From Across the Yucatán with a Ragtag Carny Crew, my Global Prowl column published at PopMatters.com, 17 February 2011:
…Wandering around town at night is like being on the set of Touch of Evil: the town’s garbage provides the mise-en-scène.
The centro historico of Mérida is densely populated. The even numbered streets run vertically and the odds horizontally. Once you understand that it’s easy to navigate. Most of the streets, perhaps all of them, are one-way and narrow. The footpaths are narrow, too. For some reason there are plenty of ancient VW beetles on the road. I was able to play ‘punchbuggy’ for the first time since childhood. Few of the buildings in the city are taller than two storeys. At night on the corners you find stalls selling hot dogs, churros, tacos, and tamales. Plenty of news kiosks, too, with a relaxed attitude to selling soft- and hard-core pornography. Across Mexico papers such as El Grafico and La Prensa put photos of headless bodies, victims of the drug cartels, on the front page.
While in Mérida I happened upon an English translation of the Carlos Fuentes novel Las Buenas Conciencias at the English Library. It’s about the city of Guanajuato. Only now, a few weeks after the death of Fuentes, did I get around to reading it.