“AMID THE MARKETS AND CANALS of the great city of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, smack on the corner where nowadays Dolores Street runs past the Chinese restaurants and umbrella stores, Conquistador Balboa is in a rush to run an errand for the Marquis, and the Indian girl Florinda is walking to the flea market.”
This is the first sentence in this marvelous, surreal novel by Luis Humberto Crosthwaite, one of Mexico’s well-known novelists and Cinco Puntos Press has done a marvelous thing in bringing this author’s work to the US for us to enjoy.
The book is about Florinda and her Conquistador love, Balboa who is fired from his bureaucratic job with the other conquistadores because of downsizing. The two leave to Tijuana by bus hoping to cross The Border into the Northernish Empire.
As with many couples, real life intrudes on their fairy tale. They find without the proper papers they cannot cross The Border, Florinda (Xochitl) has to live with Balboa’s lisping Castillian family who treat her like a maid. Meanwhile Balboa’s uncle gets him across the border stuffed into the trunk of a car while still wearing his conquistador armor.
In this bizarre and wonderful quirky novel, centuries are traversed and lives change. Florinda comes to work in a factory in Tijuana, becomes a serious shoe-aholic and learns to live on her own. Balboa starts wearing jeans and a t-shirt, loses his lisp and takes up with the fair haired waitress Maryanne before getting rounded up by La Migra. This is such a fun and well told story filled with chistes and puns. I think my favorite part was when the Conquistador gets picked up by La Migra and deported. I encourage everyone to read this book and to find more Crosthwaite in his native Spanish. Kudos to Cinco Puntos for bringing him to the light here in the Northernish Empire!