Homenaje a Cancun
Cancun, despite whatever anybody may have told you, is a literary destination after all. It has fewer bookstores per capita than even Las Vegas. But to its credit, there is a Mayan guy who wanders up and down the beach with a sandwich board. It says, "Beer 20 pesos, Used books 15 pesos, Villanelles 30 pesos, Sestinas 30 pesos." Is this some kind of joke, I wonder. Evidently not. I spent a grand total of US$6.50. I got a very cold Superior beer with a slice of lime, a used copy of Roberto Bolano's Night in Chile, and a sestina. The sestina was unusual and somewhat disappointing. It was mostly words in Mayan but rounded itself out by having the rhymes in Spanish. I was impressed. Others might not be. But seriously, what kind of sestina can you get anywhere else for US$3.00? Or more bluntly, how many rhymes can you get for US$3.00, forget about what language they might be in.
In his novel, Diana, which is not his best work by a long shot, Carlos Fuentes complains about the quality of paper in Mexico. It's cheap, but the pen goes through the page, and the pages disintegrate in the humidity. The pages don't smell good either. OK. He won the Cervantes prize so he knows about this. And he's Mexican. Fine. So I needed a notebook on June 7, 2007. In Super Mar Caribe, my favorite small mini mart, I found one. It is perfect. It has squares on every page and on the cover a picture of Tweety Bird kicking a soccer ball and the logo of the Mexican Football Team. It's about the run up to the 2006 World Cup, and it says, "Nos vamos al mundial!!" It was US$2.50. It says in small print on the back that it was made in Chile. There are dozens more of these on the shelf. There are enough to give every single writer in Quintana Roo a chance. A chance to wander the beaches of Cancun selling beer and haikus, fruit juice and essays, ice cream and used books.