Back to Mexico.

I’m back in Mexico for 5 lovely months. Here: sea, sand, sunshine, outdoor pools, beachside restaurants… In Ontario: snow, frost, ice, slippery roads, cleaning car windows daily, taking ten minutes to put on boots, coat, scarf, hat, gloves; if you have children, much longer…

Those are some of the reasons that I love Mexico. I have probably been coming here for months at a time for nearly thirty years. And here is another reason I love it: the people.

When people learn I have been going to Mexico for so many years, most will ask an inevitable question. (Even before Covid.) ‘Do you feel safe?’ I will leave aside the implication that I am so stupid as to go somewhere where I feel unsafe and limit myself to saying that I have only once felt unsafe. No need to go into that as nothing came of it.

There is a feeling among people who haven’t been here that the Mexican people are all thieves who will rob you at the drop of a hat. So, a couple of anecdotes to refute that piece of anal waste.

I once left my camera in a bar and headed off. When I realised I had forgotten it, my husband and I drove back and asked the person behind the bar. He told me another guy was working at that time and sent someone to fetch him. This guy, young, maybe early twenties, showed up with my camera. I tried to reward him with a few pesos, but he wouldn’t accept it. We had to buy drinks and give him a larger tip than usual. That he accepted.

On another occasion, my husband unknowingly dropped his keys on the beach. Someone found them and then found the car by beeping it. Obviously, he had a perfect opportunity to steal it. Instead, he wrote a note in the dust on the back giving his telephone number! Not satisfied with that, he then figured if we were no longer on the beach, we were probably in one of the beachside bar/restaurants and he went among them asking if anyone had lost keys until he found us. Again, he refused a reward.

I could go on, not only with my own experiences but also with people with whom we have swapped anecdotes over the years. We have never had a negative experience with the people of our community.

Yes, there are cops who try to hustle us if they catch us doing something on the roads that Mexicans would get away with. And yes, there is certainly a drug trade. But there are bad people everywhere. And there are good. I think the Mexican people get a bad rap.

If you disagree, come down and find out for yourself.

A Canopy of Stars by Stephen Taylor

Set in the early 19th century, this courtroom drama is an indictment of anti-Semitism, which began two centuries BCE and is an ongoing evil today.

David Neander arrives in England to start a new life. Two days later, he is accused of stealing half a sheep, arrested and brought to trial. It becomes obvious that the judge is prejudiced by the fact that David is a Jew and regards him as a low-life. The valuation of the half-sheep is 40 shillings, which makes the theft a capital crime and worthy of the death penalty. David is found guilty and sentenced to death. This part of the story is based on a true event that the author read about.

Julia Carmichael wanted to be a lawyer like her father, but since that is impossible she becomes his clerk. She is in the courtroom for David’s trial and is furious at what she sees as an egregious miscarriage of justice. After visiting David in prison, she determines to save him from the hangman. Their association blossoms into a restricted romance.

This is more than just a courtroom drama. The author takes us on a journey through the previous four years of David’s life where we see that far from being a low-life, he is an exceptional young man who has risen from a family tragedy to become a translator, a poet, and a pugilist. The latter skill proves very useful as he makes his way from Germany to England, only to run afoul of the law.

David is a thoroughly decent man and Julia is a determined, loyal and compassionate young woman who refuses to give up in spite of setbacks. On his journey, David meets some interesting characters. My favourite is Old Musketeer, named after the gun that blinded him, a more self-reliant man than most sighted people.

The historical aspects of the story – justice in 29th century England, anti-Semitism in Germany, and more – were enlightening. One little niggle – too much description of David’s fights, literally blow by blow, became tedious. I skipped through them, so they did not spoil my enjoyment of the book.

****

I reviewed this book for Discovering Diamonds

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