Book Review: Gringos in Paradise

The gates between the United States and Mexico open in both directions. People coming into the USA seeking a better quality of life meet people heading into Mexico seeking the same thing.

This summer, at the Pages on Pine used book store in Spartanburg I bought Barry Golson’s Gringos In Paradise because the sub-title—An American Couple Builds Their Retirement Dream House in a Seaside Village in Mexico—caught my attention. I was curious how their experience building in Mexico compared to what I went through  building in Jonesville, and whether or not they had done much document forging with “Gassoway Oil & Gas Co., 1924” embossing stamp like the one I still have it. They hadn’t, btw, but they had a few tricks of their own.

I enjoyed the book ‘s description of the Mexican people’s emphasis on family and friends, odd viewpoint on punctuality,  wide, near bi-polar swings between laid back and passionate moods. It did a nice job describing the handsome terrain and easy climate and the Mexican difference between corruption and “augmentation”. And, of course, it gave an eye-opening walk through on the hoops and ladders of getting a house on its feet.

The Golsons, in Mexico, had building codes while my builder never mentioned them  where I am. We both had house plans that began as rough sketches—theirs scratched in the dirt, mine on the back of a manila envelope—and both ditched the sketched in favor of actual professional drawn up plans due to not trusting sketches. And but neither their plan nor ours synced up with the concepts of budget and deadline.

Not wanting to give too much away I’ll just say that building a house is a totally crazy adventure whether in Spanish or English. Btw, both of us experienced it in both languages.

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— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill