Welcome to the original Johnadrift, the record of John's yearlong sojourn down the Mississippi River and through Latin America, from August '11 to August '12. The content outside this purple text remains in its (lightly edited) archival form. This home page had served as an intro, and to air out major decisions as the trip lengthened and developed. The journal and other items are linked above.

( - ed., March, '21)

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Welcome friends, fam, colleagues, onlookers, and web wanderers! This website will document in words and pictures John's lengthy journey unto the uttermost ends of the earth.

Here's the plan, more or less: In mid August, I put my stuff in storage and render myself homeless. I then drop a canoe into the Mississippi River and slip stealthily down to New Orleans (perhaps six or seven weeks). There I pause and refresh. From thence, the Greyhound to the Mexican border. Then buses, and pauses, and more buses and pauses, for perhaps four or five months, through Latin America, as far, I imagine, as Tierra del Fuego. What, no more continent? I'll pause, and gaze into the frigid and tempestuous sea, and consider my prospects. If I haven't gone native, I'll think about coming home, though I may swing wide in doing so.

I expect all this will be difficult, dangerous, frightening, and enlightening. Also strenuous, vexatious, absorbing, and tedious. As well as fulsome, lonesome, awesome, and free.......everything that I love. So bring on the existential joys and despairs!

Let's sing along with Walt:

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,

Healthy, free, the world before me,

The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.....

.....I inhale great draughts of space,

The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

- Whitman, from Song of the Open Road

.....and attend to this musing of Lord Byron:

"The great object of life is sensation, to feel that we exist"

I'm on it, m'lord!


Home Page Update 9/23/11

It's plain that my time estimate for the river journey was way short. At my present rate, it would be a ten or eleven week affair. See "Pace" in the Topics section for the details and my thinking on the matter.

Update 11/3

Arrived New Orleans, Halloween. The medical authorities have stamped my hernia as suitable for export. So I won't be hanging around New Orleans for a month or more recovering from surgery. But I will be hanging around for a week or more, enjoying this utterly unique town, and unhurriedly preparing for at least four months south of the border.

Update 5/12/12

Tierra del Fuego is no longer on the itinerary. This decision has been creeping up on me for quite a long time. Finally giving up on the idea was somewhat agonizing, as I do love to go to the ends of things, but the calendar is imperious. Every segment of this trip has taken longer than I first envisioned. All well and good, but the downside of all my protracted and amiable ambling is that I've lost the season for the far southern reaches. By the time I'd get down to 52-55 degrees south latitude, it would be deep winter. It's a marine climate, and mostly not so high, so the cold wouldn't be so bad. But the days would only be nine or so hours, including usable twilight, and my googling reveals that transportation and lodging becomes minimal at the great Torres del Paine National Park. So the whole prospect becomes difficult, expensive, and fairly miserable. So, with the Ends of the Earth no longer drawing me on, I'm no longer sure about continuing to Chile or Argentina. In neither country had I ever planned on much besides the bus trip to and from Patagonia, though I would like to see their metropolises. For the moment, I am happy to linger in Bolivia. As for swinging wide on my return, this may yet happen.

Update 7/3

A seductive voice from the Ends of the Earth have been whispering to me in my dreams. Tierra del Fuego is back on the itinerary*. (*Though I reserve the right to flip-flop, as it still is expensive and a bit troublesome.) My researches reveal that the drier, lower Argentine side is an appealing place, and a climatically and logistically doable prospect. I had to reconcile myself to getting all the way down there and not seeing Torres del Paine National Park and the other great places that winter makes more or less inaccessible. It would be like going to Paris and skipping the Champs Elysees and the Louvre, and keeping one's back to the Eiffel Tower. But it's still Paris, right? So after a little more Bolivia, I'll be heading south by leaps and bounds. As for swinging wide on my return, I decided quite a while ago that this will not be happening. As most of you know, this was always envisioned to be a little jaunt over to Spain, and perhaps Italy, for six or eight weeks. (....and perhaps more.....Turkey, India, Indonesia.....snap out of it , John!) The idea was I'd visit friend Luis in Madrid, and meet friend Brad in Barcelona and travel with him as long as he wished, and perhaps then continuing for a time. But again, my unhurried pace has put the timing off. Summer is a bad time to be in southern Europe, and Brad can't make it anyway. So this trip will finish as a purely Pan-American odyssey. I'm aiming to be home in late August, making it a full, round, and elegant whole year.

Update 8/1

I have availed myself of the flip-flop option. Tierra del Fuego is again off the itinerary. Though the elegance of this latitudinal stunt is truly appealing, I have at last balked at the extra trouble and expense. My options and prospects down there were still iffy, which led me to think that the time it would take to (barely) do it justice would be better spent on more certain (and more culturally interesting) alternatives. However, I will continue south, indeed into Patagonia, to visit the whales off the Argentine coast. I'll be northbound after that, heading for a fork in the road which needs to be decided soon, as it involves the purchase of an airline ticket. (A fork declined along with Tierra del Fuego was a Caribbean vacation on my way home. The provisional plan for quite a while was to fly from the southern extremity to Buenos Aires for a short visit, and thence to the Dominican Republic for ten days or so. But my studies in the ($50!) guidebook persuaded me that this was not a good idea). There will be another update shortly explaining my fork decision, whatever it may be. Tomorrow, I cross another border.....

Update 8/12

Though I've had a pleasant and eye-opening interlude down here in the southern cone, it's time to turn away from its familiar first world comforts and finish up my trip back in the third world. So, I'm heading for Paraguay, a country that hardly figures on the Gringo Trail. From there, I will be drawn like a homing pigeon back into dear Bolivia. (Practicalities may require that I duck through a corner of Brazil). I'll end my Latin American survey with a pass through the Jesuit mission towns in the east of the country. I'll fly out of Santa Cruz, and will emerge back in Podunk late on Wednesday, August 29th. This is a few days earlier than I'd like, but I couldn't pass up the cheaper flight. My wanderjahr will come in at a year and seven days. Seems about right. What a world.