The Guaymas Chronicles: La Mandadera

David E. Stuart, Author University of New Mexico Press $24.95 (408p) ISBN 978-0-8263-3188-5
When he settled into the Mexican port town of Guaymas over 30 years ago, Stuart was a young graduate student, recently back from fieldwork in Ecuador and newly betrayed by his Mexican fiancee. Despite his confusion and loneliness, the next few months changed his life for the better, and here he pays tribute to the Guaymas natives he befriended in this lively, slightly""novelized"" memoir. Although he is now a professor of anthropology at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, Stuart's interest in this small Mexican town and the lively locals who inhabit it was never academic. He simply wanted to relax, he recalls, by spending the summer sleeping in a hammock on the beach underneath the stars. While at first viewed as an outsider by the tight-knit community, Stuart soon becomes immersed in both the local lifestyle and the fabric of the town, so much so that during a short trip to""the other side""--i.e. the United States--he realizes that he feels more comfortable in Mexico than he does in his native country. Stuart's narrative really takes off when Lupita, a feisty, orphaned street girl who becomes his mandedera (messenger), enters the scene. Despite their myriad differences, they enjoy a deep friendship, as each provides the other with the missing piece of an important relationship: he replaces the parents she never knew, while she offers the warmth of family and companionship he lost when his marriage was called off. The story of Stuart and Lupita is heartwarming, and yet ultimately tragic. As a Guaymas local kept telling Stuart all those years ago,""You've got to do things for people""--and with this charming book, Stuart has done quite a lot for his readers at least.
Reviewed on: 08/01/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 394 pages - 978-0-8263-3189-2
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