Paul Theroux is a jerk — but still my favourite travel writer of all time.
He’s age-81 as I post. Still going strong.
Theroux says he’s mellowed. And I’d admit his most recent books are much more positive than his scathing critiques of the past.
In 2015, he published “Deep South” detailing four road trips through the southern states of the United States. Excellent.
In 2019 he published OnthePlainofSnakes: A Mexican Journey, his account of his extensive travels in his own car throughout Mexico.
In some ways it was a continuation of his Deep South investigation.
Near the start he recaps the deaths and damage done by the drug trade. The insatiable American market. The brutal competition in Mexico to supply it.
He does a terrific overview of illegal immigration before the pandemic. Mexico a net zero. Now mostly more desperate folks from Central America as well as many from India, the Caribbean, and even China.
Over the decades it’s gotten more and more difficult to cross the border illegally. And not because of any wall. Walls are considered a joke in Mexico.
In another instant, his comments come across as self-serving, as when he longs for a simpler Mexico with “inexpensive meals that were delicious, cheap motels that were comfortable, and friendly people who, out of politeness, seldom complained to outsiders of their dire circumstances: poor pay, criminal gangs, a country without good health care or pensions, crooked police, cruel soldiers, and a government indifferent to the plight of most citizens.” …
I was amused to read of all the time Paul paid bribes to crooked cops. An conspicuous car with Massachusetts licence plates — a sitting duck.
Theroux is mostly critical of ReTrumplicans. I like that too, of course.
“The per capita income in Oaxaca is the same as in Kenya and Bangladesh,” Theroux says.
“You’re dealing with people who have very little money and get very little help from the government. But they have a great culture they’re very proud of, their family values are very strong, and they’re very self-sufficient and creative. They mend their clothes; they fix their shoes; they’re actually able to take something that’s broken and repair it; they have a lot of cottage industries.
I admire that, and I admire the ones who pick up and go to the border. Most of the people I’ve met who crossed the border just wanted to earn some money to send back and then go home; they weren’t here to go on welfare or be the parasites they’re identified as.”
In fact, Theroux says, “the book was inspired by everything that Donald Trump and other people were saying during the presidential campaign about Mexico, Mexicans, and the border—their uninformed opinions and stereotypes.”
He adds, “One of the great reasons for traveling is to destroy stereotypes, to see people and things as they really are, to see the dynamics and the complexity of a country. As soon as he started saying things like, ‘There’s too many of them, they’re coming over the border, they’re rapists,’ I had a great reason for taking a year or two to get to the bottom of it.” …
Yes this TV series has absurd, ridiculous plot lines. There are no grizzly bears in Quebec — but that’s my main complaint with the books, as well. The book plots are absurd. The show consistent with that.
If you are generous, you could say there are traces of magic realism.
Of 150,000 children placed in those by the Canadian government over 100 years, estimates range from 3200 to over 30,000 who died there.
Many more lived having been abused. During a penitential pilgrimage to Canada in July 2022, Pope Francis reiterated the apologies of the Catholic Church who administered many of them, including the fictional one in Three Pines, Quebec.
First Nations Canadians are still suffering from that evil legacy. And that’s spelled out in this show.
Remembrance Day (Australia, Canada, Colombia, UK and Ireland), also known as Poppy Day (South Africa and Malta), and Armistice Day (UK, New Zealand and many other Commonwealth countries; and the original name of the holiday internationally) is a day to commemorate the sacrifice of veterans and civilians in World War I and other wars. It is observed on November 11 to recall the end of World War I on that date in 1918.
On October 21, 2020, it was reported that Purdue had reached a settlement potentially worth $8.3 billion, admitting that it “knowingly and intentionally conspired and agreed with others to aid and abet” doctors dispensing medication “without a legitimate medical purpose.” Members of the Sackler family will additionally pay US$225 million and the company will close.
In the near future we’ll have more refugees, not fewer. And they’ll be more desperate.
Afraid to return home. Willing to risk death to escape.
Of course each nation should have a system for handling claims for asylum. But only a small percentage will be granted entry. As populations are getting older, many nations — starting with Japan — need MORE young people to migrate.
BEST of many bad options for refugees not chosen for asylum is to stay on the border. Months. Perhaps years.
There are about 700 refugee camps worldwide, as I post.
Who should pay?
I’d first look to organizations like the Gates Foundation. And to other billionaires who have far more money than they could ever spend.
Life in camp should be minimal. But safe. Police. Schools. Clean water. Medical facilities.
Transportation home should be offered.
If possible, there should be opportunities to work and volunteer.
Some will be under age-18. They should have special protection as should anyone with physical or mental challenges.