I am Selling a Lot of Stuff

May 1979

I had an awful lot of, mostly junk, for sale in the back of my rusted pickup truck. I had no idea how, or even if, anyone was going to want to buy any of it. I needn’t have worried, because at my very first stop in Mexico, I pulled into the town square, lowered the back tailgate, and started putting things out. I was almost instantly mobbed with towns people wanting to know what this strange long-hared gringo was selling.

The buying crowd just kept getting bigger & bigger.

After several hundred dollars in sales I was beginning to get nervous. The crowd was getting larger by the minute, and now a local policeman was making serious inquiries as to how much a broken can opener cost! He really wanted that can opener! With great difficulty, I closed up shop, and moved on to the next small pueblo.

That’s me happy as a…….?

This time I was more careful. I did not bring everything out at the same time. It worked, and in no time at all I had made another few hundred dollars. Getting more bold, I went to a local machine shop to see if they were interested in any of the broken tools that I had brought. To my surprise the owner wanted to buy the whole lot. Once again, I only sold him a few items, and then moved on. You see, at this point I really had no idea what anything was worth so my idea was to move slowly until I had a better feel.

Soon I had almost everything sold, but, because of laws, I could not sell the pickup in Mexico. For that last sale, I had to go down to Guatemala where the restrictions were much, well, non existent. I met a nice family, whose daughter I briefly dated. Then another family approached me with an offer to buy the pickup. The price was much less than I was hoping for, but they were so sweet that I made the cash deal anyway.

My new girl friend Maria’s family

With over $3500 in cash I took a bus north to Guadalajara, Mexico. With my new found wealth I now had to decide just what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. You guessed it. I now need another PLAN!

I needed a new PLAN!

I Gotta Get Outa Here

Border of Honduras
September 1978

Border city of Leimas in the wintertime.

Needless to say I began rapidly developing a new PLAN. I searched around the port city of Bluefields looking for a fishing boat that was heading off in the direction of Honduras. I quickly found one that was willing to let me hitch a ride. It seemed like everyone was trying to get out the hell of there, and with just the clothes on my back I was once again off, but this time on a forced adventure. The trip was unremarkable except that when I arrived at Leimas on the border with Honduras and Nicaragua. The customs guard looked at my passport and saw that I had been in the country without a visa for the last year, He scowled at me for a very long time, until I offered to buy his kids, all 11 of them, new shoes. After a trip to the Tienda, where I bought 11 pairs a shinny rubber shoes, he kindly stamped my passport, and said, “Bien Viaje!”

The trip was very slow, and uneventful. At that point I really believed that the war would only last a few months so I was just looking for a safe place to wait it out. Why I thought that it might be a good idea to go to Guatemala and find my ex-wife Rainy, once again I can only attribute to the excess in drugs.
I easily found her in Panajachel, or “Gringotenango” as it was know locally.

Rainy had rented 3 small house to try and rent out.

Things quickly turned sour with her. She had rented 3 small one room houses, which she was trying to turn into rentals. A mutual friend of ours, who had a case of hepatitis, was living in one of them. Once I found out that her dishes were being mixed in with the households dishes I decided that it was probably a good idea to get the heck out of there. My Mom, who I had now not seen for many years, offered to pay for a plane ticket to visit Chicago. I had about $100 in my pocket. Now, I thought might be a very good time for to take her up on that offer.

Guatemalan pantelones

It was the middle of winter in Chicago, so of course I thought that I might make a stronger entrance by arriving in tipico style clothes. I boarded the plan with a pair of three quarter length Guatemalan pantelones, a multi colored woman’s repeli that I had made into a vest, no shirt and a pair of rubber sandals made out of old tires. Heck, it’s not like I had any winter clothes anyway! Of course I had beads made from sea shells, and I carried on a faded daypack. When I landed in Miami to go through customs the alarm went off and I was pulled off to the side. Soon a customs agents showed up and escorted me into a little room. It seems that 3 1/2 years ago I had had a warrant put out for my arrest. Shit! This was definitively not going as PLANNED.

Back in Chicago – Working on a New Plan

July, 1975

Back to Chicago to work out some kinks in our NEW life’s plan. I once again got a job as a head designer working for a classy architect’s office in St. Charles, IL. We got an apartment, now for the third time, in Four Lakes Village, which we decorated with furniture that we moved out of the pickup truck camper. We were on the ground floor, because we now had a new member of our family, our German Shepard-Doberman dog who we named Nevada, and he needed to be let out on a regular basis. Rainy hung colored sheets on the large windows to give us some privacy. She tied them back, I guess to give the apartment the look of some class? It was pretty empty, but very spacious!

We worked and plotted, dreamed and schemed and saved until by Christmas it was once again time to leave. This time we traded in our pickup truck camper on a Jeep CJ-7 and a used 17-foot travel trailer. We were sure that now we had exactly the right travel vehicle that would make it all the way down to Tierra del Fuego or bust. We drove, with big grins on our faces to Brownsville, Texas in just a few days, but before we could make it into Mexico a huge storm came up and blew our trailer over on its side, and wiped that smirk right off our faces. The repairs set us back a few days. And by January we had entered Mexico with our dream setup. We had the intention of driving south forever, but after spending several months in Mexico, we found ourselves in Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.

We spent several months in Mexico. With our new rig we were usually pretty popular too.

Truly one of the most picturesque places in the world. A crystal-clear blue lake surrounded by 3 volcanoes. Some pretty primitive villages dotted the lake, and were filled with colorfully dressed and friendly indigos. We immediately fell in love, especially when we found out that we could rent 3 houses right on the water’s edge, complete with a family of servants for just $35 per month. So, we happily stayed there for a year and a half. To read a day in the life short story that I wrote about our Guatemala lake adventure click on this link.


After enjoying our exotic living arrangement, we began to feel that all of our “stuff”, including the jeep and trailer, and all of the contents, were holding us back from the true adventure that we had been dreaming of. So, we put up signs all over town, “Gringo Se Vende Todo.” Gringos sell it all. We were almost immediately mobbed by Guatemaltecos who indeed wanted it all, and so in a few short weeks we were each left with only a small day pack filled with our most precious item—travelers checks.

The bus was crowded, but cheap!

We three then walked off down the street, and caught a bus to the next country — Honduras.