Another brilliant book from The Boy’s shelves. I picked this up when I found myself in a house in the countryside, with a storm raging outside, and no book to read. If I’m completely honest, I expected nothing more from it than to help me pass the time until supper. I thought this would be just a book full of the silly things boys tend to do when they are alone and in a foreign country.
I have to admit that I was wrong. I mean, yes, there are a lot of idiotic things that the author did as he embarked on this adventure in Mexico when he was 18. Which are quite funny and fun to read. But this book is more than just a young punk being drunk in Mexico in 1979. It is a very well written travel memoir, full of insight on this wild, strange country and its residents and its history. Sure, Thomson is drunk or hangover for a big part of the book, but his adventures have something very romantic about them. He discovered, and along with him so does the reader, a hidden part of Mexico, offering insights not just on places that are way off the map but also on the spirit of the country.
This isn’t a detached kind of travel guide, just like we are warned by the author in the beginning, this is a very personal journal. Which is why it’s full of wit and charm and it is very intelligently told. Another thing that I greatly appreciated was Thomson’s respect and keen interest for the Mayan civilization and all the fascinating bits of information he shares as he stumbles upon temples and ruins of cities.
Tequila Oil turned out to be a delightful book that made me fall a little bit in love with a time and a place that is now in the distant past. I’m now looking forward to reading Hugh Thomson’s other travel books set in Latin America. And I will perhaps try to be a bit more open to reading outside my comfort zone.
PS It’s funny how in the oddest of places you can find a lovely quote about books and reading, isn’t it?
“Books mattered because they led readers to places they would not otherwise have dreamed of going, not only geographical places, but also places of the spirit and the emotions.”