At the end of this journey we were deposited in a twilit Indian town. Low roofs of mellow red, propped by elaborate carved beams, hung over steep cobbled streets, and the one-storeyed houses looked very old. They must have been built after the Conquest, but are best described as Medieval Indian.

The town was dusty, poor and silent. There was no wheeled traffic and nobody wore shoes. It was a mile's walk to the lake shore and the inn, and looking back one could see the red, weathered roofs of Patzcuaro spread upon the hillside like a fan.

In a way, it was beautiful. It was not our way. The lake, set in an expanse of shrub and stone, was the colour of clay; reedy, forlorn to make one cry. The inn was a frame bungalow. There was a verandah wired with mosquito netting, a barman in a spotty white jacket, a ping-pong table and no guests.

Our room was unswept, there was a rusty shower-bath that dripped and someone's hairpins on the warped chest whose drawers we did not explore. Everything was damp.

We spent the evening sitting on the verandah the barman had said to stay in because of the miasma, and anyway there was nowhere to sit out-of-doors drinking tequila in speechless gloom. The food tasted of swamp.

At last we went to bed. The muslin nets smelled and had holes, insects whirred and our thoughts ran on malaria. In the morning I walked into the town to send a telegram to Anthony care of American Express, Mexico City, telling him not to join us at Lake Pazcuaro.

Now, there are two kinds of countries, the countries in which sending a wire is nothing you hand in a shilling or a quarter, and a form, and walk out again and the countries in which it is hell. They're out of forms, they're out of ink, the pen scratches, you've been waiting at the wrong guichet, your destination does not exist, the post-mistress pretends she cannot read. The worse the postal service, the better the climate, wine and food. Without such compensations, Pazcuaro beats any telegraph office between the Bosphorus and the Mexique Bay.

--- From The Sudden View
A Mexican Journey

Sybille Bedford
©1953 Harper & Brothers
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