The bulk of it is the result of a decades-long writing project Siegel calls "The Real Mexico." A title like that sends up huge, flapping red flags, but Siegel's premise seems merely that the "real" Mexico is wherever Mexicans are, and not confined to picturesque folk dance settings. That's hardly a radical thought, but his choice of a prototype for such a place will raise some eyebrows. It's Cancun itself.
For those who have a hard time considering a recently carved-from-the-jungle wet T-shirt mecca to be a "real" example of anything, Siegel has a calm explanation. "Cancun is an excellent framework for seeing Mexico, as it is a microcosm of the country at large," he writes. "Its inhabitants have come here from all over the Republic to seek a better life."
He goes on to prove his point rather well, most effectively via a series of short oral histories on the lives of some architects, engineers and other workers who created Cancun over the years. These people are as real as it gets. And the list includes Siegel himself, who was lured to Cancun by a job offer from Fonatur, the Mexican tourist board that financed the resort's construction.
Siegel was a lucid chronicler of the unprecedented (and so far unrepeated) cultural outburst in the United States of the 1960s and early 1970s, most notably for Playboy in its prime. His writing has lost none of its fat-free clarity.
When your dinner party lulls, open the Cancun User's Guide up and read a paragraph or two at random. Since Siegel is incapable of writing a dull sentence, your guests will spend the rest of the evening discussing, debating and delighting in the endless supply of pleasure and enigma this bewitching country offers
Playa El Mirador, New Year’s Day, 2011
Fruits & Vegetables
Hotels Ice Cream
Zona de Tolerancia
Words to live by.