“Try this tequila Oil, Hugito. Just as the alcohol hits your stomach, the chilli will as well and blow it back into your brain. It will take your head off”.
On his first trip to Mexico in the 1970s, Hugh Thomson is told by a stranger he could make money buying a car over the Texan border and taking it thousands of miles through the country to sell on the black market in Central America. What does it matter that he doesn’t have a driving licence? He is eighteen years old, far from home and with time to kill. It sounds like the most sensible plan in the world.
So, throwing himself on the kindness and mercy of the Mexicans he meets or crashes into, he and his beloved Oldsmobile 98 career from one crisis to another before meeting their apocalyptic destiny in the slums of Belize City – where he returns many years later, older but not neccessarily wiser, to complete his original journey.
His travels reveal a wild, off-the-beaten-track Mexico, leading him from the badlands of Chihuahua to the jungles of the Yucatan and one of the most enigmatic and least understood cultures on the planet, the Maya.
“Boys,” said the Texan salesman, “I don’t know where you’re heading, but you’ve got yourself a mighty fine car to do it in.” And we took it.