Sometimes reading the guidebooks is a bad idea, especially when the drive south from San Jose is over a mountain pass called “Cerro de la Muerte.” Ascending its 11,000 plus feet in our newly lockable Ford F350 I have a birds-eye view of the plunging drop-offs and landslide-prone slopes that make it famous. Luckily I have another source of information that doesn’t even mention the Mountain of Death: my mother’s journal. In it she not only uses an adjective (rare) but the same one three times in a row: beautiful.
And she’s right. Though Gary has to stay white-knuckle focused on the road ahead as he drives, I am riveted by the dozens of waterfalls and lush, subtropical ferns along the route. Memories are rushing back from the first road trip along the Pan-American. Mom and Jenny washing clothes in a stream. A hitchhiker we befriended snapping a photo of Dad and me taking a bath in another. Back then I was mortified by my near nakedness. Now this picture captures the Costa Rica that hasn’t changed in thirty years.
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.