Costa Rica

Stone spheres of mystery (Drive Day 102 minus 14 years)

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After enduring a night at Marino Bellena I wouldn’t be surprised if the giant stone balls of San Vito are fossilized mosquito eggs. The only absolute is that they’re made of a substance quarried in the mountain range that produced Cerro de la Muerte, which leaves plenty of room for speculation. But the real mystery is how they’ve escaped the modern information era, avoiding codified, collective memory. That they’re still the cause of speculation is, in a way, cause for celebration. Not everything is knowable. Or controllable. So we leave the stone spheres and roll on ourselves, toward Panama.

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.

Primeval Paradise (Drive day 101 minus 14 years)

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1009a cr ballena copyThere are places so beautiful you are punished for intruding. The Costa Rican state park of Marino Bellena, named after the humpback whales that pass by every year in migration, looks unoccupied. I wouldn’t be surprised to see dinosaurs amble out of its wooded shoreline. But instead we are attacked by swarms, hordes, battalions of mosquitoes. And a heat so wet and blanketing that your lungs feel unequal to the task of breathing it all in. All of which is the way it should be. Or developers would surely decimate this slice of coastal wilderness as they have in Costa Rica’s north. I’m willing to lose one night’s sleep to bear witness to Marino Bellena’s grandeur but we will peel out of here at first light tomorrow. Before the circling vultures overhead drop down to devour whatever vestiges of us the mosquitoes don’t eat first.

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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.

Mountain of Death (Drive day 100 minus 14 years)

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1008a Jen & Bev in streamSometimes 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.

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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.

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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.

Football – San Jose style (Drive Day 99 minus 14 years)

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Arnoldo insists on treating us to a Central American soccer match while we count down the days to the truck’s repair. I’ve never been to a professional game and this is a head-first immersion into Latin culture. You don’t even have to know the slang to understand that mothers are being insulted, mascots maligned, referees berated and scores contested. It’s like a three hour battle of the bands, only the musicians sit in the cheap seats playing homemade drums and horns. Gooooooooooooooooooooal!

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This day’s souvenir stub? One for Gary’s journal.

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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.

Trailer park conspiracy theories (Drive Day 98 minus 14 years)

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Our neighbors at the Belen trailer park are American expats of an unusual age. Christian is a twenty-something, one-time vet student and his girlfriend Killian (like the beer) dropped out of a graduate program in astronomy. All to escape big brother. These two have conspiracy theories about everything from 9/11 to cell phones and after a few shots of guaro — the local moonshine — it all seems plausible. And that’s before we stumble on a giant green head near the Ford dealership in San Jose memorializing JFK. If this isn’t alien art I don’t know what is….

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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.

Artsy capitol (Drive day 97 minus 14 years)

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MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERASan Jose is way too congested to use our truck and camper as local transportation, especially without a functioning door lock. So we catch city buses into the capitol from a bus stop right outside the Belen trailer park. It’s a crapshoot where we’ll end up on any given trip, but that’s the beauty of unplugged travel. You just go as far as you want in one direction, take it all in, and reverse course.

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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.

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Remembering how to make grocery store lists again (Drive day 96 minus 14 years)

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When I was seven, San Jose was a big city delight because of all the activities it offered a camper-bound child. I still remember the zoo and all its caged, exotic Central American animals. This time around, the city’s charms are more practical. Like a chance to go to a real grocery store. With a wish list. And find the things on it that make us feel not quite so far from home.

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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.