Lone man on the bus

June 2005. “De donde eres (Where are you from)? Guatemala?” asked the cab driver. “De los Estados Unidos (From the United States)," I replied. “No hablo español muy bien (I don’t speak Spanish very well).” “Ah!” he said in a knowing tone. “It’s very hard to go north,” he continued in halting English. He grinned …

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The tyranny of reputation

June 2005. He came from behind. “Do you speak English?” the man asked as he kept pace with my stride along Paseo de la Reforma, a busy street in Mexico City. “Yes.” I replied. “What time is it?” he continued. “Ten a.m.” Where are you going?” “To the Anthropological Museum.” “The gate along Reforma is …

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False impressions

June 2005. “Is that a journal you’re writing on?” I looked up and replied in the affirmative to the person who asked. I continued to scribble voluminous notes on the blank pages. There were many observations about the Mexican town of San Juan Chamula to digest, expressions of disbelief to record. I couldn’t stop writing. …

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Loteria in the park

August 2006. The temperature in the room at Hotel Colonial was about to crash through the ceiling with its sea green beams. Beads of sweat collected on my forehead, the fan struggling in vain to beat the oppressive humidity that filtered through the window. The mid-afternoon thunderstorm didn’t seem to have helped. Instead, the heavy …

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Illegal in Mexico

June 2005.  How could I be in such a predicament without knowing it? Palenque, in the state of Chiapas, was teeming with tourists, primarily there to visit the famed Mayan ruins nearby. I was one of many, even scoring a permit to see the sarcophagus of Pakal – the king of Palenque. Obtaining it required …

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