About this Site

This winter I was at a party on the Kawerau River, standing around the fire pit with a bunch of neo-hippie types, getting high. Started to tell of my bike trip. They couldn’t believe it. Mentioned that I had some transcripts. “Can we see them?”

One thing led to another and the result is this web site. I’ve uploaded the transcripts through December and will upload the rest (along with more ‘High Road’ and ‘Scene’ posts) if anyone is interested.

The Journals

The journals themselves consist of two 150-page 9½”x6” ‘Permacover’ spiral notebooks.  I updated the journals at least once a day, sometimes more, always using different colored pens.

The first entry was 12 October, 1976. The final entry was 7 April, 1977. I filled both notebooks, single-sided only. Every day I’d record the date, the day’s narrative, kilometers ridden and money spent with running totals. Exciting days would take up to two pages. Relaxed days on the beach, somewhat less.

On addition to daily entries, the notebooks contain a list of the gear I had packed, names and addresses of people I met, language notes and random jottings. I took care with my penmanship, printing legibly. I wrote in formal paragraphs and used correct punctuation.

The journals have held up well. All the pages are intact, the writing is unfaded and still sharp. I have taken good care of these notebooks as I moved around the United States, to Australia and finally to Queenstown New Zealand.

Each time I re-read them I would be blown away. They were well-written, informative and just plain fun. Too much fun to keep tucked away in a bookcase.

The Transcripts

I always knew that these journals would make good reading but never had the spare time to type them up. Lock-down gave me that opportunity. I would finally have a chance to transcribe them properly. I spent about 50 hours, including proof-reading, to transcribe 28730 words.

The transcripts are verbatim, exactly as I wrote them 45 years ago. The words capture my energy and describe the built and natural landscapes that I traversed. I’ve left the entries unedited to retain their spontaneity…I would often write a couple of times a day when I had the chance. I was a decent writer and I think they can stand on their own.

A couple of conventions. I rarely refer to Cannabis. I didn’t want the Federales to know I was a doper if indeed the notebooks were confiscated. So I used the term ‘relaxed’. “Took a walk up the valley wall to watch the sunset, nice view of town. Back to the hotel room and relaxed.”

So every time I wrote ‘relaxed’, I was getting buzzed.

Similarly, I never elaborated on any of the lovely women I met. Too personal and, again, didn’t want to record intimate details for other eyes. My euphemism would be ‘party’. “Met up with a friend from Tulum and partied into the night.”

So every time I wrote ‘party into the night’ or ‘spent an enjoyable evening’ I was getting laid.

Other than that, I wrote as much as I could as it happened. The meals that I ate, the sites I visited, where I slept and the day’s travels. Always with as much context and background as possible. I enjoyed the process at the time and it helped me distil the day’s activities into some sort of order.

Preparing the transcripts was equally enjoyable. I’d look forward to typing up the next adventure. Writers often get into a ‘zone’ in which they go inside the very content they are preparing. You live the words. These journals were like that. I could transport myself to Tulum or Roatan whenever I sat down to type. As far as writing projects go, this one was a peach.

‘High Road’ and ‘Scene’ Posts

A series of Posts add context and provide a few details that didn’t make it into the journals. They fall into two categories.

The High Road to Panama – Connoisseur’s Guide to Caribbean Cannabis: Highlights the killer weed I chased down with descriptions, prices and effects. Mayan Green, Oaxacan Spears, Panama Red, Colombian Gold and more…

The Scene: Focus on the hip hot spots with additional details and descriptions. Tulum, Palenque, Lago Atitlan, Roatan and more.

The Photographs: All of the photos were taken by the writer.

The Maps: All the maps were prepared by overlaying lines and labels using ‘Paint 3-D’ onto a series of basemaps, depending on scale. The basemap for the Mexican maps is my original 1975 AAA ‘Mexico and Central America’ roadmap. It had one crucial error. Otherwise it was adequate.

The basemaps for the remaining maps were taken from two 1985 National Geographic publications: ‘Atlas of the World’ or ‘Atlas of North America’.

The Writer

Queenstown-based geographer Phil Parent is a keen observer of the natural and built environments. With partner Laurel he travelled extensively in South America, Africa and Asia before receiving a Master’s Degree in Geography from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He specialises in GIS, data analytics and network security. A naturalised New Zealand citizen, Phil and family relocated to Queenstown after immigrating to Auckland.

Ben Lomond, July, 2022

I’m looking forward to uploading the adventures and posting the blogs in the upcoming months. I hope you enjoy it. Please leave comments.

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