Finally I’ve found a travel book so terrifying in its intensity that it rivals my all time favourite the Accursed Mountains. That book chartered the chaos, tribalism and horror of post Communist Albania and firmly removed it from my list of must see places. A true one off (or so I thought) in that you really worry for the narrator’s life.
In Bandit Roads Richard Grant, bored of his mundane life, travels into the nightmarish North-West of Mexico. Few tourists visit the area and those who do risk rape or death. It’s a hellish place, akin to the setting of the Treasure of the Sierra Madre, full of sons of whorish mothers (his words), corrupt officals, murderous drugs barons, drunken tribes of Indians and people who would kill him without a thought. It begins with him taking cover from a gang of drug dealers intent on his death and ends with him wanting to do nothing more than write about the homes of the rich and famous.
He can’t say he wasn’t warned. On seeing a life sized statue of Christ, he asks why the eyes are covered with stickers. ‘”Senor”, comes the reply” Our Lord has already seen enough of this world’s sufferings”‘.