Travel Advisory: Why Women’s Fiction Might Come in Handy

Palace of the Blue Butterfly | Episode 7

By now you may have heard that the US State Department has released its current Travel Advisories, and its not good news for traveling to Mexico.

I’m aware that Mexico is seen as a dangerous place. Don’t think I have my head in the sand, but I’ve been there three times this year and have felt completely safe. It’s true that I speak the language well enough, and I have friends there. Maybe that makes it easier for me.

Anyway, it’s a perfect time for some armchair traveling. You can let Lili face all the danger while you are safe at home reading in bed, well in this case, listening to Palace of the Blue Butterfly.

Why, you might ask, did I choose Mexico City as a setting in the first place? There are two answers to that, really.

One is personal. When I was seventeen, my mother and I took off for Mexico City in her huge Buick Elektra. It was a road trip moment, and we were getting out of Dodge! Anyway, I fell in love with Mexico. It’s that simple, early imprinting and all that.

The second reason? Well, that has to do with the craft of writing, with the essential element of conflict.

One of my favorite types of conflict involves a woman trying to negotiate a life in a foreign country, and one of my all time favorite first sentences is from Isak Dinesen’s memoir Out of Africa: “I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills.

Once I had the setting for my book, I had the conflict. What was my character doing there? Whom would she meet? Where would she go? And I wanted to follow, to peer over the forbidding walls and get behind the high, iron gates, which is exactly what I did. People have been so helpful you can’t imagine.

If you’ve followed along this far, you know that Lili is invited to a residence in a super excusive part of Mexico City called San Angel. ( See photo left) Who wouldn’t want to be driven down this street in a Mercedes with smoke-colored glass, have the chauffeur hop out and ring the buzzer, and be allowed into a whole other world?

Well, click and listen and you can.


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