“Bottle up and go!” – Tommy McClennan
The lawyer we hired to pay any bribes and help in addition to the sales of the van told us everything was ready. We could leave anytime. The van was a white, mid 80’s Dodge Ram with the addition of gold trim around the wheel wells and a lock hasp that had been installed to protect the gas tank from unscrupulous siphoning.
The tires were in good shape. The van was overall pretty ‘kush’ with the golden brown carpeted interior. The two ‘captain’ seats in the front had padded armrests that could fold back out of the way, and the passenger ‘captain’ seat could swivel around to face the back of the van. They both had ‘kangaroo’ pouches on the back to easily store maps and other small things.
There was a pretty nice sound system, which, as we all know, is an essential necessity of any rocking van! It didn’t have the table that would have fit into the cup hole in the middle of the floor, but that would have only been in our way. The back seat was folded into a bed so our new quilt fit perfectly! All in all, our new mothership was a winner!
Packing everything from our room, Ron also packed his stuff up. ‘The kitchen’ went into some milk crates, we had rounded up somewhere, giving a little relief to our ridiculously large backpacks. We could also pack the tent and the sleeping bags into the back of the van. Most everything we had fit in the back of the van under the bed, leaving the main part of the van for all that we bought for reselling.
We went to all our suppliers and told them we were ready for delivery, and soon the van was fully packed with ten enormous bags. That afternoon we loaded ourselves; I was in the captain’s seat driving, the lawyer in the co-pilot’s chair, Donna and Ron in the back on the bed, and we began our eight-hour journey to the Guatemalan / Mexican border. As we drove off, we waved and said ‘goodbye’ to Panajachel.
The van was a pleasure to drive, handling the curvy road like a champ, and the sound system sounded great! The mixtape that came with the van had some great tunes on it. We were rocking out when to my horror, “Hotel California” came on, and I looked at Donna in the rearview mirror. She looked back at me in the mirror. I’m sure she was thinking the same thing I was.
We have a deep connection with this particular song and have correlated strange events and occurrences in our life that happen after hearing this song. It seems to be akin to a cosmic roll of the dice. “It could be Heaven, or it could be Hell,” as the song says. The last time we heard it, we got sick in Zipolite.
With their bright high-pressure sodium lighting casting deep shadows, borders at night are even less inviting than in the daylight. When we arrived, it was late. We were the only people crossing at this hour. The lawyer left the van and took our passports and paperwork inside. We stayed in the van. Shortly after, a policeman came out and slowly walked around the van, looking it over. Then through the window, he slowly looked us over.
“Nice radio,” he said, returning to the station. After a while, the lawyer came out and said, “Yes, to complete this deal, I believe you need to sweeten the transaction with your radio.” Agh! Without a sound system, this would be a long journey, but what would we do? I removed it and handed it to the lawyer. He returned our passports shortly after and said we were free to go, bidding us farewell. The gate raised, and we left Guatemala and the high-pressure sodium lighting of the border behind. “Hello, Mexico!” we exclaimed as we drove into the darkness.