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Fri June 15, 2012
Good Read: "Mexico As I Saw It" by Ethel Alec-Tweedie
“Why did I choose Mexico?” has continually been asked. Because, with all the world before me, that land seemed to offer a more historic past than almost any other country on God’s earth, and was there not a spice of danger and romance yet lurking among its hills and valleys? There, men still carried arms; no one dare do other-wise, for, although seldom necessary, the mere fact of having them commands respect. Wild journeys on horse-back through the mountains, to old Aztec ruins, moreover, sounded inviting.
“Mrs. Alec Tweedie, born Ethel Brilliana Harley, was a pioneering travel writer. In this volume she displays a prodigious nerve, superb social connections, and an eye for “take you there” details. In this book of her adventures originally published in 1901, you ride a new railroad across Mexico on its maiden voyage. You ride a horse up to the mountain ruins Xochicalpa. There are family posadas at Christmas and fancy society festival gatherings. You crawl down into the Cacahuilmilpa caves, wonder at Mitla’s tombs and experience a rain forest by riverboat going across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. She’s savvy, snobbish in her descriptions of most of Mexico’s indigenous peoples, and seemingly fearless — but then again, she is provided with competent tour guides, available lodgings and guards. Amazon.com carries many other Tweedie titles, like A Winter Jaunt to Norway, Through Finland in Carts, and Russia as I Saw It, and I’ll wager that each might have its own oddly smart and fresh, albeit dated, observations I enjoyed in Mexico As I Saw It.” – Kate Lochte