Page 45 Review by Jonathan
Well, I think I will, my dear. In fact I did, and was utterly enraptured for the entire 248 pages of Mexican majesty I found within. Long-term Katrionaddicts may recall seeing a sneak peek preview of ten pages in her KATZINE: THE GUATEMALA ISSUE in its pure pencil state without colours. It was a thing of beauty already, but now enriched with lush, soft colours that actually look like they have been done with coloured pencils, it is elevated to a level higher than Popocatépetl itself.
Now, Katriona and her long ago ex-boyfriend Richard Popocatépetl didn't attempt to scale Popocatépetl, it's just an active volcanic mountain in Mexico I've long held in fond regard for no other reason than my favourite bar in Prague was named after it. A suitable name for a place that could erupt into riotous life at any moment. I once saw a woman dance off the top off a table in there in response to an impromptu nonsensical song my friends and I were regaling the patrons with to accompany a gypsy quartet playing various stringed instruments I'd never seen before nor since... I digress... but I should probably just add the lady in question leapt right back up and carried on dancing. A real trouper...
Before we get back to Mexico proper, Katriona starts us off with what is actually a mini-epilogue in considerably colder climes, a conversation with at that point her most definitely ex, regarding her intentions to produce this graphic novel of their trip together. Over a decade has passed since they went adventuring together, but Katriona feels it necessary to advise Richard, and therefore also the reader, that the book will be quite personal, an allusion to the fact that his excessive drinking was responsible for the deterioration of their relationship. In fact, Richard is completely fine with it, encouraging Katriona to include it, which probably partly demonstrates the progress he himself has managed to make. I too, mention this in advance of talking about their trip, because it is a significant sub-plot.
Right, Mexico! It's a country I've never visited, despite a deep desire to see the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon in the ancient city of Teotihuacan one day. But after reading this work, I want to see far, far more of Mexico and its people! Katriona, in addition to superbly presenting her own travelogue and the beautiful locations she took in, also does a brilliant job of highlighting the very diverse and distinct pre-Hispanic indigenous cultures that still exist in Mexico, albeit in localised, often very rural and isolated pockets. It's a country rich in traditions and steeped in ancient beliefs that a casual visitor would miss. I can honestly see many a reader being inspired to consider a trip there after reading this. I certainly am!
You'll see the bustling madness of Mexico City itself to commence with, one of the busiest and loudest cities on the planet... Just what any trepidatious traveller really needs to ease their nerves ahead of sojourning for an extended period in a surprisingly foreign country! Katriona and Richard then headed right to the north of the country to see the epic (and rather more tranquil) Copper Canyons, gradually circling southwards to take in as much of the country and its varied people and their wonderful peculiarities and customs as they possibly could, before their money was in danger of running out. Plus experience some amazing local cuisine you'd never find in a Mexican restaurant in the UK and perhaps even sink an authentic tasty tequila or two from time to time. Or three plus four and more in Richard's case...
Along the way they discovered a love of hiking - a very good thing on a tight budget - and in Katriona's case a burgeoning excitement about nature inspired by the sheer diversity of Mexico's highly varied ecosystems. That unexpected engagement with the natural world was just one of many things Katriona didn't expect from her trip. But that's the beauty of this type of travel, it is a voyage into the unknown not just geographically but also personally, indeed spiritually. It affords one the time and space that we never get to ourselves in the everyday world. For Katriona that also meant the opportunity to rediscover her love for drawing.
A perfect example of how to do a travelogue, capturing not only the intensely personal aspects of such a journey - because it is impossible to undertake such a trip and not be changed by the experience - but also the heady combination of cultural diversity and geographical gloriousness of the destinations themselves.
Note: our initial copies from Avery Hill themselves have been very kindly sketched in by Katriona. Don't miss out!