On the ship they put out a newspaper, and in it they always say we must not lose heart, we must keep our spirits up: we represent the dignity of Spain, and until the day we return we have the duty to behave appropriately, with discipline, without making too much noise at night so that those who most need to, can sleep. With discipline and now with love for Méjico, who is going to welcome us with open arms. The newspaper also explains that Méjico had a worker-peasant revolution and that the president (this we already knew) is named Lázaro Cárdenas, great friend of ours, of the Republic’s. Méjico is very big, much bigger than Spain, it lies south of the United States and has everything, factories, horses, ranches, painters, bananas and vegetables all year round.
Méjico is huge, she says during one of her talks, the whole of Spain could fit into one province called Chihuahua, up north near the States.
That’s what a very important woman from Méjico who is making the trip with us explains. Méjico is huge, she says during one of her talks, the whole of Spain could fit into one province called Chihuahua, up north near the States. In some parts there is a kind of land called tropical. The capital is beautiful, it has old buildings, many automobiles, parks and snow-capped volcanoes.
Since it is very hot out at sea, sometimes someone comes down with a little fever. A short, friendly Catalan doctor takes care of us. He’s already told our parents, but he explains to us too, that in Méjico you cannot drink the drinking water, because it isn’t drinkable. You must always boil the water before drinking it. Otherwise, you catch a thing called typhoid.
You can’t play too hard on the ship, because everything is made of iron and if you fall, you could hurt yourself pretty damn bad; because they don’t let us go up to the deck, or down to see the engines; because, what with all the discipline, there are times and places where we can’t shout; and because the grown-ups spend all day pacing the deck, reading the ship’s newspaper and talking. The grown-ups get in our way because they’re sad, but it doesn’t matter: we all go stand at the prow, watch the ship slice through the water, and, far off, beyond the horizon, one of these days we’re going to reach Méjico.
On the ship they also told us Méjico is spelled with an x.
Carlos Blanco Aguinaga (1926 – ) was born in Irún and exiled to Mexico as a child after the Spanish Civil War. Since earning his Ph.D., he has taught at Mexico’s UNAM, the University of California, and in Spain. The author of books on Unamuno, Prados, Marxist literary theory, and modernism, he has also published four novels and a book of short stories, Carretera de Cuernavaca (Alfaguara 1990).
Lisa Dillman teaches at Emory University. Her publications include the book Spain: A Literary Traveler´s Companion, which she co-edited with Peter Bush (Whereabouts Press, 2003); tEugenio Cambaceres’ 1881 Argentine novel Pot Pourri: Whistlings of a Vagabond (Oxford University Press, 2003); and translations of short stories by Cuban writers Edmundo Desnoes and Roberto Uría, included in the anthology The Voice of the Turtle (Quartet, 1998). She was a contributor to The Encyclopaedia of Literary Translation (Fitzroy Dearborne).