Drive Nacho Drive: A Journey from the American Dream to the End of the World
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On an afternoon just like many before it, Brad Van Orden sat at his desk. When a coworker meandered past his window, Brad succumbed to an impulse and blurted out the most outlandish thing he could think of—"Hey Steve, let's drive your hippie bus to Tierra del Fuego." This prompted Steve's halfhearted response: "I don't think so." But this got Brad thinking. What if we just dropped everything and left? Isn't there more to life than this? He messaged his wife with a question: "Want to do this?," to which she immediately responded: "Yes!" They clearly had no idea what they were getting themselves into. Drive Nacho Drive tells the hilarious and sometimes harrowing story of what happens when Brad and Sheena Van Orden trade in the American Dream for a year on the roads of Central and South America aboard "Nacho," their quirky and somewhat temperamental Volkswagen van. As a result of questionable decision-making skills and intermittent bad luck, Brad and Sheena repeatedly find themselves in over their heads. Whether negotiating cliff-hanging roads in rebel territory, getting caught illegally smuggling a transmission in a suitcase over international lines, mounting a stealth mission to steal Nacho back from a deranged Colombian auto dismantler, or clinging to the side of a vegetable truck while descending a 16,000 foot Andean pass, there seems to be no limit to the predicaments that these two can get themselves into. With Drive Nacho Drive, the Van Ordens deliver a thoughtful, hilarious, and mouthwatering depiction of adventure and misadventure on the Pan-American highway—one that will leave you simultaneously shaking your head and holding your sides, while asking yourself, isn't there more to life than this?
give a firewood-carrying old man a ride. We’re supposed to be enjoying ourselves, right? And doing charitable things for the elderly? At Coban, the capital of the department of Alta Verapaz, we were sure our luck would change. We were turning onto a new highway, the CA14, followed shortly by Highway 7W. They were big thick red lines on our map, ensuring fast-moving smooth travels. Minutes later we realized that we were wrong again, as the road snaked into a dramatic mountainous ravine. We
remote town of Acul. In the mountains we took pity on the hordes of children emerging from the dense forest with loads of firewood on their backs. We awoke each morning to the smell of pine burning in wood stoves and admired the blue skies and vast mountainscapes. On the morning of our third day we pointed Nacho skyward, climbing the mountain rim surrounding the town. Once at the rim we pointed downward, into the switchbacks. From Nebaj to Lago de Atitlan we continued our slow progress across
in the tipsy basket. Brian David Mitchell celebrated his kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart by setting up camp by a river in the Wasatch Mountains and reciting a marathon of Mormon prophecies to his victim. We intimidated our victim by making popcorn and playing a game of Gin Rummy on the roof. “Squeakers” pleaded a relentless torrent of high pitched squeaks. Like Brian David Mitchell, we didn’t even care. We sat around James and Lauren’s apartment, the lease for which they had recently taken over
Nacho and set out on foot toward another vehicle, far out on the horizon. They’ll be able to tell me what to do. Sheena hangs back to read her coming of age princess novel. Fifteen minutes of walking brings me down the vast hill, across the vast wash, up the vast embankment, and then across a vast plain to where a 4×4 van sits. I find its driver fiddling with his radio. His t-shirt has a picture of a handgun, with the English words “point blank” emblazoned across the chest. I introduce myself
clothing storage area under the couch. He withdraws her clothing piece by piece until, halfway through, he pulls out a bag of apples. He holds it up, turns to look at me, shakes his head, and throws the apples in the pile. A few shirts later he removes our cucumbers, cilantro, tomatoes, and bell peppers. The inspector leans back and stretches his shoulders, and then turns his head to look at me. He’s done messing around. “I will give you one more chance. Just tell me where all of your food is.”