" … see the whole thing is a world full of rucksack wanderers, I see a vision of a great rucksack revolution thousands or even millions of young Americans wandering around with rucksacks, going up to mountains to pray, making children laugh and old men glad, making young girls happy and old girls happier, all of 'em Zen Lunatics who go about writing poems that happen to appear in their heads for no reason and also by being kind and also by strange unexpected acts keep giving visions of eternal freedom to everybody and to all living creatures." – Jack Kerouac, Dharma Bums
I had no map, few directions, just an address for some medical students in Guadalajara when I boarded the Greyhound Bus at the dingy downtown Los Angeles terminal, headed for Nogales, AZ and the Mexico border. It was 1974 and the world was still burning with the flames of Vietnam, ghettos riots, counter-culture rebellion, international student revolutions, Nixon Empire, political assassinations and personal tumult ('What's it all mean Big Daddy? If you don't know by now, then I can't help you.'). I didn't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. I had a Jack Kerouac tract packed in a sack on my back. That was the only compass I needed at the time. Through San Berdoo, Indio, Blythe, Phoenix, Mesa and Tucson this 12-hour bus trip offered a scenic highway tour complete with a soporific series of roadside signs along the way. To keep it all lively, there were four guys singing some soulful doo-wop in the back of the bus:
Bo, bo (Doo doot, doo doo, doo, doo) There she goes (Doo doot, doo doo, doo, doo) There she goes (Doo doot, doo doo, doo, doo) Bo, bo (Doo doot, doo doo, doo, doo) Bo, bo (Doo doot, doo doo, doo, doo) – There goes my baby ... 1
At some way station before Phoenix, I asked these brothers where they learned to sing so fine. "Man, we're the Drifters and we're performing in concert at Holloman AFB in Alamogordo, NM." Hey, I was drifting with the Drifters! After the singers transferred buses in Phoenix, the Greyhound pushed on into the night and I was speaking Spanish (hablando Espanol) with a man (con un hombre) who would later guide me across the border (la frontera) at the Nogales, MX crossing (el crucero). "Just wave at the custom inspectors (los officiales) and follow me," he said. With my long hair, Kelty pack and guitar, I crossed the border into Mexico. Onwards and Upwards (arriba y adelante).