Sacrificial lambs (Drive Day 226: Feb 10th, 2004)

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The festival is building to its finale and the campground is overflowing with families. Each designated spot is filled with a pile of firewood surrounded by lawn chairs and a ring of tents and cars serving as changing rooms, pantries and extra beds. One family pulls up in an old Ford Falcon with a kid on the roof holding a fuzzy white lamb in his lap. I knew Argentineans are all about family but I had no idea they even brought their pets to campgrounds. Well, turns out they don’t. On my way back from the showers I saw that in less than ten minutes the “pet” was hanging from a rope without its skin and the kid had turned his attention to the cooking fire.

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. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.

The joy of waiting (Drive Day 225: Feb 9th, 2004)

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We have no idea which day or event is the most important and it is delectable not to care. Each day brings more time to absorb Argentinean rural culture. Even waking at night to walk through the campground to the bathrooms is accompanied by the soft sounds of tango playing from radios. The local classifieds are a window to another world – where horses cost more than cars, and the newest cars for sale are from the 80s.

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. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.

The proper hat (Drive Day 224: Feb 8th, 2004)

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I have never been happier to own a decent cowboy hat. Because not wearing one would mark you a rube in Junin this time of year. I see almost every kind imaginable: from improbably white, distinguished straw toppers to rakishly angled wool fedoras. Hats are obviously the second most important accessory behind the facon knife, not-so-discreetly tucked under the belt at the small of your back, immediately accessible for emergency lasso cutting or slicing through a hunk of grilled beef. Luckily for us, the makers of fine hats and facons have set up a blocks-long market through the center of town.

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. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.

Off to the races (Drive Day 223: Feb 7th, 2004)

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Growing up in Oregon, I’ve seen rodeos. And this trip started with watching my brother-in-law Michael ride in the Prescott Arizona Independence Day rodeo. Junin’s Festival de Puestero is a tad more competitive, it seems. Like hold on to your reins and ride as though lives depend on it competitive. My mouth gapes until I choke on swallowed dust and learn to watch like a local – with cool appraisal and nonchalance.

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. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.

Cowboys start filling up the campground (Drive Day 222: Feb 6th, 2004)

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We wake to an almost full campground and the sounds of horses snorting in the morning air. Overnight Junin has become a staging ground for gauchos. And a fashion show. Men, interested in the latest accessories? Try an exquisitely woven belt through which you stash a silver-cased knife known as a “facon.” Extra points for intricate filigree and embroidery.

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. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.

A revelation: all progress is not forward (Drive Day 221: Feb 5th, 2004)

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Yamil and Magali inform us that we left Junin de los Andes a week too soon: next week is the famous Festival de Puestero. Apparently it’s the rodeo to end all rodeos and no Argentinean can call himself a gaucho if he doesn’t dress up and ride.

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In every road trip I have ever taken, even those that involve a circuit, the idea is to keep driving forward. See new things. Never waste time backtracking unless you’re lost. I’ve never questioned this unwritten rule until now. But we have already “completed” the original mission: finding the camper of my childhood. We are not obligated to follow a map or check off boxes on a bucket list. Even the idea of “finishing” the Pan-American Highway because my parents couldn’t does not come with a schedule. It feels rebellious, pointless and sublimely irrational for two non-horsey types to return to a town for a rodeo on the recommendation of two kids we met two days ago. Which is precisely why we say yes to going back. Scrapping schedules and delighting in detours is a privilege only road trips offer. It would somehow be a crime not to revel in it. The campground is still waiting for us, as if the fish and the birds knew we’d come to our senses and return.

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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. Planning a road trip? Buy the audiobook here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.

 

The secret to drinking mate (Drive Day 220: Feb 4th, 2004)

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Magali and Yamil have no place to be and neither do we, so they decide it is time to teach us the proper way to drink mate. You’re supposed to shake the mate leaves in the little metal cups with two handles, designed for passing. Then invert it against your palm to settle out some of the dry tea leaf dust and create an angled path for the water to slide down into the mix, not disturbing the carefully placed dust. Then you block the end of the silver straw as you slip it into the mug so that nothing blows up into it until you draw the first slurp of water. It still tastes a bit grassy and bitter to me, so Magali shows me how to put a teaspoon of sugar on top of the leaves and leat it slowely dribble through, offering your boyfriend or just a sip only after a few rounds of water pours have distributed the perfect amount of sugar. My English, tea-loving granny would be impressed, except for the shared sipping part. But hey, what’s a little saliva when you’re already sleeping on top of strangers?

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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. Planning a road trip? Buy the audiobook here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.