My old street corner – and I know how that sounds (Drive Day 17 minus 14 years)

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Like every Mexican town, San Blas has park benches in a proper square called a zocalo. But the cool kids hang out on this street corner. It’s where I wasted plenty of time after grad school. There’s a term for otherwise smart, college-educated American girls who stop shaving, learn to surf and drift into Mexican boyfriends: Sandalistas.

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San Blas, Mexico: photo by Gary Geboy

Luckily my only permanent souvenir from my Sandalista days was Wipeout: the puppy I later smuggled back to the United States.

 

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 my teresabrucebooks.com website landing page or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

 

The perfect singer for a Mexican road trip? Linda. The perfect writer? Lawrence.

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Normally I’d be super jealous of a writer who gets to ride-along with Linda Ronstadt, on a Mexican road trip. But I went to J-school with Lawrence Downes and I know what an amazing writer he is. Plus, he can hold his mezcal. So in the spirit of sharing all great things literary and Latin — I hope you enjoy this piece from the New York Times.

A Tall Fishing Village Tale (Drive Day 16 minus 14 years)

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Gary says he got more peace and quiet when I was sick. Apparently I’m chattering so much about the approaching fishing village of San Blas that I’m repeating stories about it. Like how I was scared Santa wouldn’t find the picturesque turnoff my parents took to spend Christmas. And how mom’s journal describes the beach we camped on as “like Hawaii.”

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San Blas, Mexico: photo by David Bruce

Clearly she’s never been to Hawaii and my childhood memories are suspect. The turnoff is still jungle-splendid but San Blas hasn’t quite recovered from a massive hurricane in 2002. The beach is more drab than dreamy. And the mosquitoes are so intense Wipeout hides her nose with her paws.

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 my teresabrucebooks.com website landing page or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa

I’ll take some valium with my Mazatlán please (Drive day 15 minus 14 years)

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I vomited through Mazatlán the first time, according to my mother’s journal. And it looks like history is repeating itself. I don’t know how Gary manages to pantomime a woman now fainting as well as puking, but he finds me a clinic. The doctor thinks it’s heat stroke and severe dehydration. Six hours of intravenous electrolytes, Cipro and Valium later I am recovered enough to take a tentative dip in the ocean.

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Which is when this happens. Jellyfish tentacles wrapped around your thigh are never fun, but I’m beginning to wonder if I can handle this road trip. What would people think if we turn back barely a week after crossing the border?

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 my teresabrucebooks.com website landing page or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

 

Nervous about nothing

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I’ve been out of journalism now longer than I was ever in the profession, which might explain why I was a tad nervous for last night’s DC bookstore debut event for THE DRIVE. Upshur Books likes their readings to be conversations, so real live journalists pepper the authors with questions. I was lucky enough to have Vox New’s Sarah Wildman say yes — a big-time, globe-trotting, in-the-know reporter who usually interviews foreign leaders.

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And even though I’ve known her since before she started writing for the likes of NYT, Vogue and before she wrote an amazing memoir herself  (we met in dance class at Joy of Motion I’m not saying how long ago) she didn’t cut me any slack.

Me: Should we meet up early, you know, to go over how what to talk about?

Sarah: Actually I want the conversation to be unrehearsed.

Me (in my head) — oh yeah, that’s right. When I was a journalist I never gave interviewees my questions ahead of time either.

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In the end — of course — she was right and the crowd that made it to a literary event on the hottest day of the year got a ring-side seat to the craft of interviewing. She saw parallels, motifs and even characters in the book that I’d been too close to articulate. Like how meeting the people who had rescued the first Pan-American journey was a two-way gift from the Gods of Travel. And how the gun, which haunted me throughout the drive, was the decision that ultimately led to my understanding that it’s impossible to control what happens on the road. Or in life.

And even though she wouldn’t give me even a hint of what she thought of THE DRIVE before hand, I’m pretty sure she’s now the book’s biggest champion.

Paying for my sins (Drive Day 13 minus 14 years)

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Gun guilt ravages my intestines all through the night. The heat inside the Avion doesn’t help. Or Wipeout’s wet nuzzle inserting itself between my chin and the toilet seat as I vomit. This is not the first night I imagined.

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At least I’m prepared. Meet my portable hospital, stuffed with everything from snake bite kits to antibiotics. All it needs is a cure for traveler’s paranoia.

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 my teresabrucebooks.com website landing page or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.

South of the Border (Drive Day 12 minus 14 years)

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None of the officials taking our money, stamping our carnet or scanning our passports asks to see Wipeout’s painstakingly Photoshopped canine visa. It probably helps that she’s sound asleep on the back seat. And Gary’s calm “nope, just a camper, nothing to declare” satisfies official interest in the Avion.

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Northern Mexican desert: photo by Gary Geboy

There’s no way we’re boondocking on the side of the road in 110-degree desert, so we push on for 13 hours to a campground in the beach town of San Carlos. The gin is warm and the tonic flat but no cocktail has ever tasted better.

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 my teresabrucebooks.com website landing page or here or here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.