Mexico

Rebels and poets (Drive Day 34 minus 14 years)

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photo by Gary Geboy 

This is mountain rebel Mexico where dogs growl at outsiders from rooftops. Street kids sell homemade rag dolls of the Zapatista leader Marcos and his warrior companion Ramona. But after a few shots of mezcal in a corner bar we make friends with some locals – poets who run a used bookstore. She introduces herself as Tanya de Fonz. He calls himself Marco Fonz de Tanya. We discuss art and the relative talents of Frida and Diego. They insist there are only three brilliant muralists in Mexico and they are all Orozco. We’re in never-be-a-licker country.

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 last campground in Mexico (Drive Day 33 minus 14 years)

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In two months, I’ve gone from an entitled North American woman who wasted water every day to one ecstatic to find a fresh water well in the San Cristobal de las Casas campground. It’s mountain fresh and while I don’t trust my gut enough to guzzle it like Wipeout does, it means we can take showers and fill the Avion’s slowly disintegrating water tank to wash dishes and flush the toilet.

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According to Gary’s journal, it is a pleasant 72.7 degrees and 6,717 feet in elevation. According to our guidebooks, this spot is the last campground we will find in Mexico. I’ll revel in its little luxuries as long as I can.

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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.

Close encounters and prophetic paintings (Drive Day 32 minus 14 years)

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Painting by Juan Alcazar

There is a point in Southern Mexico so exotic, so narrow that the onshore winds from opposing oceans collide. It is so dangerous to drive through these winds that the main highway through the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is off limits to 16-wheelers during the heat of the day. That’s just the threat of jackknifing, I tell Gary – we’re not pulling a trailer behind us. But our camper feels top-heavy and unstable and the low jungle is blowing sideways. Which is why we don’t see two massive oxen emerge from the brush to cross the highway. Gary makes a split-second decision to swerve and gun it instead of trying to brake and I could swear I hear horns scraping the Avion’s aluminum sides. That’s the moment I realize where I’ve seen them before: the painting we bought back in Oaxaca has come to life.

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.

 

One Stubborn Dog and a Mexican Goat (Drive Day 31 minus 14 years)

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I’ve arrived at a heat threshold: 90 degrees. That’s the limit above which we can’t sleep inside the tin can that is our camper. In Santa Teresa Tehauntepec at 5pm the thermometer inside the Avion says 104 degrees so we take Wipeout for a walk and hope it cools off by nightfall.

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Santa Teresa Tehauntepec, Mexico: photo by Teresa Bruce

If I can get heatstroke in Mexico, maybe my dog is susceptible too. Otherwise why would she pick this particular animal to challenge, head-on? I barely get out my camera in time, I’m laughing so hard. And then she charges the goat again. The sound of thick skulls smacking literally bounces through the papaya grove. I’ve always known Wipeout has more beauty than brains. But exactly one month into this road trip she proves she is as stubborn as the woman who insists on traveling with a gun.

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 my teresabrucebooks.com website landing page or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

The Great Mezcal Coverup (Drive Day 30 minus 14 years)

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Santiago Matitlan, Mexico: photo by Gary Geboy

Say hello to Martin Garcia. He’s the reason Gary is not spending tonight in jail. He’s a world-class meszcalero with zero marketing budget so he flags down customers driving out of the Oaxaca valley. We stop and taste the best mezcal from a donkey-powered roadside still I’m ever likely to. We buy a jug, or rather we empty a pickle jar and he fills it: he doesn’t have much in the way of merch either.

Fast forward a few hours driving through semi-desert heat, a couple of nasty topes and a road block. Scary looking Federales are searching for weapons and I have a gun hidden under the camper’s carpet. Luckily that carpet is now soaked in old-dog urine and the contents of a pickle jar of mezcal that must have fallen out of the cupboard when we hit a tope. For the rest of this story, you’re going to have to read the book.

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 my teresabrucebooks.com website landing page or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

The Mother of all Street Dances (Drive Day 29 minus 14 years)

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Not everyone can afford tickets to the official amphitheater dances of Guelaguetza, so in the gift-giving spirit of the festival’s name, dancers take their daily performances to the streets. Marching bands provide the beat and proud parents pour homemade mescal straight from dried out vegetable gourds to the spectators.

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Oh and if you’re sober enough to be standing by nightfall, there’s this. And then more dancing. It’s going to be hard to drive away from Oaxaca.

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 my teresabrucebooks.com website landing page or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

A dog and her entourage (Drive day 28 minus 14 years)

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Oaxaca’s famous Guelaguetza festival is in full swing and the campground listed in our guidebook is full. Which turns out to be a good thing, because the overflow crowd gets to camp in a field of agave plants up in the hills and sample the owner’s El Scorpion mescal.

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San Felipe del Agua, Mexico: photo by Gary Geboy

Which is where Wipeout decides to hang out for our entire stay in Oaxaca. It’s a comfortable 74 degrees at 5,368 feet. She doesn’t need the crowds or the festival, she IS the party up at the campsite. With her girl Celeste at her side, she’s the mayor of San Felipe. 

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 my teresabrucebooks.com website landing page or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.