Thursday, August 25, 2016

Chicken Bus Fever Part VIII Capital Bound

I read a travel passage from Thomas Wolfe after watching the biopic movie Genius (2016). Wolfe is one of my favorite writers and for at least a month in the '90s I thought if I could memorize the dictionary and drink heavily and live in a Cleveland slum or a Baltimore public housing then I would type a novel capturing my tortured artist soul and thus exact my revenge on the many N.Y. editors who rejected my manuscripts. Fuck them! I had the fire, like Wolfe, and merely needed the right combination of events to ignite the words that hammered for release from my schizophrenic brain. I even read a dramatic passage about growing up from The Web and the Rock to 9 year old campers when I was a counselor one summer. Man, I was going to throttle them with impressive imagery and the magnificence of life! Well, the recent movie is another topic, but it led me to read some of a piece of travel writing Wolfe published back in 1937. It was about his trip through Germany and I was curious how he tackled the nuts and bolts of travel writing. Maybe I could learn some tricks. 

See, these essays have no rules. Travel writing is notorious for expounding on other topics. Bill Bryson is a funny writer whose books fall in the category of Travel, but one would never learn anything about the places he visits by reading them. He simply rambles about observations and some bits of generic research. Likewise, these are the musings of Oggy as he travels, but I avoid the details like, "I stepped on the white travel van, bumped my head on the door slide because my pith helmet blocked my eyesight. The body heat and odor from the van enveloped me, I nervously winked at a young girl whose eyes widened like I had flashed my withered genitalia at her. This would be a long trip." Things like that are within my 'ability', but I don't get much enjoyment from writing them unless there is some entertainment behind it. Even then it would be too involved. It's bland, too slow. I want to get to the meat and skip the potatoes. I tell myself that I don't want to fill up on bread. I consider my travels by bus and van and a boat around Guatemala's perimeter and I don't want to share every detail since that would leave me nothing for anecdotes at bars, and I don't want this to be a long term relationship, not yet. Let's call it a casual fuck. I want to get naked and get the grease heated in the skillet, if I can mix metaphors. Anyway, my goal with these Guatemala travel essays is to write exactly what stands out most prominently in my memory from that recent journey, not agonize over every stubbed toe or fart and force readers to turn the channel back to the ball game.

Well, Wolfe is a writer's writer. He wrote the shit out of whatever he was writing about and I admire him, even if he never wrote a plot. One simply drifts on a Wolfe passage like a passenger in a canoe floating down the river with no pilot.  There is no destination and you will probably crash. His observations are pretty amazing, even if you can't quite grasp what he is observing. It's like 'people watching' on a busy street, you simply speculate on everything but nothing gets resolved. Maybe Wolfe hears part of a conversation on a public telephone and runs with it. Nothing will ever come of it, but it will become magic in his hands. He and Kerouac taught me that it's OK to make up words as long as the word describes something and has personality. Wolfe's imagery is very strong and his ideas are grand and his vocabulary lets him pull off some linguistic tricks that no one else can pull off. Hesse is my favorite writer since his blunt tragedy and holistic philosophy and brutal self-exposure is second to none, but Wolfe is the stronger writer, maybe the strongest since Melville. So, let's look at and analyze a paragraph of this travel essay titled I Have a Thing To Tell You that was part of his final book published after his death You Can't Go HomeAgain

"The hour had come: along the station platform there was a flurry of excitement in the crowd, a light flashed, the porters moved along the quay. I turned and looked up the tracks. The train was sweeping down on us. It bore down swiftly, sweeping in around the edges of the Zoölogic Gardens, the huge snout of the locomotive looming bluntly, the fenders touched with trimmings of bright green. The great machine steamed hotly past and halted. The dull line of the coaches was broken vividly in the middle with the glittering red of the Mitropa dining car."

 Oggy might recall this same event thusly: "The train arrived while I was on the toilet, shitting my brains out from that nasty street hot dog. I wiped my ass and flushed it away. I glanced in the mirror on the way out and thought I looked like I was an extra in Night of The Living Dead. Pale, awful, crippled, sweating. Jesus. Who dressed me? I sought refuge in the train, a hulking piece of steaming steel and wheels. I demanded a glass of vodka/OJ from a man and when I learned he wasn't a waiter, but was a fellow passenger, I acted like I was joking. I asked him where he was going but he ignored me."

Well, there are lots of ways to treat this event but did you happen to read Wolfe's version out loud? I did. Did you notice that he didn't hardly use any word twice except "The". He used "Sweeping" twice too, but my point is that there is variation. He is maximizing the event with his vocabulary, but he isn't repeating himself. But if he used a Thesaurus then you would notice the words would be a bit too forced. The train approaches, arrives and stops and Wolfe describes what he sees at each stage. That's all that is happening. Wolfe describes a train arriving with lots of words. I would probably skip the whole event because I can't justify these words for this event. My favorite line, "The train was sweeping down on us." is the first time he uses the word Train and the imagery is of the inevitable. I'm not in love with the passage itself but I do admire how he milks this event with a variation of words that are utilitarian, no flowery, high-dollar words are used. He's almost channeling Hemingway here with the bare quality of his words, perhaps to compliment the train's own simplicity. I can't resist the chance to contrast this simplistic approach of Wolfe's with a (naturally unrelated) passage from the same book: 
"The city was their stony-hearted mother, and from her breast they had drawn a bitter nurture. Born to brick and asphalt, to crowded tenements and swarming streets, stunned into sleep as children beneath the sudden slamming racket of the elevated trains, taught to fight, to menace, and to struggle in a world of savage violence and incessant din, they had had the city’s qualities stamped into their flesh and movements, distilled through all their tissues, etched with the city’s acid into their tongue and brain and vision. Their faces were tough and seamed, the skin thick, dry, without a hue of freshness or of colour. Their pulse beat with the furious rhythm of the city’s stroke: ready in an instant with a curse, metallic clangours sounded from their twisted lips, and their hearts were filled with a dark, immense, and secret pride."

There are only three sentences in that whole passage (the passage continues for many pages). The words are well-chosen but come at you effortlessly: "They had had the city's qualities stamped into their flesh and movements...with the city's acid into their tongue and brain and vision." Now, it should be pointed out that this passage is simply Wolfe looking out his window at the neighborhood he is living in and observing it with this omnipotent analytical approach. There is no point to any of these observations. Wolfe is not creating anything other than his own conclusions and these conclusions are not actually supported by anything other than Wolfe's opinion of his own opinion. These men are nameless and never mentioned again. The serve no function except to deflect Wolfe's opinion at the reader. For all he knew these working men he is referring to were completely out of touch with the city, just moved there last week, and they had no pride, only self-loathing. But his approach is to worship them for being so boisterous in public, to project his own admiration onto them so they are worthy of his admiration, and then to direct this admiration to us so we share his sentiment. It works! I want to move to NY right now and eat greasy burgers and shout over traffic. It sounds awesome, but Oggy had the misfortune to work with these men so his perspective would be different: 

"The boss gave me shit for not strapping down the piano. As if I could be bothered to do anything extra for the starvation wages they were paying me. Some asshole in pajamas was watching us from a window and I flipped him the bird. Fucking yuppies with their morning coffee disgust me. Never done a day's work in his life, probably, just sits around drinking lattes and judging others, calling out for hookers. Sigh.
The boss yelled, "Hey, Oggy, get yer head outta yer ass'n grab the dolly."
"Yes, sir, let me just pick these last splinters out of my forearm from when genius over there dropped that pallet of dog food on my feet."
"Oggy, you worthless fuck. I could hire a wino from an alley who can work faster than you."
"Yer breaking my heart, boss. Really. Fire me and I lose all my health insurance benefits! Shit! What would I do? I might be homeless, wait, I already am homeless. You gonna take my skin so my bones get wet? Eh?"

 There are unlimited ways to approach these events and it's not a pissing contest. Wolfe has such a strong and linguistic approach that it's easy to think he's writing about something important when he is simply writing about some random nameless guys working nearby his apartment.

What is my point? Travel writing. Wolfe's piece about the train turns into an examination of German politics in 1937. You see? He is traveling and observing but he meets someone and their conversation on the train becomes a travel essay, an essay that would not exist without travel. Is it pure travel writing? Does a reader learn much about Germany? Does a reader learn how to do the same trip Wolfe is doing? No, but Wolfe is skipping over that because what he learns on that train is more important than the step-by-step map of his travels. One who travels or has traveled has a duty to lord his superiority over others. People will hang on his word simply on the strength and confidence of his worldly ways. Wolfe was not timid and he demonstrates that courage without any clear direction is still better than being timid.

I met one American on the trip through Guatemala and he was disinclined to talk so I was simply a bird on the wire, looking, pondering, investigation what peaked my curiosity. Asking a Guatemalan to expound on the political status quo was not my goal and my impression of the people, who I realize I've largely ignored, was hindered by language and cultural barriers. This brings me to a serious topic I want to discuss. Generalizations.

I think we can all stop with broad generalizations of any cultural or national group. It's simply gross to make statements like, "Oh, I thought Guatemalans were very nice." Man, what a disgustingly ignorant statement. So I deliberately avoid any kind of broad brush generalizations except when I am being sarcastic for comic effect. If I meet a Guatemalan and I get to know him reasonably well, like my tailor Rafael in Quetzaltenango, then I will tell what I know of this one person and I will not embellish or use him as a prop in my own sad saga. No. This is mostly why my essays appear that I manage to avoid any human contact for years. Because it's in bad taste to write about people I actually know, it's in bad taste to post pictures of them when I know fuckers in the Ukraine and France are stealing my content for pay-per-click marketing and furthermore, if these people ever read my blog then I will have further embarrassment. Why would I ever publicize a private relationship like I'm Kanye West? I still go back to 7 year old posts to delete them because I think they are invasive. It's bad enough I write about my own thoughts, but I must do so for practice so I can develop my communication and description skills. So, even if I met Guatemalans, and I have met many Guatemalans, I can not make any conclusion about 'Guatemalans' from the few I have met. It's insane. The Guatemalans I have met were normal people. They did not have magic powers. They were earthlings. I can't paint a broader picture than that. If I specifically pointed out the alcohol consumption in Guatemala that would give the impression it is worse than America or Mexico or England. But it isn't worse. Alcohol is global scourge. Like Malcolm X said, "That's a government seal you're breaking every time you open a bottle of booze." Yes, a government seal. That's fucked up in Texas and it's fucked up in Mexico and it's fucked up in Guatemala. In all my travels in Central America I simply wished that a town or city would banish alcohol for the love of God. I don't even mean passing a law, no, but simply admit the obvious, that this foul cane liquor brings nothing but horror to the residents and we will fucking bomb any truck trying to bring in a new shipment. And I felt the same about sugar soda that is cheaper than water in some places. Well, where are the dentists? How can you inundate a town with sugar soda but have no dentists? What they hell do you think will happen? Oh, but Coca Cola and Pepsi market themselves like fucking harmless Holy water. Bullshit. Big Red is pure poison to Texans. And Pepsi needs to get the fuck out of Guatemala except they are a huge contributor to school programs. Yes, Pepsi is probably more powerful than the Guatemalan Bureau of Education. Pepsi is not going anywhere, and neither is tooth decay. And Pepsi is not the most foul drink in Guatemala. That would be Quezalteca or Venado grain alcohol that is mixed with a fruit juice to be remotely non-toxic. It's irrational that any civilized nation would allow this complete garbage to be consumed, to tax it and pretend it's not the cause of pure horror. It's painful to watch. And we know a government can not mandate a prohibition but we also know that a community, well-armed and trained, can do anything. It's intolerable to see the destruction all over North America caused by this hideously addictive poison. Maybe Heroin is going to surpass Alcohol for most destructive drug but I'll swear allegiance to Allah and move to Mecca before I surrender to a culture whipped by government stamped booze. It's bullshit.

I forget what my point was. Something about travel and people, blah blah. I don't remember so I'm going to assume it wasn't worth making and move on with my travel tale. Pay attention because this chapter is going to get into the tiny details of travel.

The compact public transport vans were behind me. The only vehicle traveling south to the capital of Guatemala were proper buses. These Pullman buses were by no means new, nor clean, nor equipped with bathrooms or seats that did not rattle and move, but the length was what I would categorize as a bus. Since Huehuetenango I had been traveling by different sized vans, the kind with a sliding side door. A Chicken Bus is still a different kind of bus, covered with chrome and color, hard bench seats inside. A Pullman bus, however, is 2nd Class because it has a single seat per passenger. 1st Class is pure luxury of the type of bus with air conditioning and televisions and a bathroom. 2nd Class is the Pullman bus. 3rd class is the Chicken Bus. The van is somewhere between 3rd and 2nd. I guess 2.5 Class. The seat of a Pullman bus might not be bolted to the floor, but it will still be your seat and it will not accommodate anyone else. You will likely never see a chicken on one of these buses but comedians and herb salesmen know no frontiers. I never grew tired of the vans with the low roof and cramped bench seats but I wasn't sorry to see them go. My only complaint would be directed at God for causing such dramatic uplift in the earth's crust that the roads must wind such perilous paths through the steep mountains, but then I remember God granted that wish in North West Texas.

The bus from Chiquimula to the Capital cost 40 Quetzales, which is around $6. The bus was half full so I enjoyed the luxury of space, man-spreading like mad, opening the window so the breeze blew in my face. The trip to the capital is not long so I suspected I could reach Guatemala City, find the next terminal to Antigua and get to Antigua. I had no plans to explore the capital because I had been there several times with my van, too many times, and it's congested and difficult to navigate. Furthermore, Antigua is one of the most charming towns on the planet so why would I suffer in the capital when 40 minutes away is a paradise? My plan was to get to the buses going to Antigua but these plans were very undefined. I did not know where in Guatemala City I would depart the bus I was on. I knew, generally, where the buses to Antigua were, but I didn't know how far away that location would be. It turned out to be a considerable distance.

We rolled into what I think was called the "North Terminal". It was in a region of Guatemala City that I had never visited and there were no maps. Ok, the fastest option would be to simply pay a taxi to take me to the terminal to Antigua. That would solve everything because there were dozens of taxis and they all wanted me as a passenger. But, I was in no hurry and sort of curious how I could find that Antigua terminal without taking a taxi. The taxis all wanted about $10 to transfer me to the next terminal and I did consider it because when I went to get on a bus I was told I could only enter with a payment card like used in big American cities to spare the pain of correct change. But there were no kiosks to buy one of these cards. I had not eaten in maybe 40 hours so I did visit the terminal food court which was a modern delight with food options from all corners of fast food heaven: pizza, pasta, sandwiches, burgers, egg rolls, Kung Pao Chicken, barbacoa, donuts. After the rural jungles, this mall/terminal was a beacon of preservatives and immediate gratification. I devoured a sandwich that fell into my empty stomach like a bag of marbles. My sickness had safely passed but I was still recovering my appetite.

After eating I got trapped in a loop around this terminal that became a joke. I almost have to draw a map because it was truly insane how many times I failed to reach my destination. The only exit to the public city buses was over a walkway on the second floor. This crossed over the terminal bus parking area to an area where public city buses lined up to carry passengers into the city center. When I learned I needed a bus pass that could not be purchased at this station, and furthermore, I would be taking a bus to 18th ave, then getting a green Metro bus, which was around the corner from that stop and taking the Metro to a different stop, which was in the general area of the bus terminal for travel to Antigua, through a park, around a traffic circle, etc etc. I thought, man, I'll never remember that. And the buses would not fit my backpack and mandolin so easy. So I should get a taxi and so I tried to walk to the taxi area and was stopped by a high security fence. I could see the taxi area but there was no path. So I went back into the terminal and searched for an exit on the other side, taking the elevator up and down, back to the food court, and found myself on the walkway back to the public buses. So I walked back to the elevators and followed signs saying "Salida" and eventually found large double doors that should have been the exit, but they were locked. This beautiful series of double doors, obviously exit doors, were not in use. No, the exit was around the corner through an eyeglass store. I hunted and hunted for that exit for what seemed like forever. I walked in circles for thirty minutes, begging the security guard to guide me to the taxis. I also asked if there were any buses directly to Antigua, but there were none. This terminal was for travel North and East while Antigua was to the West. The only option was to get downtown and find the terminal for Antigua. And finally I reached the exit for the taxis and learned that the trip to the terminal would cost twice as much as the trip from Chiquimula. This was unacceptable from an economic standpoint and since I had no reason to travel in haste like a visiting royalty with a chauffeur, I decided I would find a way to take the bus. I was determined to travel as a Guatemalan, to test the system, and that meant getting back to the public bus terminal, but again I was thwarted because there was no easy way back into the terminal. I went in circles trying to find the entrance, taking chances on shortcuts, being turned back from the gate as a security risk. I don't understand why the security was so tight at this terminal since one still needed to pay for the bus ride. I found my way back to the terminal through another business door and then walked in loops again trying to find the 2nd floor bridge to the public bus area. Maybe I was disorientated from my sickness, tired, stunned by the bewildering modern building. I don't know. Any strange mall or terminal is bewildering at first, but they all have some common traits that help. But this terminal had no common traits. The double exit doors were simply decoration. The bathroom signs let to a dead end with no bathroom. The entrance to the bus terminal was on the 2nd floor, but the entrance was on the first and the taxis were on the end of the terminal, but there was no exit in that direction. One had to exit on the opposite side of the public buses through an eyeglass store and then walk past all the departing buses and cross a cement obstacle course to reach the taxi waiting area. And once there you could not easily reenter the terminal. And to exit by bus one needed a bus pass, which are not for sale on the buses nor at the terminal.
So, I had to beg a Guatemalan to use their bus pass to get me on the bus and then I would pay them cash. This ultimately worked out well because the student who helped me was also going in the direction of the Antigua bus terminal. This was most helpful because I did not know the transfer stop nor which bus to transfer to nor which stop was for the Antigua terminal. The student guided me onto the bus and we departed for downtown.

Another reason I resisted the taxis was because I could visually confirm the roads were totally jammed pack with cars, which is exactly as I remembered it from when I drove my van to the city. Guatemala is simply the most frustrating, awful, congested, mind boggling city to drive in. There are twice the vehicles that can be accommodated by the roads. Guatemala City traffic is legendary. To combat the congestion an army of traffic police manually adjust access to roads so a route that might work on day or one hour is simply non-existent on another day. Never mind that as a foreigner I experience all the stress of trying to navigate strange roads, but the congestion and changing routes makes any pre-study useless. So paying for a taxi really meant sitting in a taxi in a traffic jam. While the bus has an exclusive lane to travel on so I would reach my destination faster and cheaper if I went by bus.
It turned out much cheaper because the student did not want any money nor did he want food or something to drink. The bus entered the city as the skies opened up in a torrent of rain. Thus the windows on the bus were closed and the windows became completely covered with humidity. These buses were brand new but it seemed like such an oversight that the designers did not know the buses would be used in Guatemala City where a rainy season floods the streets and skies every afternoon during June and July so maybe there should be something to let the windows keep the rain out but let air flow through so it does not become a humid sauna. No, that was too much to ask and we were all trapped in a hot wet aluminum tube with windows dripping our body heat. Finally, we reached the downtown area, I think 18th ave or Calle 18. Well, it was not within sight of the transfer buses, the Green Line bus and my guide led me through the rain. I tried to stay out of the river in the street but eventually the umbrellas and the humanity crowding under the awnings of businesses drove me to the edge of the sidewalk. But the street edge of the sidewalk is exactly where the spouts from the roof drain. Each roof in Guatemala is flat and will collect water like a concrete swimming pool if it does not drain, and the drain is usually a pvc pipe coming out of the roof area and directing water toward the street so that every few feet there is a hose pouring water inches away from pedestrians. This is common in Mexico too where roofs are flat. It works great to collect rainwater but in the commercial district it becomes a menace because if one can not walk in the middle of the sidewalk then one must dodge the steady hose of water that is pouring water off the roof. But the street itself is simply a river about 5 inches deep of water rushing to the lowest spot of the city. Many times in Guatemala I had to flag a pickup truck down to ride on the back simply in order to cross a street that was flooded because the detour could be several blocks up and back. 

My guide was courteous not to abandon me to run to the next bus and we were both completely soaked from top to bottom after running through the river in the street to reach the Green line shelter. The Green Line accepted coins and cost around fifty cents. This was a busy time of late afternoon and we had to muscle our way into the line and work hard to reach the mass people mover. These are modern buses with two passenger cars, almost like an urban train without a track. I forget the name of the stop for the Antigua. I think the terminal area is known as Santa Cecila, but that was not necessarily the name of the bus stop we disembarked at. Nor is the terminal within sight of where we got off the bus. The Antigua buses were through a park and around a traffic circle and across a street. Lastly, there is no terminal. The buses to Antigua and other destinations to the West simply park on the side of the street and attendants run next to them shouting out destinations and helping people thrown their cargo on top. This is where my guide left me and without him I'm sure I would've been hopelessly lost in downtown Guatemala City. 

A bus departs for Antigua every few minutes and I didn't have to wait more than 30 seconds before a true Chicken Bus in all its chrome glory passed going to Antigua. Fortunately it had seats but all the seats were soon gone. And passengers kept getting on. More and more. The attendant pleaded with passengers to push to the back but there was absolutely no more space. Still more passengers crammed their way on so that there were 7 people in rows with space for 4. Each bench was designed for two, but fit 3 if everyone sucked in their gut or dislocated a shoulder, and then one person sat with an ass cheek on the very lip of the two adjacent benches. I'd like to say we were off to Antigua, but this is Guatemala City. Nothing is done quickly in a vehicle. NOTHING. If you are so foolish as to drive in Guatemala City then you will spend at least 50 minutes for every mile of travel. We crawled so slowly that I thought I could walk faster to Antigua. This is why it is so critical to be physically well enough to not vomit or shit your pants on the buses because you may be 10 miles from your destination but the trip will take 5 hours. In Guatemala City this is very likely. Traffic was absolutely dead stopped with no one moving on the westbound route out. We simply sat there for many minutes with rain pouring through the window and my rib cage being crushed by everyone around me. It's only a 40 minute trip to Antigua but we did not move more than 1 mile in 40 minutes. Traffic in Antigua is simply intolerable. They try to limit vehicles by setting a daily limit on certain license plate numbers, they reroute traffic to adjust for daily surges, the roads themselves are not in bad repair nor are they very narrow. The roads are normal, they are in good condition. The routes are a bit bewildering, but with time one could learn how to get around the general zones. BUT, there is simply too much traffic. Simply too many vehicles for that amount of space. The limit has been reached, everyone knows it, officials know it, police know it, politicians know it, drivers know it, passengers know it, pedestrians know it. No one can tolerate that much traffic. I have lived and driven in Los Angeles, Van Nuys, Boston, New York, San Francisco but Guatemala City has the worst traffic conditions I've ever experienced. I only spent a few days there, a week at most, but only around 2am were the roads tolerable. The rest of the day they are jammed with traffic. I was on a bus and I was till frustrated. For the love of God, we can not keep pouring vehicles into cities that are surrounded by mountains. They can not widen the roads any more. There simply need to be fewer vehicles. That's the answer! It is not real difficult. Fewer vehicles.

All things must pass, so after a few hours we got out of Guatemala City and the bus was so completely packed that the attendant crawled over the seat backs without ever touching the floor in order to collect the $1 fare to Antigua. He performed this acrobatics act with pure professional aplomb, climbing over people's heads, only stepping on the seat back and not on my hair, using the roof and the luggage racks for balance. The only unoccupied space in that bus was the area near the luggage rack and roof and the attendant wove his way collecting money from people and giving change using one hand as we began to hurtle through the mountain curves. Once we broke free of the traffic congestion we sped like harried hell hounds, stopping only to pitch commuters off near their homes. That bus driver could make the 40 mile trip in probably 15 minutes if there were no other vehicles on the road and he didn't have to stop to let passengers off. He drove so recklessly and insanely that I realized that travel on the vans had spoiled me with their sensible pace. Chicken Bus drivers are the gold medal winners of all public transportation. I bow to their athletic superiority and total disregard for safety.

We rolled into Antigua and I felt like I'd come home. Antigua is one of the most charming cities I've ever seen and I don't want to spoil it for anyone by describing it in great detail. Antigua is famous, although it was not even on my radar when I arrived in Guatemala. I lived in Quetzaltenango and would live there again, but to visit a town like Antigua and walk on rain-slicked cobblestone streets near the ruins of a convent, a giant volcano framed by bright buildings, ever blooming gardens and bougainvillea, street vendors, Mayan artisans selling weavings, exotic food, cool evenings and a climate only disrupted by volcanic ash. It deserves the reputation as a world heritage site. Yes, it is so popular that I was suddenly surrounded by Gringos and my hostel was hosting a night of vodka jello shots to travelers who had spent the day snowboarding on a volcano, but this is natural for a place so attractive and accessible. I would say Battle Harbor, Labrador is more charming than Antigua, more suited to my personality, but Battle Harbor is not near anything. Arctic research vessels stop there. Casual tourists don't visit Battle Harbor because it's too far from the world. Antigua is a different kind of colonial charm but you can't miss it if you are taking a bus trip through Central America. I mean, the bus will pass so close to Antigua that you have to intentionally skip it or else you will accidentally end up sleeping there. Antigua is only a few minutes off the Pan American Highway. Furthermore, if one is wise then you can drive to Antigua and keep driving South out of Antigua and take a completely different route toward El Salvador that will skip the hellish traffic problems in Guatemala City. That's an Oggy pro tip provided no charge.

Part I: Pacific Blues

Part II: Sierra Madre

Part III: Mal Estado

Part IV: Jungle Love

Part V: North

Part VI: Ruined

Part VI.5 Sweet River

Part VII: Lost and Sick

Part VIII: Capital

Part IX: Coming Full Circle
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.