Two publications lay side by side on a battered wooden table among vintage postcards, old election campaign buttons and various odds and ends; all covered by a layer of dust that hadn’t stirred since 1967.
“The haciendas,” proclaimed the gaudy tourism brochure breathlessly “are a living example of our glorious past!”
The history book; serious, dark and its pages turned far too infrequently, looked over, skeptical.
“You’re kidding, right?” it asked.
“The pseudo-French classic and baroque architecture; the grand arches!!” insisted the brochure. “The elegant soirees that the distinguished Yucatecan landowners had in gardens perfumed by citric limonaria shrubs and gingerbread allspice trees.”
“You’re delusional,” muttered the history book, returning it’s gaze tiredly to the spiderweb-infested ceiling of the tienda de antiguedades in Merida’s overcooked and overcrowded centro.
“Ever hear of ’12 Years a Slave’ – the movie?” The history book seriously doubted that the tourism brochure had done much of anything that wasn’t of a superficial nature.
“The furniture was brought from Europe and was the epitome of refined culture and taste!” replied the tourism brochure, giddy with excitement. “You too can experience this marvellous lifestyle in many newly restored former henequen haciendas that have been turned into five-star hotels!!”
The history book declined to comment further as it would have been a fruitless undertaking to try and convince the tourism brochure that it’s spiel was not only ridiculous but also myopic as it completely glossed over all the human misery that hacienda life entailed. But, it couldn’t resist one last remark. “Glorious, indeed,” the history book snorted derisively, “unless you were brown.”
“Oh shush,” the tourism brochure whispered, “why are you always so negative?”
“Not sure,” answered the history book, “perhaps I’ve got a lot on my mind.”
“The immaculately restored-to-its-former-magnificence machine room with its high ceilings is now a culinary destination worthy of Adriá!” the tourism brochure continued.
The history book sighed a tired sigh.