Tag Archives: mexico

The Crossing

McCarthy, Cormac.The Crossing. Kindle Edition. 1994.

“When their father was done he looked up. His eyes were very blue and very beautiful half hid away in the leathery seams of his face. As if there were something there that the hardness of the country had not been able to touch.” (location 231)

“In the jars dark liquids. Dried viscera. Liver, gall, kidneys. The inward parts of the beast who dreams of man and has so dreamt in running dreams a hundred thousand years and more. Dreams of that malignant lesser god come pale and naked and alien to slaughter all his clan and kin and rout them from their house. A god insatiable whom no ceding could appease nor any measure of blood.”  (location 239)

“Echols one time told me that tryin to get the best of a wolf is like tryin to get the best of a kid. It aint that they’re smarter. It’s just that they aint got all that much else to think about.” (location 388)

“The lights of the town strewn across the prairie lay in that blue vale like a jeweled serpent incandescing in the evening cool.” (location 714)

“The snow on the north slopes so pale. Like spaces left for messages.” (location 721)

“Who can dream of God? This man did. In his dreams God was much occupied. Spoken to He did not answer. Called to did not hear. The man could see Him bent at his work. As if through a glass. Seated solely in the light of his own presence. Weaving the world. In his hands it flowed out of nothing and in his hands it vanished into nothing once again. Endlessly. Endlessly. So. Here was a God to study.” (location 2211)

“A God who seemed a slave to his own selfordinated duties.” (location 2213)

“A low door connected them and in the corner of the second room was a fireplace and a small altar with a Virgin of painted wood. A jar that held dead weeds. A drinking glass in the bottom of which lay a medallion of blackened wax. Against the wall stood a contrivance of poles lashed together into a frame and webbed with strips of rawhide with the hair on. It had the look of some rude agrarian implement but was in fact a bed. He blew out the match and walked out and stood in the door. Boyd was sitting on the stoop watching the girl. She was at the watering trough at the far end of the compound holding the horses while they drank. She and the two horses and the dog were surrounded by a semicircle of sitting dogs of every stripe and color but she paid them no mind. She stood very patiently with the horses while they drank. While they raised their dripping mouths and looked about and while they drank again. She did not touch the horses nor talk to them. She just waited while they drank and they drank for a long time.” (location 3231)

“Boyd put the last corner of the taco in his mouth and sat chewing. What do you reckon is in these tacos? he said. Cats. Cats? Sure. You see how the dog was lookin at you? They aint done it, said Boyd. You see any cats in the street? It’s too hot for cats in the street. You see any in the shade? There could be some laid up in the shade somewheres. How many cats have you seen anywheres? You wouldnt eat a cat, Boyd said. Even to get to watch me eat one. I might. No you wouldnt. I would if I was hungry enough. You aint that hungry. I was pretty hungry. Wasnt you? Yeah. I aint now. We aint eat no cats have we? No. Would you know it if we had? Yeah. You would too.” (location 3844)

“Si el mundo es ilusión la pérdida del mundo es ilusión también.” (location 4233)

****”He prodded the ashes with a stick. The few red coals that turned up in the fire’s black heart seemed secret and improbable. Like the eyes of things disturbed that had best been left alone.” (location 4876)

“along those unseen corridors writ in their blood a hundred thousand years.” (location 4924)

“The names of the cerros and the sierras and the deserts exist only on maps. We name them that we do not lose our way. Yet it was because the way was lost to us already that we have made those names. The world cannot be lost. We are the ones. And it is because these names and these coordinates are our own naming that they cannot save us. That they cannot find for us the way again.” (location 5815)

“He said that in any case the past was little more than a dream and its force in the world greatly exaggerated. For the world was made new each day and it was only men’s clinging to its vanished husks that could make of that world one husk more.” (location 6169)

“In their images they had thought to find some small immortality but oblivion cannot be appeased.”  (location 6205)

an old dog “so scarred and broken that it might have been patched up out of parts of dogs by demented vivisectionists.” (location 6362)

Read February/March, 2014

All the Pretty Horses

McCarthy, Cormac. All the Pretty Horses. Kindle Edition. 1992.

“A long fan of light ran out from the east and the rising sun swelled blood red along the horizon.” (location 1285)

“I dont believe in signing on just till it quits suitin you.” (location 2323)

“and a thin white dog who seemed to have been awaiting just such an arrival came over and urinated for a long time against the rear tire of the truck and went back.” (location 2609)

“That all courage was a form of constancy. That it was always himself that the coward abandoned first. After this all other betrayals came easily.” (location 3508)

“as he rode he talked to it and told it things about the world that were true in his experience and he told it things he thought could be true to see how they would sound if they were said.” (location 3609)

“repeated what his father had once told him, that scared money cant win and a worried man cant love.” (location 3683)

“walls where the first lamps were lit, the narrow spires of smoke standing vertically into the windless dawn so still the village seemed to hang by threads from the darkness.”  (location 3837)

“sleep he dreamt of horses and the horses in his dream moved gravely among the tilted stones like horses come upon an antique site where some ordering of the world had failed and if anything had been written on the stones the weathers had taken it away again and the horses were wary and moved with great circumspection carrying in their blood as they did the recollection of this and other places where horses once had been and would be again.” (location 4187)

“me not to chew on somethin that was eatin you.” (location 4355)

“They sat very quietly. The dead moon hung in the west and the long flat shapes of the nightclouds passed before it like a phantom fleet.”  (location 4469)

Read June-July 1213

The Lawless Roads

Greene, Graham. The Lawless Roads. London: Penguin, 1976. Print. (First Ed. 1939)

“Man’s like the earth, his hair like grasse is grown,
His veins the rivers are, his heart the stone.”
Wit’s Recreations (1640)

“Most priests wear their mufti with a kind of uneasiness, but Pro was a good actor.” p. 19

The execution of Miguel Pro. Via Wikimedia.

“Within two months of Pro’s landing, President Calles had begun the fiercest persecution of religion anywhere since the reign of Elizabeth.” p. 19

President Plutarco Elías Calles.

“For Mexico remained Catholic; it was only the governing class – politicians and pistoleros – which was anti-Catholic.” p. 20

“Over there – one argued to oneself – were Chichen Itza and Mitla and Palenque, the enormous tombstones of history,” p. 24

“For the priest prison, and for the politician a bullet.” p. 24

Quadragesimo Anno (encyclical issued by Pope Pius XI on 15 May 1931)

“We writers are apt to judge a country by freedom of the Press, and politicians by freedom of speech – it’s the same really.” p. 32

“This was Mexico, that was the United States. The only difference was dirt and darkness: there weren’t so many lights in Mexico. They called this Nuevo Laredo to distinguish it from the town in Texas, but as so often happens the son looked older than the father, more acquainted with the seamy side of life.” p. 33

“A drunken voice sung in Spanish and the rain fell over the dreary  Nuevo León plain,” p. 34

“mud huts and a few factories and then nothing at all until the seal-grey mountains gathered slowly round, little outcrops of rock like sailing-ships on the horizon.” p. 36

“The dry and prickly desert: the cacti sticking up like pins with an effect of untidiness, and the night deepening. Paths went off into the dark gleaming with wet, going to nowhere one knew of at all.” p. 37

“For one can respect an atheist as one cannot respect a deist: once accept a God and reason should carry you further, but to accept nothing at all – that requires some stubbornness, some courage.” p. 37

“The cheers were everywhere, stretching out to the dim mountains: they weren’t cheers at all, but the cocks crowing for miles around, an odd Biblical rhapsody at dawn.” p. 39

“God didn’t cease to exist when men lost their faith in Him; there were always catacombs where the secret rite could be kept alive till the bad times passed” p. 39

“At dinner the old gentleman couldn’t get over the joke of it: here I’d been walking miles about town and he’d gone all round in one hour by street car – for five cents. American money. ‘But I like walking,’ I kept on telling him – uselessly. ‘I’m going to tell them that back home,’ he said, ‘about my English friend who walked all day and saved five cents American.'” p. 41

(San Luis Potosí) “Roads were like the lines on a map; you saw them meandering thinly for an immense distance, dying out at the margin among the rocks and cacti. The cacti had no beauty – they were like some simple shorthand sign for such words as ‘barrenness’ and ‘drought’; you felt they were less the product than the cause of this dryness, that they had absorbed all the water there was in the land and held it as camels do in their green, aged, tubular bellies. ” p. 42

“Everything is repeated there, even the blood sacrifices of the Aztecs; the age of Mexico falls on the spirit like a cloud.” p. 44

“‘If you are a philosopher,’ he rebuked me, ‘every place is the same. Why not Mexico?'” p. 52

“The veranda was crowded with politicians waiting for the General to appear, with guns on their hips, the holsters and the cartridge belts beautifully worked, a decorative death” p. 53

“The General sat in the front seat; the great back and rounded shoulders reminded me of Tommy Brock in Miss Beatrice Potter‘s book – ‘he waddled about by moonlight, digging things up'” p. 56

Illustration of Tommy Brock from The Tale of Mr. Tod (via wikimedia)

“Presently somebody thought of trying a switch and the light went obediently on, a bare globe beating on a cracked mirror, a few hard chairs, a miniature billiard table with a ragged cloth.” p. 57

“He was caught in a maze of friends and enemies with similar faces.” p. 58

“Somewhere far away a thunderstorm shifted cumbrously in the hills… like cargo unloaded in a railway-yard.” p. 60

Rural Rides by William Cobbet

To Mexico City “[Cobbet] judged landscape by its value to human beings… The Romantics would have enjoyed the Mexican scene, describing it as ‘sublime’ and ‘awe-inspiring’; they scented God in the most barren regions, as if He were a poet of escape whom it was necessary to watch tactfully through spy-glasses as He brooded beside a waterfall or on the summit of Helvellyn: as if God, disappointed in His final creation, had fallen back on one of His earlier works. They preferred the kind of Nature which rejects man.” p. 61

Tacuba area in Mexico City. See Tlacopan

Map of “Valley of Mexico on the eve of the Spanish conquest of Mexico.” Via Wikimedia.

José Clemente Orozco

See mural Entering the Mine by Rivera (Murals by Diego Rivera in the Secretaria de Educacion Publico)


“All monuments in Mexico are to violent deaths.” p. 80

“In the great grey courtyard of Teotihuacán, surrounded by the platforms of small pyramidal temples, you do get the sense of a continent over the world’s edge – a flatness, a vacancy, through which peer plumed serpents and faces like gas-masks over over orifices that might be the mouths of Lewis guns or flamethrowers.” p. 82

Virgen de Guadalupe 

“But this shrine of Guadalupe, even at the height of the persecution, remained open – no government dared to rob the Indian of his Virgin, and it helped to break the career of the only man who ever threatened it.” p. 87

“The Virgin of Guadalupe, like St Joan in France, had become identified not only with the faith but with the country, she was a patriotic symbol even to the faithless…” p. 88

“I didn’t like the serious way he took this matter of the insurance; this was graveyard talk. The boat couldn’t be as bad as all that.” p. 101

“We climbed over the rail with the suitcase, and a sailor led the way down a few stairs into the engine-room, where one old greasy engine say like an elephant neglected in its tiny house.” p. 101

“breakfast was handed up through a hatch in the deck from the engine-room – a loaf of bread and a plate of anonymous fish scraps from which the eyeballs stood mournfully out.” p. 105

“Shark fins glided like periscopes at the entrance to the Grijalva River, the scene of the Conquistadores’ first landing in Mexico” 105-106

Villahermosa, Tabasco

“The vultures squatted on the roofs. It was like a place besieged by scavengers – sharks in the river and vultures in the streets.” p. 107

“For twelve hours there had been nothing but trees on either side; one had moved forward only into darkness; and here with an effect of melodrama was a city – lights burning down into the river, a great crown outlined in electricity like a casino. All felt the shock – it was like coming to Venice through an uninhabited jungle – they called, triumphantly, ‘El puerto, el puerto!'” p. 111

Dr Thorne by Anthony Trollope

“I went back to the hotel to bed and began to read Dr Thorne… A cockchafer came buzzing and beating through the room and I turned out the light – the light went out all over Barsetshire, the hedges and hte rectories and paddocks dropped into darkness,” p. 114

“It will be a fine journey, the man said, if you can make it – you’ll know what Cortés had to face in heavy armour on his march to Guatemala.” p. 116

“I had won twenty pesos with my first ticket. That sold the lottery to me: I bought at least a small share in a ticket in every town I came to, but never won again.” p. 117

“In the night beetles woke me, thumping against the wall. I killed two – one in the very centre of the great tiles floor, but when I woke there wasn’t a sign of it. It was uncanny.” p. 118

A Victorian Adventurer (p. 118-122)

The frontispiece for the 1638 edition of Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy. Via Wikimedia.

“In West Africa once I had made the mistake of taking the Anatomy of Melancholy, with the idea that it would, as it were, match the mood. It matched all right, but what one really needs is contrast, and so I surrendered perhaps my only hope of ever reading War and Peace in favour of something overwhelmingly national.” p. 128

“Ortega’s little red plane moved back across the merciless sky, like an insect on a mirror, towards Villahermosa. I had a sense of being marooned… ” p. 132

“The fireflies moved like brilliant pocket torches, and a small boy stood by the track with a flaming brand making mysterious animal noises into the dark.” p. 134

“I dreamed of a Mr Wang, also known as Mr Moon, who was to guide me – somewhere. He was dressed in the most extravagant robes – all silk and gold embroidery and dragons” p. 134

“the two mules swimming beside the canoe, with just their muzzles and their eyes above the water like a pair of alligator heads,” p. 135

***”Then the sound of horses came beating up across the plain – this is the romantic attraction of the Mexican countryside, the armed stranger travelling at night who may be a friend of an enemy. The door of the hut was barred shut. A horse whistled, stirrup irons jangled; when the lightning flared I could see four horses, and a man dismounting. He felt his way across the veranda and knocked at the door – ‘Con amistad.'” p.

“I learned from her for the first time of the rather wild dream that buoys up many people in Chiapas: the hope of a rising which will separate Chiapas, Tabasco, Yucatán, and Quintana Roo from the rest of Mexico and of an alliance with Catholic Guatemala.” p. 153

“Time passed; I saw the mule climbing briskly up the opposite slope, the size of a toy animal, and fifty yards behind it a toy man. Then they both disappeared altogether, and dusk began to fall. I was alone with the two mules – it seemed to be the end of that journey.
“In the mountains the sun sets early – the horizon is high up the sky. I waited half an hour; the sun dropped out of sight, the forests became black below their gilded tips. The world was all steel and gold, like war. The opposite slope dropped into obscurity, untenanted.” p. 164

“The guide couldn’t put up in their presence that Mexican façade of bonhomie – the embrace, the spar, the joke – with which they hide from themselves the cruelty and treachery of their life.” p. 167

“When we rode up the beds heaved on their piles and rows of eyes peered out of the darkness like a cave of cats: there wasn’t an inch of space to spare in the windswept shelter.” p. 168

“About eleven a fist beating on the barred door woke us all. I switched on my torch and saw the doubtful bearded faces lifted from the beds; somebody felt for his revolver holster, and then the password came, ‘Con amistad.'” p. 168

A Grove of Crosses “The scenery was magnificent: the great pine forests swept down to where we trudge at a mere six thousand feet, great rocky precipices showed like grey castle walls through breaks in the pines.” p. 169

“It was like a scene from the past before the human race had bred its millions – England of the Conquest before the forests had been cut, a herd called Sweyn, the wattle huts, the word of Ivanhoe.”

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

“It was like an adventure of Rider Haggard – coming so unexpectedly out of the forest above this city, once the capital of Chiapas and the home of Las Casas, a place with one rough road, impassable in the rains, running down to Tuxtla and the coast, and only a mule track for the traveller from the north.” p. 171

“I felt my incredulity shaken. Suppose there was a miracle, suppose out of some box a voice did speak… it was horrifying thought that life could never be the same again; one couldn’t go on living as one had been living. What happens afterwards to the people who are present at a genuine miracle?”

Mixtec ruins

“We stopped at a cantina, and had some mescal – the driver told me it was good for dysentery. I don’t think it was, but it was good for our spirits.” p. 198

Puebla’s Hidden Convent “In a glass of case enclosed in a reliquary was the founder’s withered heart, the colour of long-dried blood.” p. 203

“For the first time since I came to Mexico I could see the great volcano Popocatepetl, a cone of ice bobbing between the woods and peaks, over the decaying churches, like the moon outliving everything. It was beautiful, but I was more concerned with the incompetence of the drive.” p. 205

Garci Crespo “I had to ask him several times before I got it, and every time he nodded more winningly, darkly, knowingly – as if I were insisting on the letter of a code. When I was undressing, the glass of the door darkened; somebody scratched, scratched at the pane: it was the waiter. I asked him what he wanted; he merely grinned and said hadn’t I asked for a Garci Crespo? I slammed the door shut nad a little while later he came padding up the passage and scratched again. I shouted to him to go and turned out the light, but for a long while the small vicious shadow waited, with the patience of a snake, on the other side of the glass.” p. 206

Taxco is the showplace of the Mexican tourist belt – old Mexico carefully preserved by a society of business men and American artists known as ‘The Friends of Taxco’. It is the Greenwich Village of Mexico” p. 208

Tempest Over Mexico by Rosa E.King (Zapata rising)

The Escapist (218-222)

“Somewhere I suppose, the Ruiz Cano rolled from Vercruz or Villahermosa and back and the sailors stood about doing up their trousers; the dentists was back at El Frontera; and the Norwegian lady waited with hopeless optimism for her son’s return. It is awful how things go on when you are not there.” p. 223

The Wheel by W. B. Yeats (p. 223)

Through winter-time we call on spring,
And through the spring on summer call,
And when abounding hedges ring
Declare that winter’s best of all;
And after that there s nothing good
Because the spring-time has not come –
Nor know that what disturbs our blood
Is but its longing for the tomb.

To read

Greene’s The Power and the Glory, Journey Without Maps, The Heart of the Matter, The Third Man (film treatment), Our Man in Havana.

Beatrice Potter

W. B. Yeats


Caste War of Yucatán

Project Gutenberg (free e-books)





jornada del muerto

read about jornada del muerto, old conquistador trail in the virreinato de nueva españa and the site of the trinity atomic bomb test.

(bandera del virreinato de nueva españa / wikimedia)

santa fe to mexico city: camino real de tierra adentro.


watched foxcatcher (2014) bennett miller

to see

i walked with a zombie (1943)  jacques tourneur