People either love
Mexico or they hate it. Ron Butler's love affair with Mexico almost supersedes his love
for his son, Adrian, and daughter, Alexandrabut just almost.
Butler begins his saga as he and his wife, Greta, face divorce in "The
Breakup." She takes off for Guadalajara with the kids, thus beginning Butler's
"commute" to Mexico from New York to be with his children. Written in an
endearing style, this first part shows Butler's devotion to his children even though his
marriage is coming to an end. His description of a train trip from Guadalajara to Nogales
with his daughter is especially poignant.
The second part of the book deals with Butler's travels around Mexico over the next
several decades. Beginning in Nogales, he takes his readers on a Mexican adventure that is
at the same time lonely and full of pathos. He travels to the neighboring state of Sonora
from his new home in Tucson, visiting towns like Magdalena de Kino on his way to
From there, he takes his readers with him on a night ferry to La Paz in Baja California
Sur, then on to Los Cabos and other places on the mainland of Mexico.
Like Hemingway, Butler has a fascination with bullfighting. He talks about
"hanging out" with bullfighters "at a time when it was fashionable,"
as he and his schoolmates from the University of Arizona in Tucson headed across the
border at Nogales for fun and excitement. He shares his dining experience at a restaurant
in Monterrey with a bullfighting theme and stays in a former bullring turned hotel in
But Ron Butler also likes the unusual, the unique, the unreal. He describes
Guanajuato's mummy museum in vivid detail. Readers can almost taste the candies of Morelia
and smell the candles burning on the ofrendas, the altars erected throughout
Mexico for the Day of the Dead.
Art and music are also a big part of Butler's life. As he says, "Mexico City
lives, breathes, and personifies art." Mexican art and Ron Butler are inseparable.
His chapter on composer Augustin Lara, is especially notable, as he brings Lara and his
music closer to his readers through insights and his personal observations at the Augustin
Lara Museum in Veracruz.
Part Three features an assortment of short writings that didn't particularly fit in the
first two parts of the book. Here Butler tells his readers how to buy silver, takes them
inside one of Mexico's most famous cantinas, and brings them close to the legendary
Cantinflas in a rare interview with the comedian. He ends writing about what he
lovesbullfighting. This book is a must for anyone who loves Mexico the way Ron