An Ingenious “Remedio”

One topic that is always of interest to expats in Mexico, are the various cures and “health warnings” that our Mexican friends suggest to us.

Our loved ones will look at us with wide eyes and say things such as, “Don’t take a shower now! Since you just got all wet in the rain you’ll get sick from the shower!” or “Don’t eat an avocado, you just got mad. It’ll make your stomach hurt.”

We look at them, mouths hanging open, and see that they are quite serious. We must quickly close our mouths before our feet go right in. (Then, to be honest, we always tell our expat friends all about it… and… (**shhh** Don’t tell anyone.) we laugh.

I have more on this topic in my book, but my blog today focuses on a home remedy that I think beats the pants off of my own culture’s options.

I got the flu. A bad flu. Make that THE FLU.  After an unbelievable number of days with said flu, my left tonsil swelled up to the size of a tangerine. And it hurt.  I had a fever, despite taking ibuprofen, and I was toying with the idea of going to a doctor for antibiotics.

My lovely Mexican husband sprang into action. He called my mother-in-law, of course.

Guess what she suggested? Warming tomatillos on the comal… and holding one against the painful area.  I wasn’t sure how this would help, but we tried it.

It was lovely. The warm, smooth skin of the tomatillo radiated into my painful tonsil from the outside in and I sighed in comfort.

So my tonsil was (is) still so bad that the tomatillos went on and off the comal like old fashioned irons on the wood stove on pressing day.  I warmed the painful area all morning long.  Once he learned not to heat them so much that the skin broke, my husband was able to make each tomatillo last for hours. One skin broke, but who cares? It was still better than a soggy rag on my neck and clothes.

Of course, this is just a hot compress, but it’s a DRY one, that stays warm a lot longer than a wet rag.  The tomatillos never get clammy. They just drop to body temperature, and back onto the heat they go.

Here’s an Americanization of the remedy: we started using a toaster oven set at 200 degrees Fahrenheit. It made it easier to avoid splitting the skins.

Well, now that you’ve read it here on home-sweet-mexico, you don’t have to wait until you retire in Mexico to try it. Tomatillos are available in most northern grocery stores (or you could just use tomatoes, if you are willing to part with hundreds, maybe thousands of years of practical experience).

Of course, I hope you never have to get to know either of your tonsils as I have.

Really wish I had read your book before building in Mexico….

Michele Berkner, Canadian Snowbird, writes:

I have just bought your book and will be diving into it on the plane back to Canada today, but before I leave Mexico this time around, I have a situation that I am hoping you can help me with.

[We want to sell our Mexican car to someone we know in Mexico.] The only problem is that we are being told that there is a minimum price we can sell it for. At the time [we took ownership of the car] the value was 81,000 pesos and we are told we must sell it for a minimum of 28,000 plus pay for the transfer 2800 pesos.

The source of this information is dodgy at best, but I can’t find anyone who has ever heard of this before…….your help would be much appreciated!


home-sweet-mexico replies:


Thank you for purchasing my book. I hope you are enjoying it.

I have never heard of such a rule, though, there are lots of laws I have no idea about.

I think it would be a good idea to ask a car-owning Mexican friend (preferably one who has nothing to gain from your car sale and one who has been to university) an open-ended question if there is anything you need to know about selling a car.

I know that you can work this out in a way that is beneficial for both parties.  If a third party seems to be dishonest or is blockading the process, try to work with a fourth party — preferably at a different location.

Best of luck!

Julia C Taylor

Michele Berkner:

Hi Julia:

Thanks so much for your reply and yes, enjoying the book a lot!!

I was able to determine that there is no minimum selling price, you just need the original factura (plus copies of course), all the tenencias over the past 5 years and the tarjeta [de] circulation (plus a million copies of these last 2 as well….I would imagine!).

I also appreciate your recommendations on getting the correct information by working around those who seem to wish to blockade anything I try to attempt….that would be the accountant who will be losing her job as soon as humanly possible.

Really getting a good laugh from your book.  A friend of mine gave me a book called “God and Mr. Gomez” after we had finished building our home.  Its another good book with lots of laughs if you haven’t read it!

Thanks again




Thank you for the suggestion of the book. I haven’t read it and it sounds interesting. I think I’ll have to read it soon.

I’m so glad you are enjoying my book and that you found a solution to your lack of information about selling a car.

Would you mind if I put up a quote from your email “Really getting a good laugh from your book…?”

Sorry, to bother you with my request but this is the way that I get all of the positive reviews on my web site. I wait until someone sends me a compliment that comes from their own heart, then I ask them if I may use it to help sell my book.

Many thanks,


Michele Berkner:

Hi Julia:

No problem to use quotes from me!  The book is very informative and it’s a great read due to the humour….and truth behind everything you have written…..really wish I had read it before building in Mexico as it would certainly have made my life a lot easier!!

Thanks again for everything!


home-sweet-mexico replies:


Thank you! I have been sick with a flu and am finally able to put up your quotes. May I use your name or just your initials? I guess I’ll start with your initials, then fill them out with your name if you give me permission.


Michele Berkner of Canada:


Sorry to hear about your flu!!  Feel free to use my name…Michele Berkner…or initials as I am not trying to keep anything hidden at all.

Your book was great and again, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN GREAT TO HAVE READ IT PRIOR TO BUYING LAND AND BUILDING A HOUSE IN MANZANILLO…….I still go back and read about the small un-truths as that is just soooo soooo true!  I even had to run a few tests to prove this to my husband!!!

Thanks again so much for your book and all that info you have provided…..practically free….to all us knot-head Canadians/Americans who blindly go to Mexico thinking it will be exactly the same as it is at home!!!!  I now know that if I need a new bank card it will take 3 trips of 4 hours each to get that accomplished…..instead of the Canadian 10 minutes “here’s a temporary card and you will have the new one in the mail within the week!”

Having said that, I love Mexico……’s such a great laugh!!

Take care.