Reviews of Tales from the Yucatan Jungle

Here are some reviews of Tales from the Yucatan Jungle: Life in a Mayan Village by Kristine Ellingson.

Jane Kirkpatrick
Award-winning author of Homestead: Modern Pioneers Pursuing the Edge of Possibility and A Cover Tales from the Yucatan JungleDaughter’s Walk

“Kristine Ellingson’s memoir is one of those books that once begun is read to the end knowing the journey will be fascinating. Filled with rich details of both ancient and modern Mayan life, it is also a love story of a woman in love with life, with family, with creativity and with generosity of spirit and exploration. It’s also a story of a woman who took the risks necessary to fall in love with her true self. I’m hoping Tales from the Yucatan Jungle is only the beginning of the answer of what happens next.”

Cathy Wilcox Sparling
Retired Director of General Services, Legal Department, City of Toronto, Canada

“From her experiences with Curanderos (healers), to J’meen (shamans) appeasing the Aluxes (spirits) who guard the land, to participating in traditional rituals for the dead and dying, Kris offers a rare, insightful, and fascinating look into the world of the modern Maya in a small Yucatan village. With keen observation skills, incredible experiences and the understanding of a woman who has straddled two worlds for over two decades, Kris is able to see and describe the wonder, beauty and mystery of the Mayan world around her. Her book offers a gateway into a land that we tourists often visit but seldom see.”

Sheila Matthews
Institute of Nautical Archaeology, Turkey

“Her love of the place, its color and vibrancy and even its food and its people comes out strong. For me, this book is all a vibrant and descriptive explanation of Kristine’s life and life decisions during a time of change.

“What impressed me, and what comes through in the book, is that Kris keeps her sense of humor throughout. One can tell that she takes her life seriously but also accepts what is thrown at her without prejudice and criticism of a different culture. What many might think of as problems or blocks, Kris sees more as a (self) learning situation. She keeps her perspective of life and offers descriptions of both good and bad experiences with a touch of humor. For me, humor is one of the most important survival traits as an outsider. She is accepting of the unknown and the strange and absorbs it all without judgment.

“Life is short. Take chances and be open to everything. One can learn from anything. The serendipitous-ness of life is very evident in this book.”

Michael Graham
Lifelong student of Mayan culture

“I first visited this part of the world over 40 years ago in my red Volkswagen van and have been a regular visitor ever since. In spite of being fortunate to live and work with my wife in different parts of Africa and to study in Europe, I have always retained a strong affection for the Yucatan and its people. We also are both always excited to meet and connect with people who are successfully living ‘bi-cultural’ lives. Kristine is a masterful story teller who brings this part of the Mayan world alive to our imaginations while at the same time revealing herself as a woman who passionately, and successfully, makes a choice to begin new life at forty-four!

“As I read the book, I not only was fascinated by the stories of her life she shared and her insights into the Mayan life of Santa Elena, but I gained a whole new appreciation for Kristine’s skills as a consummate storyteller. And I came to appreciate the courage of her adventure.  I know her as a skilled and welcoming innkeeper, a person of passionate interest in the Yucatan and the Mayan people, a woman with a wonderful artistic sense and, by reputation, as a very successful jewelry designer.  Now I appreciate her as an individual capable of making life-changing decisions and living out the consequences of her choice, experiencing both the challenges and the joys that brings!”

Hulene Montgomery
Michael Graham’s lifetime travel companion and Social Development Consultant

“Reading her book I laughed out loud, cried and marveled at the person I was re-meeting. It was wonderful to revisit Kristine, Santiago and Rosa in the pages of this marvelous book.”

Janet Baker
Retired teacher, traveler, and a lifelong sports person

“What Kristine has accomplished is truly amazing. My childhood neighbor left her country and family at age 44 and built, through sheer determination, a beautiful compound and garden, learned two languages, educated a village, and in doing so found love and support with a Mayan family. Her intellect, artistic abilities, and work ethic all come together in her accomplishment. In fact, you could say that “accomplishment” has been her life theme. Read her book and go visit her B & B.”

“Mexico” Mike Nelson
“Mexico” Mike Nelson has been writing about Mexico since the 1980’s with more than a dozen published books to his credit, from travel to humor to social history.

This is a very worthwhile and worth reading book that will touch you, entertain you, and educate you on so many levels. This readable book is very far elevated from the increasingly crowded genre of expats writing about moving to Mexico. This is a genuine explanation and understanding of the Mayan culture in Yucatan from an embedded member of the society. Kristine Ellingson provides both keen insight and observations that could only from a foreigner and details and explanations that could only come from a local. In other words, she successfully bridges at least two cultures (whether non-Yucatan Mexican culture is another culture in itself is another subject). If you really want to understand both why and how the modern Mayan people lived yesterday, live today, and perhaps how they will live tomorrow, buy this book.

For Mike’s longer, in-depth review of Tales from the Yucatan Jungle, please click here.

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