All Saints and little devils (Drive Day 41 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

As road trip veterans, we have a lot to learn. Like how to put the truck into four-wheel drive when the road into Todos Santos becomes a dirt path through washouts and landslides. I read aloud from the manual stashed in the glove compartment while Gary gets muddy. I am also the one who negotiates with a farmer to camp in a field I assume is his. I am also the one who pays a pack of adorable little boys to guard Wipeout while Gary and I hike into town for its famous market day.

0810
Todos Santos, Guatemala: photo by Gary Geboy

But it is Gary who figures out why the little angels turn into devils when we return – pelting the camper with mud clots, poking sticks at Wipeout, stealing our steps and demanding more money. The change I showered them with hours earlier? All Mexican coins, useless even for candy in the land of Mam.

0819a
Traditional costume, called a “traje”

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.

First night in Guatemala and way way to go (Drive Day 40 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

We pick a mountain crossing into Guatemala because the guide books call it more laid back than the search-and-frisk frenzy of more coastal border stops. It is so laid back I can’t tell where the immigration officers are and Wipeout and I set out on foot to find someone to officially stamp our passports and carnet while Gary waits for our house on wheels to be fumigated. In a small building stacked with chicken crates waiting to cross into Mexico (run chickens, run!) the guard points to Wipeout. I open the file with her visa, filled in with today’s date, and hand it to him. Which he reads, upside down.

0809190
Zaculeu ruins, Guatemalan highlands: photo by Gary Geboy

We won’t make Huehuetenango by nightfall so we boondock at the Zaculeu ruins, once the capitol of the Mam Mayan people. Who, according to legend, had to eat each other to survive a siege by Spanish conquistadores. To spite the victorious Spanish, we heat up a delicious dinner of leftovers from the San Cristobal markets: avocado and tomato salad for starters, then a one-pot masterpiece of rice, shrimp and squash – so there.

0809b
Map 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.

 

Celebrating books, journeys and those we love at Nevermore Books

Posted on Updated on

NM1 copy

It doesn’t get much better for writers than a spread in your hometown paper, a reading in a cool indie bookstore, all shared with your friends and Other Mothers. The big event is tomorrow night, at Lori and Dave Anderson’s infamous and fabulous Nevermore Books — next to the library.

So I’m driving in circles, well actually pacing the screened-in porch, thinking of:

  • all the people I hope to see,
  • the questions I wonder will be asked
  • the myriad ways I might misspell names signing books
  • whether my granddaughter will be able to sit still

It reminds me, in a way, of the butterflies that flitted through my head and heart when we set out on the road trip that would become this book. I could never have imagined, then, how life-changing and soul-bolstering a year on the road would be. Or how soul-withering it would be, waiting for the right editor to say “yes, that’s the book I want to publish!” Eventually a visionary woman named Stephanie Knapp at Seal Press (a Hachette Book Group company) did find her way to the manuscript, coaxed by my equally brilliant agent Adriann Ranta.

And so, nearly 15 years after setting out to drive South of the Border — and nearly 28 years since another road trip delivered me to Beaufort — I am pulling into the driveway I cherish most: Beaufort.

johngunsmall

 

susan1-1024x768

 

 

And just as I eventually knew that my brother John was beside me all along that drive through Latin America — I know that so are Pat Conroy, Byrne Miller, Harriet Keyserling, Lois Battle and Susan Shaffer: five people I will picture sitting side by side in the front row tomorrow night. Let’s pack the place in their honor and raise a glass to the journeys we are all on.

NMinsideIf you can’t attend in person, please buy the book through any of the fine booksellers on my website www.teresabrucebooks.com

 

Mountain mermaids (Drive Day 39 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico

It is our last day in Chiapas. I’ve now witnessed candled egg massages and chicken blessings, encountered angry machete mobs and listened to drum circle dredheads under exploding fireworks but somehow this 16th century carving throws me. As readers of my first memoir know, I’m secretly a mermaid. I love finding a sister in stone, but why did the Spaniards create her so high in the mountains, literally a fish(ish) out of water? They must have felt as out of place among the native cultures as I do.

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.

Rosa of Zinacantán (Drive Day 38 minus 14 days)

Posted on Updated on

embrodery copy 2
San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico: photo by Gary Geboy

Rosa speaks Tzotzil to the giggling girlfriend sitting next to her in the outdoor market but Spanish to tourists, like me. And she drives a hard bargain for the shawls she weaves after school, adding 10% to the total for Gary to take photos. She’s not shy and obviously smart but when I ask her what she wants to be when she grows up the question baffles her. “All I want is for people to buy my things,” she says.

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.

Not your typical Sunday service (Drive Day 37 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

0806
photo by Gary Geboy

No cameras are allowed so I concentrate on my other four senses to commit this place to memory. The smell of pine straw hits first, when my eyes adjust to the darkness inside the San Juan de Chamula church. Then I get a whiff of wax, which makes sense when worshippers drip it onto the tiled floor to serve as a molten base for rings of candles. Women fan out what look like black fur skirts and gracefully sit in the center of the flickering rings. It’s the perfect position for grabbing live chickens by their scrawny necks and dangling beaks inches from the heads of sleeping infants. Others pass whole eggs through the candle flames and give themselves gentle massages with the warmed shells. Men in thick wool vests strum guitars and burn torches of incense, streamers fluttering from their black hats.  It’s all watched over by traditional Catholic saints in glassed-off window alcoves, and suddenly, a busload of European tourists.

Their presence feels invasive so we slip out the back entrance. Our campground is about two hours away by foot. The Central American Handbook strongly advises against hiking through Zapatista-held villages, but the only roadblock we encounter is this group of kids demanding to be photographed: for cash.

equador copy
San Juan de Chamula, Mexico: 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.

 

Standoff in the Chiapas jungle (Drive Day 36 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

 paranoia files

After days of drum circles and poetry I almost forget about the ominous clippings I saved from my Library of Congress research. Until we hit a roadblock in the jungle village of Ocosingo. We’re in a tour van headed for Palenque and completely at the mercy of the mob outside. You’ll have to read Chapter 11 in the book for the whole story. Here’s a hint: it’s called Shoot-Outs. I think of Nancy in Arizona and her warning and I’m glad my gun is still hidden in the Avion back at the San Cristobal campground.

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.