it is hubristic to believe that any one of us is more deserving and entitled to movement or humane quality of life. Find your place in the world, make it your own, and let everyone else do the same.

This month our writers explore the waves of migration that have made Mexico the wonderful and diverse country that it is.

Thank you to everyone who submitted essays to our My Mexico Moment contest. I look forward to reading about your favorite places in Mexico for our July issue.

See you in July,

Jane

Editor’s Letter

By Jane Bauer

“I love Nature partly because she is not man, but a retreat from him. None of his institutions control or pervade her. There a different kind of right prevails. In her midst I can be glad with an entire gladness. If this world were all man, I could not stretch myself, I should lose all hope. He is constraint, she is freedom to me. He makes me wish for another world. She makes me content with this.” — Henry David Thoreau’s journals

I fell in love with the landscape of this place almost instantly. It were as though the earth reached up and took hold of me and said ‘you are mine.’

Love is an invisible thing, a gravitational pull that can’t be explained and defies practicality and reason. My heart soars everyday as I arrive home. The breeze off the river wakes me each morning with sweet caresses and a rippling sound that reminds me that everything is constantly changing. At night the moon hangs over me with her pensive calming demeanor and a reassurance that all is right in the world. In the afternoon the parrots squawk past my house telling me to find the lightness in things. The expanse of night sky, unblemished by light pollution, is to feel the grandness of the universe greater than in any cathedral. Even the earthquakes and storms feel like a conversation between the elements and an intrinsic part of life.

What is the purpose of our lives if not to find balance and harmony with the natural world around us? More than ever we need to evaluate our effect on the world around us. There has never been a time when human beings’ need for stuff has damaged so much of the planet. Our consumerism is destroying ecosystems.

But instead of focusing on changing our habits: recycling more, driving less, eating more sustainably, maybe we should focus on getting out in nature more. Hug more trees, take more walks, look up at the sky and breathe deeply, listen to the birds, love all animals the way we love our pets. Fall in love with the natural world around you and you won’t be able to help but change the way you live.

This month our writers focus on the environment. The beauty of what it has to offer and the wins of the past year, because it isn’t all dire.

Also we are approaching the deadline for our essay contest about your Mexico Moments. Thank you to everyone who has already written in with their uplifting and interesting tales of what it is to love this place. I look forward to reading the essays that are still brewing.

Thank you for reading and being a part of The Eye.

Jane

Editor’s Letter

By Jane Bauer

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”
Gloria Steinem

I am grateful to the generation of women that came before me and told me that I could be anything. Yet, for me, this also translated into the idea that I had to do everything. While I wanted a career I also wanted to be the kind of mother who drives the kids to tennis lessons and picks them up from school. The world I was raised in didn’t make it seem very possible to have both, and career was definitely considered better and more respect-worthy than becoming a housewife.

The world today is different. Being able to work remotely and have flexible hours has made it easier than ever for women to have a work/life balance. Reproductive choice – access to birth control and pregnancy termination – has also made it easier for women to choose what their future will look like.

Every International Women’s Day we celebrate the women who are making strides ahead. We raise them up on pedestals as examples of what is possible. We applaud our gender and marvel at how far we have come. Those who have peeked over the glass ceiling give speeches on how they hope to inspire girls to strive to the top of whichever field they choose.

But if the standard we hold for success is that every woman become a doctor, CEO or climate change activist we will always fall short of our goal.

Rather than look at the millions of women who spend their days caring for their family as failed potential, we could elevate our value of the tasks that occupy them. What if we elevated the value we put on what is termed ‘women’s work’?

What if we shifted our expectations of what it means to be a feminist to be more inclusive to those who haven’t had access to academic schooling on gender theory or the chance to get an MBA?

This IWD let us celebrate the women who are doing laundry in rivers, carpooling their kids to hockey, cooking dinner while staying on budget, helping with science class volcanos and mediating tantrums from toddlers.

Because while it is encouraging to be taught you can do anything, being taught that you are enough is true empowerment.

See you next month,

Jane

An Eye on the Women of The Eye

By Marcia Chaiken and Jan Chaiken

Inspired by International Women’s Day, which falls on March 8th, which in turn inspires much of the content of the March issue of The Eye, Marcia Chaiken and Jan Chaiken have profiled the women writers of The Eye. We’ll be reprinting those profiles month by month, in alphabetical order, starting with founder and Editor-in-Chief Jane Bauer. As the months go by, we’ll sneak in the men, too!

Jane Bauer

Jane is the Editor-in-Chief, Art Director, Publisher, Marketing Director, and originator of The Eye magazine. She began the publication in January 2011 as a means of building a bridge between visitors and English-speaking residents in Mexico and the many small businesses available to provide them with goods and services. She realized that some tourists and foreign residents held distorted perspectives based on misinformation about Mexico and its people, the “nationals” with whom they were interacting. Jane brought together a small group of writers who previously had extensive literary experience and a deep interest in Mexico, and encouraged us to research and write articles about diverse topics to address these misconceptions. She also saw The Eye as a vehicle for small businesses to reach out to visitors and foreign residents with the goal of promoting and growing many “mom and pop” business enterprises. Many local businesses were receptive to this concept and provided support; for example Johnny Gonzales, of Lorama Grafi, did the layouts for the first six issues of the magazine, and he trained Jane to take over the activity.

Jane’s establishment of The Eye might possibly have been predicted from her early years. She was born and raised in Montreal, attending French-speaking schools, including a high school semester in Brittany, France, and went on to earn a BA at McGill University in Cultural Studies with a minor in Women’s Studies. Before graduation, she traveled to Mexico and once she saw Mazunte in Oaxaca she vowed to return, and she did. She worked at small family-run inn in Puerto Ángel and it was there she met her husband. Once their baby daughter Frances was born, Jane became a stay-at-home mom until, in 2005, Frances was ready for first grade. Jane moved to Huatulco where there was a better offering of schools for her daughter and began teaching yoga.

In 2008, she started Café Juanita, which recently moved to Tangolunda. Beginning in 2009, Jane and her boyfriend opened Hemingway’s Cantina, and many of us fondly remember the events she organized there, such as Oscar Night, until 2013. In addition to yoga and Café Juanita, Jane coordinated weddings starting in 2010, established the Huatulco Salt Company in 2016, and started giving cooking lessons. Later she designed and built the Chiles&Chocolate Cooking School in Zimatán, a rural village 25 minutes outside Huatulco, where she also hosts weekly farm-to-table dinners. In the hours when she is not teaching, managing her numerous projects and bringing out the latest issue of The Eye, Jane is a voracious reader, totaling 53 books last year, mostly fiction.

In her role as Editor-in-Chief, Jane publishes an editorial each month. Although she is hard-pressed to select a favorite, she really likes her editorial from the September/October 2013 issue on “What I Learned in Mexico.” Jane is justifiably proud of the way the English-speaking community continues to clamor for hard copies of The Eye and equally proud of the ability of the online Eye to keep people living in other countries interested in Mexico and wanting to return. As Jane hoped, The Eye has become a bridge among foreign visitors and residents and many small businesses. Businesses that advertise in or are written about in The Eye report significant increases in patronage.

For more about Jane: Instagram @livingfoodmexico

Editor’s Letter

By Jane Bauer

“Help each other. Love everyone. Every leaf. Every ray of light. Forgive.”
Terrence Malick

It’s almost Valentine’s Day … again. When The Eye contributors discuss upcoming topics there is always a bit of a sigh when it comes to this issue as we try and weave something about love and romance into it. Most of our contributors are married and have been for decades – the Chaikens met as children and have been married for almost 60 years! Can you imagine! Well, maybe you can, but I assure you it is difficult for me.

I am from a generation that craves variety and doesn’t really expect anything to last that long. Just a few decades ago people bought appliances for life. They would have a TV set for 20 years! I am from a generation that upgrades. And while the latest model may be sleeker and have a sharper image, it’s also made of flimsy plastic and not made to last. It’s built to be tossed into a landfill in four years.

With a cultural diet of romantic comedies, love songs and fairy-tale happy endings, is it any wonder that many of us have gotten used to moving on when things aren’t picture perfect, rather than focusing on repair? We live in a time where you can reject dozens of people with a swipe over your morning coffee. Has romantic love become disposable?

I am very fortunate to be surrounded by many amazing and long-term couples like those who work on The Eye, but I am sure they would tell me it hasn’t always been easy. In a time where women celebrate their financial and emotional independence more than previous generations it is understandable that we have come to expect more, although I am not sure we are better for it.

I also know many inspirational women who are going at it alone. When I asked an older Mexican friend if she would consider getting a boyfriend she laughed and said that she didn’t want to have to do more laundry or cook for more people.

Wherever you are on the romantic relationship spectrum, it’s easy to invite more love into your life this month. Talk to your neighbors, help a stranger, write a letter to someone you haven’t spoken to in twenty years, call your parents, your siblings. Wish the best to those who have wronged you and fissured your heart and surround yourself with people who want the best for you. Hug a tree, pick up garbage, repair things, use less, buy less, give stuff away, pick up the check. Love your life and let that love spread out and touch everything.

See you next month,

Jane