Guatemala

The end is near (Drive Day 51 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

0820b

Wipeout’s fur is wet and stained with blood from frenzied chewing. And she looks better than Gary today. He says his bones feel like they’re breaking and he can’t catch his breath after five minutes of trying to walk Wipeout. Shawn thinks it’s Dengue – the locals call it break bone fever.  I have to lift both of their heads to make them drink. This time, when the gardeners ask if they should prepare the earth I nod yes and arrange for the vet to make a casita-call tomorrow.

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.

The Colors of Survival (Drive Day 50 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

0823bgt orchid pink
Panajachel, Guatemala: photo by Gary Geboy

Suzie is spending a year working for the American who owns the casita and started a weaving co-op for widows of the Guatemalan Civil War. She says the hardest thing about finding a North American market for the brilliant craftsmanship here is its very brilliance. As in color palette. Up north people don’t wear textiles. We “use” them as accent pieces, covers for throw pillows etc. So only muted, neutral earth tones that “go with” the average living room actually sell.

In Guatemala, after decades of destruction and death, the widows treasure the opposite end of the color spectrum. The brighter the better: nothing says, “I’m still here” better than fuchsia. Earth tones? They belong in the garden. Which is where Shawn works – learning the plants used by natives for medicine and healing. If only he could grow something to cure Wipeout.

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.

A near lynching (Drive Day 49 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

Another day another boat ride, this one across Lake Atitlan to Santiago Atitlan. Wipeout is back at the casita with Susie, recuperating after another night filled with panic attacks. What happens here almost gives me one.

0817
Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala: photo by Gary Geboy

Shawn says it’s some sort of a community trial, the custom in remote indigenous villages. The plaza is packed with men wearing identical traje and I can’t understand the language spoken by a wildly gesticulating man on stage. But there’s no mistaking his anguish, or that it’s directed at another man bound in chains. Who is clearly guilty of something horrible and I want to leave before we inadvertently watch a mob take revenge. But at the last minute, a police van pulls up to the stage and the criminal is shoved inside. The crowd refuses to part at first, angry spectators rocking the van as it creeps forward. They don’t write about this in the Lonely Planet.

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.

Troubled Waters (Drive Day 48 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

 Even the packs of roaming street dogs give Wipeout wide berth. She exudes an existential weariness, punctuated by unexplainable seizures. All we can do is keep her walking, she can’t bite herself at the same time.

0817198
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala: photo by Gary Geboy

In better days she would leap into the water with me. Now she gingerly approaches, constantly checking that I’m near. She wades up to her belly so the lake can lift her off her aching joints. It takes both of us to carry her back uphill, sick with dread. The gardeners ask us if we are ready, volunteering to prepare the earth. I’m not. I’m too selfish. I can’t let her go.

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.

Pyramid Schemes and Other Dreams (Drive Day 47 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

We haven’t left the rickety boat landing on the far shore of Lake Atitlan when an aging North American hippy saunters up and introduces himself as Crazy Joe. “I’m here to sell some pot, want any today?”

0816195
San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala: photo by Gary Geboy

The offer doesn’t surprise me, coming as it does at the entrance of Las Piramides Spiritual Retreat and Yoga Center. What drops my jaw are the clients: gorgeous Eurotravelers busy not talking to each other. Turns out they’re in the total silence moon phase of their stay at this astral travel mecca. We, on the other hand, are here for the food. Shawn says it’s the best vegan buffet in the country. I agree, without saying a word.

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.

Is this cheating? (Drive Day 46 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

 

0815197The casita complex comes with caretakers, guards, gardeners and a cook Shawn and Susie call Dona Vasilia. Who lets us tag along on her daily trips to market where we buy the food she needs. Like bags of dried hibiscus flowers for “Rosa de Jamaica” punch and thankfully pre-slaughtered chicken for cilantro enchiladas. We happily peel skins off roasted peppers and mortar-the-pestle out of dried seeds.

0816b

Tonight there are no dead bugs or butterflies caught in the truck’s grill for Gary to sketch. So in his journal he affixes a more satisfying memento of a marvelous day.

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.

Gringotenango (Drive Day 45 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

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.

0814b

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.