A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!

Rosana

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Feb. 27, 2008 – Yesterday morning Kelly and I drove back into Guadalajara, as I had a doctor’s appointment. We went in early enough to go to Sandi Bookstore, the largest English-language bookstore in Guadalajara. Being the book fanatic that I am, I had long been curious to check it out.

It’s a very attractive store in a pleasant neighborhood, easily accessed when coming in from Jocotepec and thus arriving in the city on Avenida Lopez Mateos… there is a map on the bookstore website. There was a tiny bunch of parking places right in front of the store, and we got one.

The first thing I noticed on entering the store was the extensive collection of travel guides (Lonely Planet) for every corner of the globe. Wandering around, we saw a good collection of books for expats to learn Spanish and a selection for Mexicans to learn English. There were children’s books. Much of the entire collection consists of textbooks in English, with the upstairs balcony full of medical texts in English. While I had a momentary vision of aging expats self-diagnosing in the aisles (something that wouldn’t be beyond me), the main customers are no doubt Mexican medical students.

Back downstairs, I was surprised to see a book about Things Fall Apart, an important novel by Chinua Achebe about the destructive effects of Europe on West African culture which I had written a term paper on in grad school in the 1960s. Kelly, an archaeology buff, found a book but I actually walked out of there barehanded.

Ordering US Books from Sandi for Delivery in Mexico

The best news to me about Sandi Books is that they offer a way to order books in English for delivery here in Mexico. We chatted, mostly in English, with a very helpful woman who explained the process if you don’t go to the store to do it: we email or otherwise contact them with a list of what we want ordered. They prepare a cost estimate and we go to a bank in our community — in our case, it would be in Chapala — where there is a procedure for paying that estimate. The prices are either identical to US prices or a small percentage above them,

Then the books are ordered by Sandi from the publishers, and normally they get them in 4 to 6 weeks. They then ship them to you, using a courier service I hadn’t heard of and the name of which I have forgotten, but she said it was like Fedex or DHL. I asked, with some doubt, if they delivered to obscure little back streets and she said yes, no problem. The shipping charge was about 75 pesos plus perhaps something more for each book, and you would have paid for it in that estimate.

This isn’t as easy as having friends bring things down, but sometimes it’s quite a while between friends. I’ll report if I try this.

UPDATE: Never did try it.

Readers in the US may be wondering why I don’t just buy from Amazon and have things mailed down. After all, we do have a post office box in Ajijic. Not only are the Mexican mails slow (we got a Christmas card one Easter) and unreliable, but you are more likely to be charged duty. I thought the customs fees were around 30% but one woman I know bought an expensive technical book and the duty was over 100%.

Suburbia: Kind of Like Macy’s

We left Sandi Books and only got lost twice going a few kilometers to the Plaza Mexico shopping mall. Kelly dropped me off there and went off to retrieve his Canon Powershot camera that was being repaired somewhere else in the city. I went into the well-named Suburbia which is a department store kind of like a Macy’s. I didn’t think the prices were any cheaper than in the US, but hey, I am here and I needed some things. Topping my list was a new set of cotton sheets, but they had none in the relatively rare bed size we have, queen. Okay, another time maybe, or maybe I’ll get some brought down from the US by a friend.

UPDATE: Eventually found queen all-cotton sheets at the Wal Mart in the Lake Chapala area.

I was also looking for some cotton underwear and they did have all-cotton panties for about $6 US each. I didn’t need them that much, but the longer we live in Mexico, the more I want to find resources for things I will want so I don’t have to get them in the US. I did try on a cute dress, also in my preferred cotton, which interestingly came from India, as did a nice cotton nightgown I didn’t need right now.

My next stop was a GNC store, widely found in Mexican malls. I got some vitamin C and vitamin E at okay but not great prices, but struck out on a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement without iron similar to the Twinlab one we take. So that will be a purchase for our next mule from the north. Just as I was leaving the store, my eye fell on a deodorant that is the exact kind I prefer, something I usually get from a health food store in the US. So I bought one of those.

After a visit to my doctor who says my ear is just about totally healed, I found Kelly in the mall. He had picked up his camera just fine, only getting lost once. We headed home, with compassion for those who have to endure big city traffic daily, wherever in the world they may live.

7 Comments from the old blog:

  • At March 06, 2008 8:01 PM,  Nancy said…

    I often buy English language books from Amate Books in Oaxaxa. They frequently come within a week and the prices are excellent. You can order online.

    www.amatebooks.com

  • And she added: http://www.amatebooks.com/Tienda%20Merida.php

  • At March 07, 2008 2:42 PM,  Rosana Hart said…

    Thanks, Nancy! It’s the long way round for the books to go to Oaxaca first but hey if it works and is easier, I am all in favor. I

  • At March 07, 2008 9:37 PM,  Catalyst said…

    I was pleased to discover your blog. My wife and I lived in Ajijic, then Guadalajara, then back to San Antonio Tlayacapan in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Sandi Bookstore became a near daily destination when we lived in the city. It was great to see it again and, on the store’s website, I believe the gray-haired woman in one of the pictures is the Sandi the store is really named after. Thanks for bringing back some great memories.

  • At March 08, 2008 8:55 PM,  Rosana Hart said…

    Welcome, Catalyst! If you come back and see this, I would enjoy knowing what took you back to the US, always an interesting quiestion to us here.

  • At October 28, 2008 12:31 PM,  bordersaside said…

    I was going crazy until our first trip to Guadalajara. We went in many books stores and found few books in English. By the time we got to Sandies my hopes were pretty low on what we would find. It was like heaven opened its doors to me when we went in. I couldn’t believe it a whole store of English books. I am curious to if you ended up ordering through them. They told us about it but we live about an hour away and cant make it there that often. We also have friends who will be bringing books down or mailing them. We had ordered from a site called better world books that had cheep international books but the books never got to us. The mail system is pretty bad as you said. Sorry if Im over commenting on your blogs. This is the first time I can speak to someone in English about he experiences Iv had here who actually has had them also. Im loving this. Thank you.

    I am an avid reader and just dont know what to do with my self if I dont have a stack of books ready to be read. When I moved here we moved with just the suitcases we were allowed on the plane. Considering it was me and my 2 year old. Toys came before books.

  • At October 29, 2008 3:01 PM,  Rosana Hart said…

    I never did use them. I have enough friends coming and going to the US that I mostly buy from Amazon, abe.com, alibris.com, and the like, with occasional binges in physical bookstores when I get north myself. I am also discovering more ebooks to download and read on my computer.

2 Responses to “Buying Books in Guadalajara”

  • Patrisia says:

    Hi I order from Sandi's before. I received the book about 4 weeks later. Very good service. I live here in Tonala so I am closer to them and get to go often. I have shipped within Mexico using Fedex and they are great. Hope this helps.

  • Rosana says:

    Yes, it does help, thanks!

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