Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Logbook: The John Galt Line

JohngaltlineA few days ago, I had a delightful -- as always -- conversation with an old friend, client and Voyage sponsor. Among the many topics, we talked about how I was planning to get to San Jose, Costa Rica in time to meet my folks there on the 18th. I described for him an insight I have gained so far on the Voyage regarding the relationship between factors like speed, safety, stress and economy. It strikes me as a somewhat complicated algorithm, but it goes something like this: The faster and farther I move, the more I feel the need to make “arrangements” in advance. I’ll admit that I’m not yet completely comfortable riding all night on a bus, arriving in some strange city and just “looking around” for a place to stay. It would be stressful any time, but it is especially so when one reads about the potential dangers that lurk in one’s destination. In order to be “safe”, I find myself going to the website for the Holiday Inn and picking “good” hotels, any of which, of course, are not the most economical to stay in.

On my “run” to San Jose, the TICA Bus makes overnight stops at San Salvador and Managua -- even the bus doesn’t run at night in this territory. I have read blogs by folks who have done it in three consecutive days and simply “gotten a room” at one of the cheap, run down rooming houses in the neighborhood of the bus stations, but that seems to me to miss the opportunity to do any exploration at all in those cities. I don’t have to be in San Jose in three days, so why not take a couple of days in each city along the way. You probably see my dilemma by now. The longer I take in each city, the more chance I have to “check it out” -- and not totally wear myself out from three consecutive days on the bus! -- but staying in a Holiday Inn in each city for three nights is more expensive than I would normally want to finance on The Voyage. So, my friend and I talked at some length about the balance between going safe, stress-free and expensive or going cheap.

As is his nature, he ended the conversation by saying, “You’re smart. You’ll figure it out.” We said our good-byes and hung up. A few minutes later, while I was still pondering my options, I got an e-mail notification from PayPal that I had received funds. When I checked my account, I found that my friend had sent a rather large sponsorship with a note that simply read, “Go safe.” I was so touched -- and energized -- by his thoughtful support that I e-mailed him right away. I told him that in accord with the sponsorship guidelines of The Voyage his support deserved special recognition. I know him well enough to know that he always wants to remain “anonymous” so I asked if perhaps there was some way I could acknowledge his sponsorship without using his name. His reply: “You’re smart. You’ll figure it out.”

So, in honor of my good friend and excellent sponsor, I have named the run I will make at his expense through the “difficult” parts of Central America after one of our shared heroes: John Galt -- a central character in Ayn Rand’s fabulous book “Atlas Shrugged”. So there you have it. I’m off in the morning along the route you see in the map above. Twelve hours by bus from Tapachula through Guatemala to El Salvador with three nights and two days in the capitol city. Then twelve more hours to Managua, Nicaragua with three nights and two days there. Twelve more hours on the bus will put me in San Jose, Costa Rica on the 15th. I’ve got my ticket for the TICA Bus and I’ve got reservations at Holiday Inns for each stop. The trip will surely be physically demanding, but I will be safe and stress-free. Many, many thanks to my generous sponsor. I look forward to sharing my discoveries along “The John Galt Line” with all of you in the coming days.

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