This article is from the December 1996 - January 1997 The Mexico File newsletter.
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Book Review
Travelers’ Tales Mexico


Edited by James O’Reilly and Larry Habegger
(San Francisco: Travelers’ Tales, Inc., 1994; $15.95)

Reviewed by Robert Simmonds, Ph.D.

Take a culture as diverse and intriguing as Mexico’s and put it into the hands of literary masters...and the result will be a sumptuous feast of travel stories which will truly delight one’s imagination and sensibilities. Editors O’Reilly and Habegger have read hundreds of stories to choose those that best capture the feel and experience of Mexico. They have provided a new kind of travel anthology, one that merges the scope of the guidebook with the richness of travel literature. Travelers’ Tales Mexico was selected by the San Francisco Examiner as one of the top five travel books of 1994.

The editors have selected an impressive sampler of writings from authors, teachers and scientists, all of them top-quality. Carlos Fuentes takes us on an historical tour of Mexico City’s central square. The ecology of Baja California is the focus of "Wild Baja," by Peter Heller, based on a tour he took with Baja Expeditions led by its founder Tim Means. A trip into Copper Canyon and the home of the Tarahumara is narrated by Rob Schultheis. Peter Canby describes his ordeal of getting lost in the Lacadón jungle and his observations about the value of the rainforest:

It struck me that the ignorance which has allowed the destruction of the forests is not significantly different from the ignorance epitomized in the Spanish requerimento. Just as the Spanish confused their own cosmogony with truth, so have we confused the needs of our industrial society with the needs of the earth itself.

The book is organized into five sections:

The Essence of Mexico, which contains stories reflecting the character of the landscape, the people or the traveler’s experience of the country.

Some Things To Do, a section devoted to some particular places that previous travelers have found intriguing.

Going Your Own Way, which describes experiences that are farther off the tourist track, relayed by authors who interacted closely with the people or who were willing to travel adventurously where few others go.

In the Shadows, which ventures into the darker side of Mexico’s complex culture, behind the happy smiles that greet most tourists.

The Last Word, which reminds the reader just how special a trip to Mexico can be.

This is your book to pick up from time to time, just to be reminded. It is a most appropriate addition to anyone’s dream kit.