FINDING AMERICA

A JOURNAL OF ANTHROPOLOGICAL INQUISITION.

1987 by James Q. Jacobs

"...the skins of animals were there only dress.
They were poor, they possessed nothing,
but they had the nature of extraordinary men.

"...their hearts were troubled; they were suffering greatly;
they did not have food; they did not have sustenance;
they only smelled the ends of their staffs and thus they imagined they were eating;
but they did not eat when they came.

"It is not quite clear, however, how they crossed the sea;
they crossed to this side, as if there were no sea;
they crossed on stones."

Popul Vuh, Ancient Histories of the Quiche Maya.

Finding America is a book-length journal of travel from Oregon to Panama and back. Written in the moment, that perspective has been maintained during subsequent editing. While traveling, not even I knew what would happen next, and my in-the-moment perceptions of events, no matter how much altered later, are preserved with the exception of the chapter descriptions below. If you would like to travel for three months, hitchhiking, exploring, discovering, all from the comfort of your armchair, put on a backpack mentally and join me in wondering what might happen next.

All rights are reserved. All material is copyrighted.
You may print one copy for your reading pleasure.

PART 1
A SEASON TO WANDER
A WILDERNESS PAST
The journey began in Oregon. In a VW van. I traveled to Provo, Utah, crossed the Colorado Plateau, visited the Superstition Mountains and Tucson in the Arizona desert, then parked it in El Paso, Texas.
PART II
JUAN OLD CHEVY
AND JACKASSES
TO THE ANGELS
or ANAHUAC AL DEDO
From El Paso, TX, to Tapachula, on the Guatemalan border, I hitchhiked from ruin to ruin and museum to museum, enjoying the changes of ecology and climate as much as the changes of pace and prices. Sites visited include various museums, Teotihuacan, Monte Alban and Izapa.
PART III
DIOS MUNDO AND
WINTER DAYS IN THE
LAND OF ETERNAL SPRING
or WHERE HAVE ALL
THE MAYA GONE?
TO CUT CANE SENOR.
In Guatemala soldiers were everywhere and the atmosphere was charged. I stopped in Solala, Panajachel, Antiqua and Guatemala City. A side trip to the south coast led to Dios Mundo. The blend of modern concrete, colonial adobe and Mayan mystery kept me well distracted from the surrounding political tensions. People warned that I'd be killed if I continued south.
PART IV
PERHAPS NOT ALL
DAYS WILL WE BE
IN THIS WORLD
or ATENCION TODO PASAJERO.
Central America was a war zone, beyond a doubt. And the problems spilled over the borders. I snooped around a lot about illegal aid to the Contras. Reagan's $100 million was being felt everywhere. Writing drew attention. Strange and suspicious things began to happen. Spies aren't so hard to spotl.
PART V
CARNIVAL SKEWERED,
COCKROACH IN
THE CORRIDOR
AND BYE, BYE BOGATA
Just after waking up on carnival morning I met a mugger and a few minutes later was assaulted by two men who seemed to be robbers, but they forgot to take my money! Who were they really? I got stabbed nine times, nearly bled to death, and flew back to Arizona to lay low and recover.
PART VI
TRUE HISTORY
ON THE ROCKS
Journeys have a way of taking their own turns. We must adapt. I hitched back to Texas and then drove slowly back to Oregon via the best rock art sites along the way. Reagan's illegal war was on the airwaves and inescapable, even when wandering the backcountry of Southeast Utah. I escaped into the remote desert and ancient landscapes, contrasting past and present.

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