When a man loses his job many things go through his mind in the first day after. Feelings of alarm, anger, grief, loss of a sense of self-worth, all of these are common. It’s what one does with those feelings, how one processes them that matters. Everyone is different. Some wallow in self-pity, some take it as a challenge and get back in the saddle, some go on a bender.
Then there’s Sam Wilder. Sam had always been a glass half full kind of guy. So it was that he decided the universe was telling him it was time to travel. As to the reason Sam lost his job, well, it would probably be best not to go there. Suffice it to say that he was engaged in a bit of entrepreneurship involving greenery not exactly within the good graces of society in general.
Thus it was that the loss of his visible means of support was not of any real concern to him. Rather, it was confirmation that he should go in search of connections that could take his primary interest to a new level. The knowledge he possessed of such matters led him to go south. As he was living in Venice Beach, California at the time south was easy. He bought a used blue and white Volkswagen van, loaded it with trekking gear and headed across the border into Mexico.
It is a truism that the young consider themselves bullet proof. Seldom is it a conscience thought, rather it’s an attitude there seems to be no need to question and a reckless disregard for rules. At twenty-three Sam, six foot one, dirty blond hair, green eyes and a surfer’s physique had never stopped to question his own mortality. That would come later.
He took his time as he headed down through Mexico. He hit a few of the tourist spots, Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, but mostly he spent his time checking out the desert and making discrete inquiries in the small towns he passed through. He found out the hard way that the inquiries were dangerous after narrowly escaping a Mexican jail cell by bribing the local sheriff who favoured him with a grin as sleazy as a skid row flop as he counted the dosh.
He made a call to a former business associate back home and found out that he would be better off pursuing his interests in Guatemala. He picked up a guidebook on his way to the border and became excited by the prospect of visiting the numerous volcanoes in the Highlands.
He took his time passing through Yucatan, arriving just in time for Festival de San Bernardino de Siena, a riot of colour, frivolity and food the likes of which he had never encountered before. He headed out to the Mayan pyramids of Chichén-Itzá and marvelled at the amazing architecture.
As he crossed the border into Guatemala at last he was amazed by the changes in the scenery and the general feel of the country. This was nothing like Mexico. It somehow felt more ancient and spiritual. As he climbed the steep roads into the Highlands he had a sense that a great adventure lay before him. He couldn’t have been more right.
Part 2 Tomorrow