travel

Troubled Waters (Drive Day 48 minus 14 years)

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 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.

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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)

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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?”

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

Towns that sound like double Dutch rhymes (Drive Day 44 minus 14 years)

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Guatemala’s towns are sing-along rhythmic – Huehuetenango, Chichicastenango and now we’re coming up on Solala. Ti and do to go – but then the truck joins in with a more ominous sound. We park a gravel stream bed to check out the damage and discover the camper has slid an inch and a half to the right in the truck’s bed. We ratchet it up on its built-in four jacks and Gary serves as counterweight, gripping a tie-down cable like he’s rappelling down the face of a steel mountain. When he yells ready, I wedge a few river rocks under the belly of the Avion, same theory as stabilizing a wobbly café table with a wad to napkins. Make that a 2,500 pound table, but it’s symmetrical again. For now.

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Solala, Guatemala: photo by Gary Geboy

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.

Sites and sights of slaughter (Drive Day 43 minus 14 years)

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Guatemalan highlands: photo by Gary Geboy

 

Ten thousand feet in the Cuchumantanes mountains we stop at a scenic vista. It marks the spot of another massacre in Guatemala’s decades-long civil war – which they should probably rename the government war against indigenous peoples, considering 80% of all deaths were natives. The place is so desolate it’s as if these people never existed. Except for the wildflowers that mark the spot – blood red kniphofia.

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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.

Salvation by four-wheel drive (Drive Day 42 minus 14 years)

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Wipeout’s nerves are worsening. She started having panic attacks in Cristobal, triggered by the fireworks and thunderstorms at night. Here in Todos Santos, it is screaming preachers who drive her to biting herself bloody. They are Pentecostal fundamentalists, ranting through a tiny chapel rigged with loudspeakers across the fields. It is 65 degrees and at 7,832 feet we are in a tin can echo chamber. I have never been more grateful for 4-wheel drive – just to get us out of here.

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Guatemalan highlands: photo by Gary Geboy

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.