Pisco maestro Don Claudio (Drive Day 166: Dec 12th, 2003)

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1212a.jpgDon Claudio too has driven the day’s journey south of Pisco to his ranch – just to meet us. He gives us a tour of the concrete fermentation tanks and the copper contraption called an alambique that distills the liquid. He is a gallant, gracious host with Italian origins who recovers from a pulled tooth by joining us in a taste sampling of his finest varieties.

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The sun sets over draping grape terraces and sand dunes and we decide that this is the most beautiful campground in South America.

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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 of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Planning a road trip? Buy the audiobook here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.

Stiffer drink needed (Drive Day 165: Dec 11th, 2003)

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There is nothing sadder or scarier than riot cops, but modern day, post-Shining Path Peru is full of them. It is also full of guardedly optimistic locals who believe the best days are ahead. We meet four of them at a lunch we’ve been invited to by the friends of a friend back in Maryland. And they insist that we sample their cousin Don Claudio’s pisco. Which soothes Peru’s rough edges and refocuses the mind on finer things. Like the ranch where he grows the grapes. Another invite we cannot refuse, so we leave Lima behind and begin the long drive south to Pisco.

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1211c.jpgFollow 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 of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Planning a road trip? Buy the audiobook here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.

Lima the horrible and majestic (Drive Day 164: Dec 10, 2003)

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We could try to find a more central place to “camp” in the city writer Sebastian Salazar Bondy called “Lima the Horrible” but the guard at the rec center where we’ve parked says we’re welcome to stay. So for the second time we lock up the Avion and hop on a bus. Which breaks down and requires swapping for a smaller van. The driver’s helper provides the entertainment – yelling out approaching stops, jumping out at those stops and twirling our destination sign like a sidewalk vendor, flirting with girls, collecting fares, slamming the side panel door shut and leaning out the one open window until the process repeats itself the next block over. It takes two hours to arrive and another ten minutes to uncramp our legs and unstoop our backs. We walk through streets lined with majestic buildings of another era, heading for the intriguing museum of torture.  It’s short on signage but houses what look like implements of an inquisition and we decide that it should commission one of the outskirt buses as a modern exhibit.

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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 of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Planning a road trip? Buy the audiobook here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.

Lost in Lima (Drive Day 163: December 9th, 2003)

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We usually avoid camping in major capitols; wary of maneuvering the big rig through chaotic city traffic. So we are attempting to make it to the outskirts of Peru’s capitol, Lima, but end up utterly lost. And right smack dab in the middle of one of its famous slums. This is the view outside our camper window:

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Best way to process unbearable shock and misery? Catch a bus into city center Lima and drink a Pisco Sour at the Aero Club. The contrast is mind numbing and requires another drink.

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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 of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Planning a road trip? Buy the audiobook here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.

 

Chan Chan vs. Trujillo (Drive day 162: December 8th, 2003)

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I’m beginning to think we humans have de-evolved, lost our imagination and aesthetic. We make it to the ruins of the Chan empire at the magic hour and its bewitchingly beautiful — even 600 years past its prime Chan Chan is more elegant, more peaceful, than any place we’ve seen on this continent.

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Granted, at one time 60,000 people lived in Chan Chan — it was the largest adobe city on earth — so Gary wouldn’t have  had it all to himself like it looks in this shot. It might have been even more beautiful, with intricate irrigation features engineered to counter a dropping water table. The air around a scalloped, now dry pond still smells like marsh.

But just beyond this crumbling reminder of a majestic architectural and engineering feat lies modern Trujillo. Filled with belching buses and cement houses slathered with political slogans — the paint is free if the owners agree to serve as billboards.

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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 of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Planning a road trip? Buy the audiobook here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.

 

A few years too late (Drive Day 161: December 7th, 2003)

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Thanks to the hotel owner in Huanchaco we know Billy Bob’s real name, Wilbur Holden, but a guy across the street from the club where we camped 30 years earlier tells us Billy Bob died of lung cancer in 1989. Which kinda makes sense when I look closer at my mother’s journal entry.1207a.jpgI remember that night. My dad paced up and down the length of the camper’s tiny corridor, saying “The kids are asleep, right? They can’t see me like this.” Of course we weren’t.

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It’s sad, not getting to meet the man who got my father to loosen up, and who fed us hamburgers from his cool club. A dreary drive back along the beach and we talk to the hotel owner who knew him once. Apparently my dad wasn’t Billy Bob’s only party partner. He drank away the club’s profits and before it finally closed he couldn’t pay the light bill. Customers had to drink by candlelight. Sounds lovely, actually.

Canoes of a different kind (Drive Day 160: December 6th, 2003)

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We’re headed to Trujillo, hoping to track down a man who helped my family through a particularly awful breakdown 30 years ago. But the thought of camping on crowded city streets forces a detour to the nearest beach town: Huanchaco. It’s a surf tourist spot now but you can still see vestiges of the native culture – like handmade reed boats used by local fishermen.

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We park in front of a nice hotel and happily pay three bucks each to swim in the pool and use the showers. We hang out at the hotel bar, meet the owner, and tell him we’re trying to hunt down an expat named Billy Bob.

“Same guy who used to own a club in Trujillo?” he asks. We’re stunned. What are the odds? But then the bubble bursts. He’s pretty sure Billy Bob’s son owns the club now and not at all sure the man who once rescued my family is still alive.

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 of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Planning a road trip? Buy the audiobook here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.