Tuesday, November 18, 2014

On the Road, Mexican Style

Just read Hugh Thomson's Tequila Oil: Getting Lost in Mexico. At 18, naive yet self-confident, Thomson decided to fly to Mexico in the summer of '79 between school and university. He ended up buying a gas-guzzling Oldsmobile 98 for $500 in El Paso, and driving it south where he would sell it for "a handsome profit" in Belize. Well that was the plan. Along the way he crashed it several times, surfed, got into scrapes with the police, managed a golf course and got mugged. 
It's a kind of modern day On the Road, with some interesting observations on Cortes, the Mayans, Aztecs, Pancho Villa and writers like Greene, Huxley and Waugh who visited Mexico in the late 1930s. For an 18 year old punk, he seems unreasonably world-weary... but then he did write it 30 years later.
Thomson went on to write several other books and make a number of excellent documentaries, including Indian Journeys with William Dalyrimple and Joanna Lumley in the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon (Bhutan), plus the epic Dancing in there Street: a Rock and Roll History.

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