By Terry Pindell, Lourdes Ramirez Mallis
Since 1988, Terry Pindell has been exploring North the USA, looking integration of prior and current, heritage and headlines. the outcome has been 3 hugely acclaimed publication spinning a stunning internet of tradition, humans, commute, and sociology. Now, in his fourth quest for the soul of the continent, Pindell brings us his fullest heritage and so much expansive cultural portrait yet.
Yesterday's Train begins from a twisted tree on the shore close to Veracruz—where in accordance with neighborhood legend Cortes first chained his ships in 1519—a position the place the earth itself turns out in protest. From there, Pindell and collaborator Lourdes Ramirez Mallis trip to the beautiful extremes of Mexico's panorama whereas casting again via its previous. From historical Toltec fantasy and Aztec ritual to the new problem in Chiapas and the halls of Mexico urban strength, they discover the unusual contradictions of Mexico's character.
Journeying normally via educate, Pindell and Ramirez Mallis realize a...
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Extra info for Yesterday's Train. A Rail Odyssey Through Mexican History
During our travels there were no dining or lounge cars. Apparently these services come and go with the vicissitudes of politics and management in the Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México (FNM), or Mexican National Railways. But on all Mexican trains the usual prohibition against standing in open vestibules is cheerfully unenforced, and the outside rear platform becomes a delightful substitute for the bar car with open-air advantages of its own. First class special is intended to match Amtrak’s regular coach on long-distance runs.
There is the bridge and the Rio Grande—muddy green and slow—less grand than I expected. It’s narrow here, an easy swim. The downtowns of American Laredo and Mexican Nuevo Laredo are both built right to the edge of the bluffs above the river. This looks less like an international border than the center of a typical river city. Mexican kids on the bridge have their hands out offering to carry our bags. Others simply panhandle. Even at the middle of the bridge out over the river, the air is still and heavy with the smells of bodies and diesel exhaust.
Yes, we know,” they say. The conductor leaves and later we see him talking congenially with them for the rest of the trip. They always ride this way, they tell us. There is no provision in their work rules for transportation to the point where the trains they work begin. Those trains simply would have no engineers if they didn’t hop this train illegally. We see this pattern again when the conductor returns to the open back platform and tells us that passengers are not allowed to ride here. “Gracias,” we say, but stay right where we are, sharing a beer and smoking a cigarette.