hard traveling

In Guatemala, on the unpaved road from Chisec to Coban, crowded into the back of a squat Mazda pickup with two dozen Mayan campesinos, the men all strung in a traveler’s crucifixion between the side and center railings of the steel frame bolted on the truck bed – one hand gripping each bar – the women clutching their children to them as they huddle on top of cardboard boxes or burlap sacks of corn on the floor – thrown in with strangers you never knew before and will never see again after this 60 mile journey taking 6 hours, over every kind of difficult terrain, plunging drops off mountainsides, lakes of mud in the rainy season, the vehicles driven to collapse and then jerry-rigged back together on every journey, open to the elements from the scorching midday sun to the drenching afternoon rain – after several hours of this type of travel you get the somewhat mystical feeling that you have been in this truck with these people forever, and will always be forevermore. You may not like your fellow travelers or you may – some are arrogant and selfish, others gentle and generous. Regardless, your lot is their lot. Bound together, all of you move through landscapes beautiful and degraded, over both easy and difficult stretches of road, traveling on because you must, because life requires it of you. While for the “lucky” few, this physical experience has been transposed to a mostly psychic one, in microcosm, hard traveling is our life on this world.

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