Juan Carlos Pérez-Duthie

June 10, 2014


There is no miller’s daughter trying to spin straw into gold. No Rumpelstiltskin in sight. Instead, as I stroll past the crumbling shell of what was obviously once a regal hacienda, its grandeur long overrun by weeds and decay, I am surprised to find that it is not entirely abandoned. That in a nearby shed there are still men tending to the dried sisal, or the henequen fiber from the agave plant, once the “green gold,” as it was called, that turned Mérida into one of Mexico’s wealthiest cities. That is, until synthetic fibers came along, launching the industry and everything else around it into a path of decline from which it never recovered. Of the more than 1,000 haciendas that existed during its heyday, only about 400 remain standing. A few have been brought back to their former glory, if in the shape of hotels. Others have been renovated as homes, or serve as museums, paying homage to days gone by. The one I wandered through, and which sits right next to the ancient Maya ruins of Aké, however, refuses to die. As sturdy as twine.


Juan Carlos Pérez-Duthie is a journalist, adjunct English professor, language instructor and translator. His non-fiction work has appeared in numerous outlets, from The Los Angeles Times to the Knight Foundation. His fiction has been featured in the YA Latino noir anthology You Don’t Have a Clue, and in the online literary magazines epiphany and Far Enough East. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, he has also called home New York City, Buenos Aires and Miami. One day he hopes to live in Mexico.





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