Message modified by board administrator April 14, 2011, 4:14 pm
[First posted September 30, 2008, 5:45 pm]
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Then I intercepted a Green Tortoise bus leaving from San Francisco on a month-long trip.
That was an unforgettable journey.
Sometimes we slept on beaches, a few times at hotels, and often side-by-side
on the bus's big cushioned platform and hanging sleeping compartments that
were attached to the vehicle's ceiling, while it kept going through the night.
I often served as translator across Mexico.
Seeing and encountering all kinds of sights and experiences, I became friends with
some of the other riders along the way.
(And with all the tequila floating around, most of us probably consumed more of it than
the rest of the year round, stopping for ice at convenience stores, getting big containers
of "no-sugar-added" orange juice, mixing it up, dripping in the red grenadine, passing it
around to everyone on the bus... orange juice and tequila, we couldn't get enough of it.)
At the end of the trip, walking along a beach on Mexico's Caribbean with two of the
friends I'd made, one of them with his girlfriend, I departed from them, memorizing my
first e-mail address for when I got to an Internet café and started learning how to use
a computer. Both had been telling me they wanted to become Tortoise drivers someday
in the future.
After the trip was over, the drivers were going to take the bus down to the Belizean
border, so when the last riders had said goodbye to Josh, one of the drivers, and after
Bill, the other driver, played his last harmonica-and-guitar song, they let me ride on it
with them to the border, where they left the bus in storage, and from the Mexico-Belice
border I caught another bus to Belize City, from there another bus to the Guatemalan
border, and then another in a roundabout trip to Guatemala City.
A few years in Guatemala living and teaching English (finally ending up 40 pounds
lighter, as I usually do after long periods in warmer climates where my appetite
decreases), and one day it occurred to me that if, like the two travel companions
had talked about wanting to do, I were to work driving the Green Tortoise when it
was summer in the U.S., I'd have a job that would provide my transportation back
and forth between the U.S. and Guatemala.
That would cut out some expense. Not only not have to pay for transportation, but get
paid for traveling the distance.
I remembered one time on the trip when the two drivers and I were sitting at a
restaurant in Playa del Carmen, open to the breeze under all the trees whose branches
and leaves out in the streets seemed to serve as shading for everything around.
We were enjoying a delicious Mexican meal, sipping some of that exquisite aged dark
"Havana Club" Cuban rum you can't get in the United States (best rum I'd ever tasted).
It was all so serene and pleasing; I was thinking, This is the life....
I wouldn't have minded having that kind of life all the time.
Altogether that trip, I lived in Guatemala for nearly four years, working as an English
teacher and translating documents.
But when my father died in the summer of 2002, I flew home for his funeral, and ended
up staying in the U.S. for a year.
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