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Nothing to Declare Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone

ISBN 014009587X / 9780140095876 / 0-14-009587-X

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Book summary

Great travel writing has always been about the person making the trip as well as the things he or she encounters, and Mary Morris's category-defying 1988 memoir was an instant classic as much for its candid revelation of the author's turbulent emotions as for its sensitive, unglamorous portrait of a Latin America most tourists never see. Living in a poor neighborhood of the small Mexican town San Miguel de Allende, Morris befriends a neighbor, Lupe, who is struggling to support her many children (fathered by three different men) and to cope with her current, openly unfaithful partner. Scenes of life in San Miguel alternate with Morris's voyages around Central America, from the historic ruins of Teotihuacán to the contemporary turmoil of Nicaragua under the Sandinistas. Memories of her past crowd in: her parents' tense marriage, which sparked the restlessness that keeps their daughter on the road; her difficult relationships with often cruel men; the desolation of the years prior to her departure for San Miguel. Neither her affection for Lupe nor her love affair with a Mexico City man can prevent Morris's eventual return to the U.S., but her eloquent, elegant prose makes it clear that the grim, grand landscape and its tenacious inhabitants have left an indelible imprint on her soul. --Wendy Smith [via]