Gringotenango (Drive Day 45 minus 14 years)

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It’s easy to see how Lake Atitlan’s biggest town, Panajachel, got its nickname. After the solitude and desolation of the highlands, billboards advertising yoga retreats and internet cafes seem comfortingly tacky. Thirty years ago my family could camp safely on the beach itself but this time backpackers we first met in Mexico warn us off – their tent got robbed, along with all their food. So for the first time since leaving North America, I’m going to try something that makes my Midwestern husband feel utterly uncomfortable. I find a phone booth and call the son of a relative’s friend – essentially a stranger whose hospitality was promised by someone we’ve met exactly once. I call it my new “say yes, nothing to lose” philosophy.

It turns out all-but-a-stranger Shawn has a delightful girlfriend Susie, and access to a private casita far from the touristy town. So Gary gets a chance to capture this view of Lake Atitlan.

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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. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

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