THE TEMPLE OF THE JAGUAR by Donald G. Schueler


Travels in the Yucatan
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 Few will argue with the worthiness of Schueler's intentions in recounting his experiences as a dedicated conservationist piloting as asthmatic van along the back roads of southern Mexico and neighboring Belize, visiting the wildlife preserves and Maya temple sites along the route. Having suffered a personal tragedy (the AIDS death of a longtime lover), Schueler means to demonstrate the healing power of travel and commitment--but he never clearly links his day-to-day adventures and his gradually improving emotional state. Schueler, depressed and disillusioned, picks up his story as he reluctantly heads south from Palenq£e Mexico into the Yucat†n. Uppermost in his mind is the faint possibility of sighting a jaguar, a cat that is rapidly vanishing even in the remotest sections of Central America. Passing through ramshackle country villages, he meets a series of colorful personalities--60-ish Anita, at whose home he spends a few weeks, becoming part of the woman's raucous, life-affirming family; Joann Andrews, a tough-as- nails organizer of the ProNatura Peninsula de Yucat†n, an organization bent on preserving the area's natural and cultural heritage; and members of the teams that discourage poachers and count bird populations in the nature preserves along the author's way. Eventually, though, a monotony creeps into Schueler's narrative--there's little to distinguish one nature enthusiast from another--even though the narrative picks up steam when it moves to Belize City, with its raffish denizens apparently more interested in boozing than bird-watching. Schueler finally does spot his jaguar, finding fulfillment in that triumph--but his road-weary readers are unlikely to share the joy.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1993
ISBN: 0-87156-651-6
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1993