Herge, The Broken Ear, Tintin and Snowy, Tintin and the Picaros

San Theodoros

Continuing my work on updating the Tintin Map, I’m looking into San Theodoros. This fictional country appeared in Tintin and the Picaros (TatP) and The Broken Ear. It is described as a Latin American country and Castafiore stops there after visiting Ecuador, Columbia and Venezuela. However, the temple Tintin visits in TatP clearly looks Mayan, compare the photo of the Chichen Itza temple with the one on page 25 of Tintin and the Picaros. This ancient culture was dominant in present day Mexico but did extend into Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and western Honduras.

Chichen Itza Mayan Temple Tintin Picaros

In The Broken Ear, the countryside, dress and general look of San Theodoros has a predominately Mexican feel. The use of spanish prefixes in both the county’s name, the capital (Los Dopicos) and the capital its neighbours Nuevo-Rican (San Facion) suggest Mexico or another Central American such as Costa Rica.

Tintin sails to Los Dopicos from Le Harve. There is no mention of the Panama canal so San Theodoros’ capital must be on the east coast of central or south America.

As with all of Herge’s fictional places, he did not tie himself down to specifics but instead took what he need from different places. Locations are further confused by differences between the originals and their translations and between different editions as Herge habitually made many changes when updating albums. Herge lacked consistency in his own work as well. Los Dopicos is a port city in The Broken Ear but by Tintin and the Picaros it seems to be inland.

Putting the different clues together – Mayan pyramids, styles of dress and buildings, coastal location and the strong Spanish influence on names, I think the east coast of the Mexico including the Yucatán Peninsula, Belize and Honduras is the best fitting region.

3 Comments

  1. Bo

    I have always been of the impresion that San Theodoros and Nuevo Rico (it’s neighbour country) is supposed to represent Bolivia and Uruguay. And the conflict between them is based on the gran chaco conflict between the two countries, just see the similarities with gran chapo). San Theodoros is probably Bolivia.

    Also the remote jungle in the book resembles the jungles of western paraguay and eastern bolivia better.

  2. admin

    Bo,

    Some clues do point to Bolivia. There are hinted similarities between the General Olivaro, founder of San Theodoros and Simón Bolívan, founder of Bolivia.

    However there are many clues that point away from Bolivia. Many of the people shown wear sombrero, normally associated with Mexico and no one is wearing a bowler hat, common in Bolivia.

    Tintin sails to San Theodoros but Bolivia is landlocked and on the west coast of South America. Even if there was a port, Tintin would have to go through the Panama canal and I don’t think Herge would miss a chance of showing that.

    The Mexican Yucatan peninsular is heavily jungled as are the central American countries. However the idea of a lost tribe and a white explorer living with them does suggest deep amazonian jungle.

    Chris

  3. Ross

    I think too much is being read into the location. Did Hergé even travel to all these places to know so much about them as the admin does? Perhaps it is just his own creation of a country based on what he has read or heard? As admin points out, Hergé did not tie himself down to specifics so why are we trying to find a specific place?

    I am more inclined to believe they are based on Bolivia and Paraguay as Bo says.

    As for the Panama canal, we cannot assume that Hergé would or would not have included it. For all we know, he may have included it originally but removed it later.

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