Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Read: Nothing to declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone by Mary Morris

When I realized that this travel memoir takes author Mary Morris to San Miguel, Mexico, I was a wee bit worried that it would be too similar to recent read, La Perdida (drugs, crime and scum of the earth star in this coming of age graphic novel). But while Morris meets her share of weird and unpleasant fellow expats in this small town, it is the friendship she develops with her neighbour, a local woman, Lupe, who is about the same age as Morris but whose path has taken a completely opposite route as she struggles to support her children, that blossoms and stands out.

Nothing To Declare
is not just a travel book but also an exploration of self as Morris sets up home in San Miguel, using it as a base from which she explores areas such as Honduras and Guatemala:
"As a traveler I can achieve a kind of high, a somewhat altered state of consciousness. I think it must be what athletes feel. I am transported out of myself, into another dimension in time and space. While the journey is on buses and across land, I begin another journey inside my head, a journey of memory and sensation, of past merging with present, of time growing insignificant."
However, Morris sometimes manages to put herself in silly situations, which made me throw up my hands and almost give up on her, and can be rather self-righteous. But I stuck with it, and it ended up being a pretty good read, even for this non-solo traveler.

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