Cholula – no not the hot sauce (Drive Day 24 minus 14 days)

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Wipeout is uninterested in climbing to the top of the largest preindustrial building ever erected on earth, as the impressive ruins atop ruins at Cholula are described in our guidebook. So we set up the awning for shade and she guards what is probably Cholula’s largest postindustrial house on wheels.

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Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom my teresabrucebooks.com website landing page or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

Welcome to Mexico, have a tope (Day 23 minus 14 years)

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North America calls them speed bumps, but Mexican topes are more like organ-bruising fractures in up-thrust asphalt. They greet drivers entering every town along every road that doesn’t charge a toll. Even slowing to first gear and gingerly summiting these torturous peaks isn’t gentle enough for a vintage camper; the Avion harrumphs and clatters with indignation. The jagged crack in our slowly disintegrating plastic water tank portends recycled water drums in our future. Eight hours and we barely make Cuernevaca by nightfall. We’re trying to get to Oaxaca before the campground there fills with tourists for its famous yearly festival. But this sticking-to-a- schedule thing deflates the joy of wandering.

 

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I know Gary is feeling it too. He’s starting to peel the bugs and butterflies from the truck’s grille and sketch them in his journal. Tonight’s victim? An orange-barreled Sulphur butterfly, preserved for eternity in colored pencil. Oh and it’s 73 degrees and 6,798 feet in elevation.

 

Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom my teresabrucebooks.com website landing page or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

Mock your elders (Drive day 22 minus 14 years)

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Normally I’d chuckle at the antics of little boys pantomiming the aches and pains of their elders in an elaborate folk dance. But I’m rapidly becoming gimpy myself. I’m blaming it on hoisting an 80-pound dog in and out of a camper, the back-jarring road to Patzcuaro and hips stiff from folding into a bench seat hours at a time. Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with spontaneously dancing barefoot on tile yesterday…

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Patzcuaro, Mexico: photo by Gary Geboy

Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom my teresabrucebooks.com website landing page or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

Joining in (Drive Day 21 minus 14 years)

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I am dancing on a tile floor covered with pigeon shit, some fresh. I didn’t expect to stumble upon an indigenous Nahua dance circle in the town of Tonala. The leader is calling out the steps in something far from Spanish. But the language of hand drum and pan flute is universal to modern dancers and I kick off my shoes and let my feet follow the patterns.

 

Gary has started keeping a journal. Like my mom did, he notes the conditions and details of each stopping place – temperature and altitude. Unlike my mom, he also describes what he sees. Like how my dancing reminds him of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

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Tonala, Mexico: photo by Gary Geboy

But he joins in too. Not the dance class but a first communion. Back home I doubt even the proudest parents would spot a stranger with a camera and spontaneously pose their children for his lens. We must exude passing through-ness, the anonymity of travel.

Or as Gary’s notes describe it “Wipeout got sick and life goes on.”

Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom my teresabrucebooks.com website landing page or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

Don’t be a licker (Drive Day 20 minus 14 years)

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Campgrounds are getting lonelier by the day. In the cool hills above Guadalajara, Mexico’s third-largest city, we have one all to ourselves. Even the pool is empty; weeds peek through the cement cracks. But there’s a convenient bus route from here into the city and twenty minutes later we’re inside the Governor’s Palace.

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ose Clemente Orozco’s Father Hidalgo: photo by Gary Geboy

The father of Mexican independence thunders down from the walls. A tour guide explains Hidalgo was the priest who inspired the Mexican people to rise up against their Spanish conquerors. “Never be a licker,” he tells us. The boot part is understood.

Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom my teresabrucebooks.com website landing page or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

Choosing Detours (Drive Day 19 minus 14 years)

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Jala, Mexico: photo by Gary Geboy 

I keep expecting a director to yell “roll camera.” This town is movie-set charming but it’s not on the map, in any guidebooks or mentioned in my mother’s journal. For the first time since beginning this road trip we have abandoned the highway and randomly followed an old man riding a donkey down a dirt road. Just to see where he’s going. Just because we have the time. Just because.

Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom my teresabrucebooks.com website landing page or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

The Old Man and The Sea (Drive Day 18 minus 14 years)

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San Blas’ Sostenos Marquez Uribe: photo by Gary Geboy

I can’t remember the last time I struck up a conversation with a stranger on a park bench. I’m a writer. He’s a fisherman. Naturally I ask if he’s read Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea. He seems interested but uncertain, so I launch into a synopsis of the plot. He’s nodding and smiling in all the right places. I think my Spanish must be improving. Until he points to Gary, who is wandering around taking photographs, and asks what happened after my husband caught the big shark.

Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom my teresabrucebooks.com website landing page or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.