THE AIR OUTSIDE was humid and smelled of fajitas and rotten fish. Car lights streaked past, and the pedestrian parade on the Malecón seemed to be moving in slow motion. The only single girl of note was a short, boxy mestiza in a hotel uniform, shuffling through bus fumes after a day spent scouring bathrooms. I noticed a tiny silver cross at her neck—another long-suffering Mexican saint. She looked up as we passed one another, and the brief glance from her warm brown eyes gave rise to an unexpected shiver. It may have only been a flare of desire brought on by the buzz of the tequila, but it seemed that her eyes had revealed something darker—something like the mystery of Mexico itself.Dan had written about this more than once in the time he’d been traveling the country. I remember in particular a postcard he sent showing the monstrous, massive stone carving of Coatlicue, the Aztec earth goddess of fertility and death. He said the statue was a perfect example of his unjustly ignored anthropological thesis, “A Freudian Geography of the North American Mind.” In this dubious disquisition, the USA took the role of the ego, the lone pioneer on the vast Great Plains, the central, controlling, conscious will that dreamed and schemed and acted on the world. Canada was the superego, the hunter on the harsh, intolerant tundra, the high and mighty conscience of the Great White North. Lowly Mexico was the id, the crazed Nahuatl priest in the lush mountain jungle, the deep subconscious, teeming with untamed instincts and arcane imagery, ruled by a primitive nightmare logic. This was the ancient land of the Olmec, the Maya, the Toltec, and the Aztec. Of bloody human sacrifice, pyramids, and treasure. Of conquistadores and missionaries and zealous revolutionaries. A nation of greed and grief, of cruelty and corruption, of grinding poverty and religious fervor. A country that prayed to saints and danced with the devil. A country that celebrated death and the dead.
Had I glimpsed all that in the poor girl’s eyes?"
(excerpt from DARK GOLD)