I have a confession to make. I haven't really been lost in a swamp of work, as I said in my last post. I have been in Mexico! Oh, lordy. Wowee. Look at that little collage of colors there. That doesn't even begin to convey it. That country knows color, from the Mayan weavings to the peeling paint on the colonial churches, to the hibiscus, the bougainvillea, the turquoise and sea-green waterfalls, the shimmering feathers of the macaws. Color is everywhere, the trees are plump with mangoes, the crafts are gorgeous, the sweets are sweet, and the sky is blue (except when it decides to dump a year's worth of rain on you in one day, but more on that later!)
We had a wonderful time. As I fervently hoped, we heard howler monkeys -- they sound like monsters, I'm not even kidding. They should be called roarer monkeys. When they are all around you in the jungle calling to each other, it sounds like rival gangs of monsters about to rumble (click HERE to hear audio). We saw spider monkeys too, swinging through the canopy, and we interrupted a few crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks of the Rio Grijalva. We bought our weight in Mayan textiles, stumbling home from the market feeling drunk on color.
AND THERE WERE MANGOES. . .
I didn't even know -- imagine, me with my dreams of making a "Mango World Tour" -- I didn't know it was mango season in Mexico!!! That was just a stroke of wild good luck! The market stalls were piled high with them, my favoritest of all favorite foods. We ate them for dinner fully half the nights of our trip -- we tried seven different varieties, from one as big as a football, to a wee green kind you don't slice, but only make a little slit in and then drink like it's nature's own juicebox. Oh my god. And it tastes ever so slightly of coconut, and it makes a slurping, delicious mess, but it's worth it. Heaven!
We were in Chiapas for the entire eight days of our short trip. It's Mexico's far southern state, right on the border with Guatemala, and it goes from beaches to sugarcane and corn fields to cool crisp highlands, to deep, humid rainforest filled with jaguars, rebel camps, and long-lost Mayan cities. It's not one of the more touristy parts of the country, Lord knows why, and since this was our first trip to Mexico, we can't compare it with the other regions. I can just say I recommend it highly, and I'll tell you lots more about it in the coming days, and show lots more photos.
Meantime, I read a really awesome book on the trip, one fantasy lovers must check out:
The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch, is a fat, juicy book about a clever, tight-knit band of thieves, the Gentleman Bastards, headed up by the audacious Locke Lamora, master of disguise. The fantasy element is not overwhelming -- there is alchemy, and there's some sorcery, but none of those things are especially important to the plot (at least, not at first). It's all about the thieving, the wonderful characters, and the rich, weird, violent, harsh, incredibly colorful world that Lynch has dreamed up. The city is a kind of debauched Venice -- if Venice had been discovered already built by some mysterious ancient race long since vanished from the Earth! In this world the Gentleman Bastards ply their trade, reveling in being clever and richer than everyone else, steadily amassing a fortune -- when a shadowy new villain comes to town to threaten everything they hold dear. It's a real page-turner, so vibrant and strange, funny, horrifying, crude, creepy, and suspenseful. A sequel came out last summer; I haven't read it yet. Check out this one, though, fantasy readers!
Oh, and one last thing: my new favorite Spanish-language pop song (the only one song I know!), "Perfecta." The band, Miranda, is from Argentina, but we kept hearing this song in Mexico. It's catchy and adorable, and the video is so silly; I can't understand what they're saying, of course, but I see on Wikipedia that the band is known for the provocative lyrics. So I apologize if it's dirty! Watch to the end to see the farmers' weird beet brawl. Enjoy!