South American Stories

In 1974, when my world was young, I ran away from home.

I was running away from pain, true, but also running towards something that I couldn’t name but which I hoped existed — the person I really was and the life I was meant to lead.

With the partially-hatched idea of spending a week in the Galapagos Islands, I landed in Guayaquil, Ecuador, a place I couldn’t even pronounce.

I couldn’t speak Spanish. I was short, scared and wearing a t-shirt that showed too much cleavage for a Catholic country. Eager to become the man I wanted to marry, how was I to know then that the man was Jack Kerouac and I’d be on the road for the next seven years?

I went alone. I reveled in adventure, chance passion, drugs, freedom and travel. And I took notes, lots of notes.

Most of the time my adventures were wondrous. Sometimes they were hilarious. And every now and again they turned cruel.

A long time later, after I had found my calling as a journalist, I wrote a book about my first year on the road. It was called “Joyriding,” and it went through two agents and 70 rejections before I tucked it away and returned to writing about the place I love most, Vermont.

In the back of my mind, I’ve always hoped that “Joyriding” would see the light of day. With the wonders of the Internet, it may.

Here are four of the stories from “Joyriding.”

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