Masks and risks (Drive day 107 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

1015a pnm darido
Darido Lopez, photo by Gary Geboy

If a man came to the door of a house in America with a nightmare-inducing mask in his hand, I would hope it’s Halloween and run. But here in the Azuero mask makers are ambassadors and master artist Darido Lopez’s fanged creatures are so fearsome we order two and promise to return when they’re ready.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

If I were strolling through a small town anywhere in the North American Southwest and a stranger pulled up in a white pickup wanting to know if we were lost, I’d be on edge. If he offered to give us a ride in the back and go get a beer at his house, I’d pretend not to hear and shuffle out of range of crazy. But here in the Azuero it seems stupid not to say yes, especially when the driver of the truck is American and I could really use a cold beer.

Which is where this story gets even more pinch-me. The man’s name is Hooper and he used to live on Hilton Head Island. His wife Betsy knows a woman I call one of my other mothers. They’re building a hotel resort, just like my parents are trying to do in Nicaragua. Only Betsy and Hooper have the good luck, or  smarts, to take their pioneer spirit where its actually welcomed and any guest lucky enough to stay at Mangofish someday will never want to leave.

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.

1015b pnm me and shells copy

Peace like a peninsula (Drive Day 106 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

1014b pnm azeura copyWe are listening to the audiobook version of Peace Like A River as we glide through tranquility unmatched so far. I can feel my pulse slowing, my blood pressure easing. The colors are magic hour every hour and the views around every bend more jaw gaping than the last.

1014a pnm az landsape copy

I realize, after a day’s drive, that I have felt this peace before. The Azuero washed over my worries as a child and floats my spirit again in gratitude.

1014c trio in stream

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 highest bidder (Drive day 105 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

1013d pnm pissed auctionWe are taking a detour off the Pan-American, winding through a peninsula called the Azuero. But we could be time traveling into 1950s American cowboy country. We stumble onto a cattle auction and vegetarian me is shocked to see that a side of beef on the hoof costs more than most Panamanians’ cars.

1013c pnm man talk

But its the bidding’s intensity, the scrutiny of heft, horn, hoof that is most unnerving. Not to mention kids glueing auction numbers onto the flanks of writhing, muscular animals that could skewer them in a heartbeat.

1013b pnm cattle auctionWhen we return to the camper, men are waiting to ask us about the stickers down the back of the camper we’ve collected in every country along the route. What seems ridiculously dangerous to them? Driving through Nicaragua.

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.

Twisted, weird Boquete (Drive day 104 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

1012b pnm crazy boqIn the years since the first road trip down the Pan-American, this mountain outpost has become something of a retiree-darling. But we head to Boquete for the temperatures: cool 70s after Costa Rica’s stifling rainy season heat. Clearly there’s something in the water — this park features yard art gone psycho. Lewis Carroll couldn’t have dreamed up crazier.

1012c mapboq

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.

Frontera fears (Drive day 103 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

1011c hassleE1011b jailjournal

Entering Panama was a disaster back in 1973 — I watched my dad getting tied to a chair by his belt in a border jail and had to turn on the water works to get corrupt guards to let him go. It’s all in the book The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan-American Highway but for today’s purposes, let’s just say I really needed a drink on the other side.

1011a cr bar me

Stone spheres of mystery (Drive Day 102 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

After enduring a night at Marino Bellena I wouldn’t be surprised if the giant stone balls of San Vito are fossilized mosquito eggs. The only absolute is that they’re made of a substance quarried in the mountain range that produced Cerro de la Muerte, which leaves plenty of room for speculation. But the real mystery is how they’ve escaped the modern information era, avoiding codified, collective memory. That they’re still the cause of speculation is, in a way, cause for celebration. Not everything is knowable. Or controllable. So we leave the stone spheres and roll on ourselves, toward Panama.

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.

Primeval Paradise (Drive day 101 minus 14 years)

Posted on Updated on

1009a cr ballena copyThere are places so beautiful you are punished for intruding. The Costa Rican state park of Marino Bellena, named after the humpback whales that pass by every year in migration, looks unoccupied. I wouldn’t be surprised to see dinosaurs amble out of its wooded shoreline. But instead we are attacked by swarms, hordes, battalions of mosquitoes. And a heat so wet and blanketing that your lungs feel unequal to the task of breathing it all in. All of which is the way it should be. Or developers would surely decimate this slice of coastal wilderness as they have in Costa Rica’s north. I’m willing to lose one night’s sleep to bear witness to Marino Bellena’s grandeur but we will peel out of here at first light tomorrow. Before the circling vultures overhead drop down to devour whatever vestiges of us the mosquitoes don’t eat first.

1009b cr IMG_2240

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.