In 2018, Shinji Yoshikawa, a Japanese ex-pat living in Mexico City, decided that since his family was away during Christmas, he would travel out of his comfort zone and visit a place he’d read about in a magazine. He had no idea about the adventures that awaited him.
El Rancho Evergreen is located in San Isidro Chichihuistan near San Cristobal, Chiapas. It is run by an American, Samuel, a French woman named Stephanie, and their two multicultural daughters, Zoe and Cheyenne. To get there, our fearless traveler took a smooth plane ride to Tuxtla Guiterrez, the nearest airport, which he slept through, then a bumpy and uncomfortable bus ride he did not sleep through. Finally, his voyage culminated in a shared taxi ride to his destination, which was neither comfortable nor uncomfortable.
The author’s adventures are sprinkled with humor as he thoroughly enjoys his vacation, even when things don’t go exactly as planned. For those that have not experienced ex-pat life in Mexico, he shares some tidbits about Mexican culture, such as no central heating systems, the rarity of on-time transportation schedules, and the reality that the nearest wi-fi signal is quite a hike up the hill and by the big tree which you can climb to improve your reception.
I’d have to say that my favorite part was Yoshikawa’s description of Christmas Eve with his host family and other guests. Despite being shy and retiring, the author voluntarily added to the festivities by borrowing a guitar and singing in three languages. What a memorable experience for everyone!
Although Yoshikawa’s high-jinks amused me greatly, there were some writing issues that could be improved upon. As the author’s first language was Japanese and his second Spanish, this English version had multiple vocabulary and word use errors, punctuation mistakes, and a few things that, well, just got lost in translation. Another pass-through by an editor for some additional spit polish and shine would not be amiss here.
Any world or armchair traveler would love this book, which amounts to a travelogue. It isn’t a long read. After all, the author’s visit to El Rancho Evergreen lasted just four days. Nor is it a tedious read, as many travel stories can be. Yoshikawa pokes fun at his own expectations and finds that the road less traveled is delightful in its own way.
So if you enjoy a good travel story, Mountains, Radio Waves, and a Love Letter: Days of Adventures on the Evergreen Ranch by Shinji Yoshikawa will make your day!
I received an ARC from Reedsy Discovery. You can see my review HERE.