Narcos, Travel Writing, and….?

Jeff O’Brian writes:

“Just returned from Monterrey and if there were no reports of crime on the news I would not know anything was amiss. I love how the deeper I get, the more the People’s Guide resonates. I try different foods, go where there are no tourists and live everyday life as Mexican – hit the local markets, took in a few ball games and ate stuff I never thought I would. Drinking beer with locals around the barbacoa just rocked.

In your opinion, has the internet and blogging really killed the chance to make it travel writing?”

Carl’s reply:

As I’m sure you realize, the three-way war between the narco cartels and the government is clobbering tourism along the U.S./Mexico border. There is a lot happening in the rest of Mexico as well but tourists are seldom aware of it.

As it happens, however, today the Mexican news is reporting “narco blockades” with hijacked trucks on several major highways in and around Monterrey. Early morning flights out of Monterrey were cancelled and it took the authorities a couple of hours to clear these routes.

The narcos flex their muscle in a very public way with these “bloqueos” but what’s the point? The government says it is simply revenge for the advances they’ve made against the cartels. In Monterrey the authorities are now forming special quick reaction “anti-blockade” squads. Curiously, there is no mention whatsoever of anyone involved in the blockades being arrested.

About travel writing and the internet… I think that blogging and internet publishing (along with do-it-yourself digital e-publishing) offer a lot of opportunities for travel writers, especially those who haven’t yet found their audience. When I first began writing the only route to publishing for an unknown writer was to submit a very carefully groomed manuscript to an agent or publisher “over the transom”. Unless you had somehow established a personal connection with someone in the industry, your chance of success was only slightly better than zero.

Then came the countercultural revolution and “underground” publishing. This is where we found our big break, by a chance meeting on a Mexican beach with John and Eve Muir. John’s self-published book, “How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive”, was selling so well that he decided to share his success by starting an independent publishing company.

Anyway, I’m digressing… Just as underground publishing offered a new way for writers to find an audience (and market) for their work, I think blogging, e-books, and whatever cyber development comes next all present opportunities for us. The trick, of course, is figuring out how to put it all together and produce some kind of income.

Let’s think about that!

Saludos, Carl