Sliced Iguana: Travels in Mexico

Overview

Behind the fa?ade of sombreros and tequila, tourist traps and holiday resorts, there lies a very different Mexico. In Sliced Iguana Isabella Tree explores a country that is the heart and lifeblood of the Americas, a country of extremes and contradictions. In a land so markedly shaped by machismo, she finds a town controlled by arm-wrestling matriarchs and party-mad transvestites and in war-torn Chiapas she discovers shamans worshipping Mayan gods inside Catholic churches and conducting exorcisms with the aid of ...

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Overview

Behind the façade of sombreros and tequila, tourist traps and holiday resorts, there lies a very different Mexico. In Sliced Iguana Isabella Tree explores a country that is the heart and lifeblood of the Americas, a country of extremes and contradictions. In a land so markedly shaped by machismo, she finds a town controlled by arm-wrestling matriarchs and party-mad transvestites and in war-torn Chiapas she discovers shamans worshipping Mayan gods inside Catholic churches and conducting exorcisms with the aid of Pepsi. At a graveside vigil on the Night of the Dead she encounters the last delicate vestige of a pre-Columbian cult that elsewhere has morphed into an Americanised Halloween. With a group of Huichol Indians, perhaps the last truly autonomous tribe in the entire American continent, she participates in rituals using peyote, the hallucinogenic cactus, to bring rain to the drought-stricken sierra and appease the forces of Nature so recklessly abused by the conquistadors and their successors.

Through her narrative Isabella Tree threads the brightly coloured history of Mexico and tells the stories of the people that have defined its fractured past and will shape its future - kings and conquistadors, politicians and rebels, shamans and priests, mestizos and indigenous Indians. This is a story of Mexico like no other, capturing the essence of its psyche and illuminating the struggles and hopes of a people and a country on the cusp of change.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An eccentric heroine." Best Travel Book, 2002, Marie Claire

"Reading Sliced Iguana convinced me that I was actually in Mexico and the author’s relaxed, evocative style gave the country an exciting and endearing appeal. This book is a readable, informative and humorous account of a country that is little-known by its own people and even less by the outside world." Bookseller’s Choice

"Here is a book that goes some way towards throwing light on Mexico’s multicultural mix and its rich and bloody history… It’s clear she’s having enormous fun, but she is also attempting something serious here: to engage with and understand something of Mexico’s indigenous culture and its survival into the 21st century. Tree's second travel book confirms the promise of Islands in the Clouds: she is an accomplished traveller and a fresh and rewarding writer." Anthony Sattin, Book of the Week, The Sunday Times

"She has an array of qualities that fit her for writing about wild and remote places; insight, sympathy, courage, a lucid and colourful fluency, humour that makes many of her pages hilarious." Patrick Leigh Fermor

"One of the most accomplished travel writers to appear on the horizon for many years." Eric Newby

"Sliced Iguana is a gem of a book which shines in every direction; it is heartfelt and penetrating, poignant and touched throughout by irresistible humour. But the author's greatest achievement is to have plunged fearlessly beneath the surface of the culture it explores to produce a work that is truly relevant to our time." Jason Elliot

"Isabella Tree's rare amd exciting talent is taking travel writing into a new dimension." Alexander Frater

"Wry, perceptive, intelligent and irreverently funny… the best of travel writing. Wonderfully successful." The Times Literary Supplement

"Everything about Isabella Tree’s [Sliced Iguana] is as bright and fresh as a desert dawn. Wide-eyed and sharp-penned, she explores not the backwater myth but a fast-evolving semi-continent… Tree mixes her erudition with ebullience. Such a relief to meet a travel writer who actually has fun." Independent

"Masterly and moving… Sliced Iguana combines solid factual foundations with real insight and is an honourable contribution to the literature of this most baffling and beguiling of countries." Katie Hickman, Literary Review

"Her talent for picking apart a country before sewing it back together is remarkable. Brilliant, funny, gripping, sensitive. The warmth and wit of Sliced Iguana will ensure that Mexico is never underestimated by gringos again." The Times

"An excellent, highly readable account of this huge, fascinating country. Tree deftly intercuts her personal experience with a fluent precis of the region's tragic past and its cultural origins. Her readings of Mesoamerican civilisation and history are unerringly secure." The Guardian

"I was as hooked as if I'd been reading fiction. The magic of Tree's writing is that she takes us with her on the journey. By the end of her story, I was ready to book my plane ticket." Traveller

"Entertaining, erudite... with infectious enthusiasm. Sliced Iguana makes an intriguing introduction to the world of the indigenous people of Mexico." Daily Telegraph

"A fine example of what travel writing can achieve when it’s done well. With a sense of wonder and excitement [and] packed with exotica, crammed with reflections and insights, Sliced Iguana shows just how much more there is to Mexico than tequila and chillies." Daily Mail

"Tree writes with an impressive erudition about the conquistadors and the indigenous peoples whose lives they shattered forever. She has a connoisseur's eye for colonial architecture, and her observations are perceptive and thought-provoking. Her writing is sharp and illuminating, and this is likely to be among the best travel books published this year." Toby Green

"The author's love of Mexico is there for all to see." The Express

"Oneo f the book'sp leasures is luxuriating in the writer's ilterary style. She has a fine sense of the poetic, the metaphoric, and the ironic, but it never impedes the flow of the prose." - Mexico City News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781845114961
  • Publisher: I. B.Tauris & Company, Limited
  • Publication date: 3/4/2008
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.52 (w) x 7.39 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Isabella Tree is an acclaimed author and award-winning travel journalist and was, from 1993 to 1995, senior travel correspondent at the Evening Standard. She has written several highly praised books including The Bird Man: The Extraordinary Story of John Gould and Islands in the Clouds: Travels in the Highlands of New Guinea, which was shortlisted for the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award. She writes for the Sunday Times, Evening Standard, Observer and Conde Nast Traveller and her work has also appeared in Reader's Digest Today's Best Non-Fiction, Rough Guides Women Travel and The Best American Travel Writing.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements     xiii
Author's Note     xv
Map of Mexico     xvi
Introduction to the Second Edition     xix
Urban Leviathan - Mexico City     1
Holy Week - San Miguel de Allende     69
A Week of Impiety - Juchitan     120
Secret Wars in the Cloud Forest - Chiapas     166
Night of the Dead - Lake Patzcuaro     219
Visions from the Sierra - Huichol Country     256
Epilogue - Mexican Miracles     309
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Informative, amusing, illuminating

    SLICED IGUANA
    By Isabella Tree
    Tauris Park Paperbacks
    New York 2008

    The year 2010 marks the bi-centennial of Mexico's independence as well as the 100th anniversary of the start of the revolution. Therefore, Mexicans and Mexican lovers alike will be prone to put the country's history under the magnifying glass to better capture that which is Mexico.
    A good way for them to begin might be to curl up with a copy of Isabella Tree's "Sliced Iguana". What a treat! Not only has the author selected several locations that are unabashedly Mexican, but she has gone far beneath the surface to bring out the joie de vivre of the Mexican experience. She has a knack for bringing time and space together. She can describe history, even 500 years ago, on the same page as her checking into a hotel in Mexico City. Throughout the book, her daily conversations, meanderings and musings are interrupted with digressions on histories or the meanings behind the events she is witnessing in Mexico. These digressions, however, come across not as historical treatises, but as friendly conversations between herself and the reader. If anything, Sliced Iguana gives the reader a new appreciation for Mexico with its innumerable dimensions.

    Bruce Stores has lived in Mexico since 1995, currently residing in the city of Oaxaca. He is author of the historical fiction book, THE ISTHMUS: Stories from Mexico's Past, 1495 to 1995, iUniverse 2009.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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