A few Christmas ago, as a present, someone gave me the book El Ultimo Mundo, from Laura Emilia Pacheco. I put it on the waiting list right away. I thought it was going to be just yellow press and I am so sorry I had that thought. I judge it wrong by its cover.
This reporter goes beyond just informing, she wants you to live the news. Wrote in first person, she makes you feel more than just reading a newspaper, you live what she writes, you are part of the story or history. Her writings inquire about the day-today, which for some is supernatural and vice versa… the supernatural, which for some is their day-to.day. A book read on three hot May afternoons with a fresh lavender with mint tea. Thanks Emilia, for this refreshing reading!
They are not the official titles given by the author, but to mention some of my favorite parts, paragraphs or phrases, I will divide them with titles:
This mural in Calakmul is known as “la sabrosa” by its locals. La sabrosa´s translation would be “the tasty”, possibly because of the see-through dress. All those murals are also known as “las pinturas azules” (“the blue paintings”), which seems more adequate and respectful for me. Image taken from: https://www.letraslibres.com/mexico/viaje-al-corazon-calakmul
“el estuco, cargado de humedad, se siente terso, fresco, como la piel humana. Parece viva. En más de un sentido lo está. El tiempo no ha logrado envejecerla.”
“The stucco, loaded with moisture, feels smooth, fresh, like human skin. She seems alive. In more ways than one, she is. Time has not managed to age her. “
Calakmul left a scar
I loved the way in which, through the metaphor of a scar, the author explained that, when you travel, some places can leave a mark or trace… either physical or invisible but permanent to the soul…
“Mientras exista aunque sea la exigua luz de una vela, un cerillo, una sola estrella, las sombras pueden guiar a la claridad. Ahora, a medida que me alejo de Calakmul, a plena luz del día descubro una cicatriz en mi pierna derecha. Se ve como una constelación. Pero hace mucho que ya no tengo un buscador de estrellas. No sé si habrá algún instrumento que me ayude a descifrar el significado de esta extraña señal que me dejo la huella indeleble de Calakmul.”
“As long as there is even the meager light of a candle, a match or a single star; shadows can guide us to clarity. Now, as I move away from Calakmul, during daylight I discover a scar on my right leg. It looks like a constellation. But I do not have a star finder with me. I do not know if there will be an instrument that will help me decipher the meaning of this strange sign that left me the indelible mark of Calakmul. “
In two different chapters, she talks about two wifes. One chapter, the wife´s story was during the earthquake in México in 1985. The other one, in an artisan community.
After mentioning the devastating results (political, social and economical) of the 1985 earthquake, the Laura Emilia gives the reader some sense of hope to new beginings in the middle of the storm, or, in this case, the earthquake…
“Una señora le suplicó a la trabajadora social que no le dijera a su marido que ella y sus tres hijas habían sobrevivido. Quería huir del maltrato y los golpes a que las sometía.”
“A lady begged the social worker not to tell her husband that she and her three daughters had survived. She wanted to run away from his abusive husband that used to hit the three of them”.
In the counterpart, an artisan waits for her husband, who went in search of a better life “crossing the pond” while she spends his days making clothes or necklaces. And this way her life is being woven …
Vintage Society vs Modern Society
In this chapter she just made me feel nostalgic, and confirmed me the fact that I should have been born in another era but keeping myself one important value: freedom. I would have definitely keep being a feminist, even in the roaring 30s…
“En el siglo XX se decía que el servicio postal, el teléfono, el telégrafo, la radio, la televisión y el periódico habían matado al género epistolar. Con el advenimiento de internet y del correo electrónico, se transformóó para siempre la velocidad con la que se íntercambian los mensajes y, claro está, también su contenido y la forma de las cartas que, en el siglo XXI, son casi todas virtuales. No es lo mismo recibir un e-mail y un attachment que una flor prensada, el fragmento de una vestimenta, una hoja de papel que evoca el sitio del que proviene y el aroma de su remitente. No es lo mismo presionar send que ponerle una estampillada a un sobre que intentará sortear todos los obstáculos a fin de llegar a manos de su destinatario. La fugacidad, el nerviosismo y la premura actuales ya no saben esperar al placer ni al amor.
Gracias al clic de un ratón, el mundo se ha reducido al tamaño de una cabeza de alfiler. Sin embargo, es curioso que mientras más herramientas tenemos para comunicarnos, menos nos conocemos; más espesos se vuelven los muros que nos rodean, más agudas las diferencias, más violentas las reacciones para afirmar la individualidad.”
“In the twentieth century it was said that the postal service, the telephone, the telegraph, the radio, the television and the newspaper had killed the epistolary genre. With the arrival of internet and e-mail, the speed in which messages are interchanged has been transformed forever, and of course, its content too. In the 21st century, letters are almost all virtual. It is not the same to receive an e-mail and an attachment as a pressed flower, the fragment of a dress, a sheet of paper that evokes the site from which it comes and the aroma of its sender. It is not the same to press send, as to put a stamp on an envelope that will try to overcome all the obstacles in order to reach the hands of its recipient. The current fugacity, nervousness and haste of not knowing how to wait for pleasure or love.
Thanks to the click of a mouse, the world has been reduced to the size of a pinhead. However, it is curious that the more tools we have to communicate, the less we know each other; the thicker the walls that surround us become, the more acute the differences, the more violent the reactions to affirm individuality. “
She gaves us another life metaphor about her trip to Scotland…
“… alcancé a ver lo que me parecieron dos jorobas en el agua y una estela en medio del lago. Estoy segura. Había algo allí. Traté de llamar la atención de madre e hijo, pero todo ocurrió con la velocidad con la que se ve una estrella fugaz en el firmamento. En un instante está y al siguiente desaparece. Entendí entonces que, tal vez, la felicidad nos pasa por enfrente, pero estamos tan ocupados en lamentarnos de nuestras carencias que no la vemos. Me gustó saber que, sin importar el frío, el lago Ness no se congela jamás. Decidí seguir su ejemplo o, al menos, tratar…”
“… I got to see what I thought were two humps in the water in the middle of the lake. I’m sure. There was something there. I tried to draw the attention of mother and son, but everything happened with the speed in which you see a shooting star in the sky. In an instant it is and the next, it disappears. I understood then that, maybe, happiness passes us by too, but we are so busy complaining about our shortcomings that we do not see it. I liked knowing that, no matter how cold, Loch Ness never freezes. I decided to follow his example or, at least, try …”
And finally, she left her last pages to describe how she visited the “Excelsior” building. His father wrote for that newspaper. I can not describe how much I relished this pages, each word was so descriptive that she made you feel as if you were making her some company while she waited for her dad. She made me feel like asking for some “revolution” paper in order to ask the little girl version of the author to play with you with paper planes.
***** 5 stars*****
A book that I judged of half a star before reading it, and ended up being a 5 star worthy book. It can not be compared with something I have read before… I can only compare it with the movie “Roma” by Cuarón, because of her descriptions and the way she makes you a time traveler.
who should read it? Readers searching for something different, or for the lovers of the news, but its narrative seems boring and repetitive. For those who see magic in their day-to-day. For those who, like me, love their “México lindo y querido”.