travel

All bark, with a bite too (Drive day 114 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

Halfway back to Santa Clara is a village called El Valle, nestled under the protection of mountain in the shape of a sleeping Indian Princess. But we’re more intrigued by the small bark figurines carved by indigenous artists.

1022 pnm bark deer

We’ve seen them before — life-size costumes worn by men summoning their animal spirits in the Azuero. Which is just the remedy for a weekend in Panama City and a reminder of how far from “America” it really is.

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.

Sweaty setbacks (Drive day 113 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

No luck booking passage for our rig on a container ship to South America — we’d have to separate the truck from the camper to fit inside one, and wait until a ship has enough freight to warrant sailing.

1021a pnm drunk dar

So we do what everyone else in Panama City seems to do — drown our sorrows in Atlas beers. But then Gary almost pokes his eye out on an air conditioner inexplicably head-level in an interior stairwell. When we return, this story leads to only laughter from the expats at the XS Memories sports bar. Turns out that’s how Panama works — no regulations, no codes, no protection for the average citizen. If you fall into an uncovered manhole on a city sidewalk, the saying goes, the judge will give you a fine for not watching where you’re walking.

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.

Panama City (Drive day 112 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

1020a pnm city patronIt’s less than a two hour collectivo ride to Panama City and we’ve decided to pay a visit to some shipping companies. I’m not prepared for how modern and American the city seems. I know, of course, that the Canal was only reluctantly turned back to Panamanians around the time I first passed through. But cab drivers have accents straight out of LA or Albaquerque and every known fast food franchise has staked a claim. Which is lucky, for those drivers who need to feed a hangover.

1020b pnm drinkdrivecell

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.

Our neighbor Noreiga (Drive day 111 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

A few miles from XS Memories the Pan-American Highway dissects an old military base. Rio Hato was the pride of General Manuel Noriega in the 80s, conveniently he built a beach house practically on the end of the runway.

1019a Panama 11Which didn’t work out so well for him in 1989 when the US bombed it. Nothing much has been repaired in the decades since and the empty base is a haunting, weeded-over testament to greed and corruption.

1019b pnm airtowerThere’s even a drug twist to the story. The 50 kilograms of cocaine that US soldiers claimed they found on site turned out to be tamale flour.

1019c pnm gaurd tower

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.

Fellow travelers (Drive day 110 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

We are camping alongside the younger, Swiss version of ourselves: Karen and Silva bought their camper in Canada, drove it from that country’s east coast to west then down I-5 through Washington, Oregon and California. And somehow they’ve arrived in Panama less than three months later. They’ve got a schedule to keep, meaning jobs to return to. Which surprises me. But apparently bosses there actually value the life experience travel brings to their employees. Language skills, maybe, but more importantly the diplomacy, flexibility and resourcefulness that come along with fabulous stories.

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.

Memories in excess (Drive day 109 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I could stay on the Azuero for weeks, but we have to head further into Panama to start looking for passage to South America. Hooper and Betsy send us off with the greatest gift imaginable. They know the owners of Panama’s only RV park near the beach town of Santa Clara.

That it’s attached to a sports bar and called XS memories is incentive enough. But then Hooper drops the clincher. It’s owned by another expat who used to live in South Carolina — who happened to be on the same rugby team as about half of my male friends who still live there.

We pull in and park under a sky seven degrees of separation spectacular and meet unforgettable characters: Dennis and Sheila.

1017b pnmshielanddennis

You’ll meet them to, if you 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.

The roofs of Parita (Drive day 108 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

1016b pnm partiaA town’s roofing says a lot about the people living under them. In Parita the shallow red terra-cotta overlapping tiles are a throwback to Spain and a nod to the craftsmanship that might be the only good thing to come out of colonialism.

1016 pnm parita church

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.