If a man came to the door of a house in America with a nightmare-inducing mask in his hand, I would hope it’s Halloween and run. But here in the Azuero mask makers are ambassadors and master artist Darido Lopez’s fanged creatures are so fearsome we order two and promise to return when they’re ready.
If I were strolling through a small town anywhere in the North American Southwest and a stranger pulled up in a white pickup wanting to know if we were lost, I’d be on edge. If he offered to give us a ride in the back and go get a beer at his house, I’d pretend not to hear and shuffle out of range of crazy. But here in the Azuero it seems stupid not to say yes, especially when the driver of the truck is American and I could really use a cold beer.
Which is where this story gets even more pinch-me. The man’s name is Hooper and he used to live on Hilton Head Island. His wife Betsy knows a woman I call one of my other mothers. They’re building a hotel resort, just like my parents are trying to do in Nicaragua. Only Betsy and Hooper have the good luck, or smarts, to take their pioneer spirit where its actually welcomed and any guest lucky enough to stay at Mangofish someday will never want to leave.
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.