A Travel Journal, SUVpacking America

On the road. Discovering who This New Man is.

The Dog Days Of Tenting


Living on the wild can be tough on man and beast alike. We’re discovering quickly that not all dogs take to camping as easily as they go to heaven.

Shiroco, the old and worn one (the “Desert Wind”), actually does pretty good; he seems to adapt well with his walks, doesn’t get too distracted by the abundance of new smells, and moves with nature’s callings with little struggles or grunting. Shetan, the teenage Border Collie qua Black Lab (the “Black Devil”), seems to let his anxieties get in the way.

Life’s tough on the road for beasts of all types, even when they are not charged with listening to and actually hearing the changing tales of men. But our guys are doing all right in primitive, moderate and comfortable new surroundings.

I’m thinking there’s a lesson in this somewhere for the rest of us. When one embarks upon a truly encompassing adventure, it can be difficult to know where to go or even how to sniff for clues.

I write this as we settle in off the bay of San Diego on January 9, Wednesday. Knowing where to look to find men of the changing styles or those with a smart cultural awareness isn’t as easy as we expected. But we’re learning.

Then I ran into some interesting guys hanging by the fire pit. We opted to stay near downtown San Diego for convenience and to avoid some possible law enforcement issues. Camping as a darker-skinned Latino a stones throw from the “line” between nations brings up a few considerations. We settled on not risking too much by settling in a tourist area.

But the subject still came up when the three guys who where beering the night away near their campfire got comfortable talking with us. We stopped by to introduce ourselves. We shared with them our traveling plans and they were intrigued. Living wildly caught their interest, but so did the idea of what it might be like as masculine Norte men blend their styles with Sur Machismo.

They told us some stories I will recount in another post. But just seeing me as a Latin man, a writer and cultural commentator, tossed them for a loop. Like Ben Affleck in Argo, they aren’t used to seeing Latinos in lead roles!

So did their thinking about what it must like to face traveling down close to “your border,” as Henry said early on even after I told him I wasn’t from Mexico. Perceptions can be strong — or at least they can be until the beers get flowing.

On another note, in Old Town San Diego, I had a great conversation in español with Juventino a waiter at a restaurant in the historic square. Guatemalan, he was free and comforting with a chat since their was no off-season rush. He found our Traveling 4 Men an “innovador, y fuera de lo comun, me dio su bendicion y me dijo que cuando quisiera esa era mi casa. And he believed we made a great Latin and white team of representatives to the cause.


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