Chacos suck…and my tour through the central highlands…heading north


Chacos were not made for Vietnam. The lack of proper tread sometimes made walking on any path a problem. There was also the issue of rocks and gravel finding their way under the straps and the soles of my feet. One should consider wearing close toe shoes on a motorcycle tour. With that I can say I regret not bringing real shoes, other than work shoes, to Asia. On that note, let me tell you about one of the most exciting and thought provoking thing I have done since coming to Vietnam.

I have known Tam for about a month now. I created a blog for him to advertise and inform travelers of their opportunity to see the real Vietnam. With the uncertainty I have been dealing with here in Danang, I became a little saddened at the thought of not taking a tour myself. I finished the bog and have been editing it ever since, just to make it just the way they like it. I am not a web designer or designer by any means, but wordpress is free and can appear as close to an actual programmed website as ever. There is a little more tweaking I would like to do, like adding some music. They have been happy about it so far and I think it is the least I can do for a pair of men who have only been friends, almost like brothers actually, to me. Again, they are good humored and generous. I consider them family. I think it makes us all feel good as we aim to please each other.

The day before our trip there was torrential rainfall the whole of the day. So much so it began to seep through the walls of my hotel room. I didn’t know if we would actually leave for the trip. Tam promised that when there was rain on the coast, there was sunshine in the central highlands. I shrugged off the clouds of the early morning, got my breakfast of banh mi and an Asian pear and settled my thoughts. I chose to do a three day tour of the central highlands via the Ho Chi Minh Trail going north. I planned to see Khe Sanh, go to the DMZ and crawl (almost literally) through the Vinh Moc tunnels. I met some Vietnam Vets at my mother’s surprise birthday party and I kept thoughts of them in the back of my mind during the whole tour. I also have another friend, named Pepper, who before I began my trip was put in the hospital due to illness. He is a big sensitive black man who I respect tremendously, and I played through my mind his stories of his experience in Vietnam.

The first time climbing on the back of Tam’s bike I slipped, because Chacos suck. On and ready to go, we moved through the city center. Big buildings began to disappear and more and more trees lined the road. Weaving through the smaller  motorbikes, the noise of the city disappeared and we were soon in the countryside moving along Highway 14. I’ve never seen this much green or water in my life. Where ever we went we were close to a river or a spring. About every half hour or 45 minutes we would stop and take a break. Tam is very knowledgeable of his country’s history. It was great to learn little tidbits about things I would never think about. In our country individuals choose to become police officers. Sometimes here it’s kind of like reform school if a young man has problems with drinking, fighting or being part of a gang. We stopped in a village where I forgot the name and saw a typical meeting house which they don’t use it much anymore. The further we rode the more I just heard the motor of Tam’s 125 Honda. At another “rest stop” I was able to walk around a garden and check out a waterfall.

The gardens were very beautiful and there was another showing of how Chacos suck on wet stone paths. There is a lot of algae growing on the rocks making them very slick even though they may seem craggy. I met a few men walking through. They insisted in using English, which is the case most of the time, asking me where I was from. A lot of times people think I am from India. Typical first three questions in a conversation is, “Where are you from?”, “How old are you?”, Do you have any children?” I’ve begun to lie and say I have two boys. I consider BJ (a child who was at BCC) and my godson Oscar as my kids when I talk to people. It just makes things easier. They love children here and feel that they bring happiness to marriage and life.

We began to hit some curvy roads, but we were no where near the mountains yet. At another stop we saw where they consistently harvest tea. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. A sea of green puffs growing in this vast area. There were little white hats amongst the green and it was those harvesting, carefully picking the right leaves for a good tea. From there we moved on. I looked left and right as we drove through the country side. Sometimes there would be houses lining the road, but mostly they were scattered.Some were wooden structures with tin roofs, others were made of brick with a layer of plaster and colorfully painted, but browned with age spots. These are very poor people, but Tam said only 30% of people in the countryside choose to go to the city centers to work at a company. The further we go into the countryside Tam would point out the areas where the minority people lived. They have more things than you would think. We drove down the rode and I noticed a billiard hall with two large regulation tables. The men were shirtless in the heat, drinking coffee and playing pool. Passing the open air pool hall there were woody chips laying in the sun by the road. Tam stopped once more and explained that it was cinnamon. It’s cheap if bought in the countryside, 100,000 dong per kilo.

About 50 meters down the road we stopped and met with some Katu people. Tam knows about 32 minority languages. There are 54 different minority people living in Vietnam and mostly in the central highlands. He spoke with him for a minute and then described to me how the cut the whole tree down for the cinnamon. After breaking of a stem from a branch I chewed on the brightly flavored cinnamon. As we chatted for a while groups of children were walking through. Some were very shy, but all waved and said hello with no accent. They laughed and pointed and some just stared.

beautiful bright round eyes

One gave a peace sign and we moved on toward Prao. The whole way the children waved and shouted hello over the roar of the motorcycle engine. The countryside, of course, included a lot of rice fields, sectioned off and at different stages of development and harvest. They extend from the road into the base of the mountains. Our ride began to climb after seeing the Katu children lining the road side. The mountains are covered with lush jungle that the minority people were once scattered in, that is until the government created the villages so they can keep an eye on them. After seeing the Katu I crossed a rickety, squeaky bridge into the quiet Baco minority people’s village. No one was really around except for a mother and her baby. Most of the kids must have been of school age because the village seemed deserted. Then my camera died, but not before seeing satellite dishes for television and housed without doors. Before entering the village I bought a few bags of candy for the children. I gave one piece to the baby and then we went down the road, but not before Tam explained that the kids bathe in the river. For a long time people would get sick drinking the river water. The government now supplies the village with potable water. Water water everywhere, but the government gives to drink.

There was another village of Ede people. I crossed another bridge and climbed a steep path, praying that my Chacos wouldn’t fail me. It hadn’t begun raining yet, but everything is wet and can be very slick. There were many children here. They were a little grubby and some didn’t wear any pants, but they were attractive. Once I brought out the bag of candy it was like a Burt Center Christmas. They pulled at my shirt and pushed each other down…“More, Mister Chow.” They were not satisfied until all the candy was gone, even to the point of grabbing the empty bags and tearing them apart amongst themselves. Once they knew the candy was all gone they scattered among the buildings sitting and eating their candy. It was an intense feeling to be surrounded and clawed at like that. I totally have sympathy for volunteer Santas.

We stopped in Prao and had a chicken noodle dish that was amazing. The chicken is much better in the mountains. A this point of the trip I told Tam my camera lot its charge and I couldn’t take any more pictures. He didn’t quite understand, sometimes I speak too fast for him. Vietnamese people would prefer to assume what you mean as oppose to saying they don’t understand. If I sit and nod my head with them smiling they know I know they don’t understand and we will go through the conversation again. Prao is the deciding point of where to go on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Left, and you head south. Turn right and you head north. We went north.

It might have seemed like we followed one river, but there are many rivers in Vietnam. I know it wasn’t the Mekong River because that emerges in the south from Cambodia. The strong rivers cut through the mountains feeding rice fields and tea plantations. Tam stopped on a bridge for a second and let me walk a bit. It felt good to move after being on the biket. I kicked some rocks and made my way around a corner. I was just amazed at the vegetation on the mountain cliffs. I took some pictures and made my way to the other end of the bridge where Tam stood smoking a cigarette. This particular stop he pointed out some bare spots on the mountain and told me how the mafia (we call them corporations) would pay the government to cut down trees large and small. He also told me of the damage, mainly in the south, that cutting the trees have done. Now the water will run from the mountains and kill the rice crops. Every year without the trees the water floods people’s villages and their food source.

I really like riding a motorcycle. I prefer to be a passenger. My friend David taught me how to be a passenger and I thought a lot of him on this trip. I hope one day he makes the same trip. I also kept thinking of the song Da Dip…when i dip, you dip, we dip. I was almost plagued by the song at every turn we made. I did notice that it was kind of difficult to help dip if I was busy checking out the scenery. After another walking break Tam and I met up with a young man from San Diego who had been teaching English for two years in Saigon. He was making one last hurrah through the countryside before returning to the States. It began to rain on my walk and as I talked to Nick, Tam took out rain gear for the both of us. Poor Nick only had a poncho. He had been in Hue when the rain began and said the streets had flooded about two feet before he left. We said our goodbyes and good luck as he was on a small motorbike, or better known as a scooter. We had already passed a section of road that was covered in mud and gravel, which Tam expertly got us through. Nick had a long journey ahead of him.

We passed waterfalls where the water was coming from Laos, that’s how close to the border we were. Water skipped down steps created to divert water to the river below. With so much water in this country they have to be inventive on how to move it safely. That’s another thing I think K would geek out on.

Coming down before Aloui we had a distance of straight away and I could look up to the mountains. Rows of vegetables K could recognize grew in rows between the rice plots. There was an amazing hot spring shooting out of the ground. It’s where the villagers shower.

We made it into town dry, but my booty was a bit tired from the day. 10km before reaching our guesthouse we passed a motorbike accident. It was the first I’d seen since being in Vietnam. I heard they happen quite often, but that was my first. We arrived at the Tenda guesthouse and unloaded. There was another Easy Rider from Dalat. He was an old friend of Tam’s. His client was from Australia and they had been on the road in the rain for 9 days out of an eleven day tour. They basically took twice as long to get somewhere as we were doing. We left Prao at lunch from Danang and they had only come from Prao that day.

Tam unstrapped out belongings and parked the bike. We got settled and I immediately plugged my camera in to charge. I couldn’t stand another day of losing my charge…dang it. After settling in and washing my feet of road grit we sat on a big patio around a table drinking tea. There we met a driver of a rich family from Hanoi who came to Aloui to find the remains of their family lost in the Vietnam war. Hamburger Hill can be seen from said patio. Vietnamese people, being superstitious, come from everywhere to find any remains to burn to ashes and put in an urn to place at a church or pagoda. Still covered in landmines no one goes up into the mountainside of this area.

Before some dinner I edited a little more of Tam’s blog adding more personal description concerning his three day tours into the highlands. I tried to think of ways to get his blog up toward the top of the internet list. There are many Easy Rider websites. He was confused as to why he couldn’t find his site. I told him we needed more people to find him directly, type in his address or maybe his name. I may have to create a facebook page. I did find though that over 50 people had checked it out since it had been up. It might be because of the readers of my blog, but I hope that true traffic flows through and finds out about his tours. He is excited to have his own address. http://easyriderdanangtamtam.wordpress.com/

Dinner was fish from the river, pork with vegetables, and more veggies of green beans carrot and bamboo. I didn’t care for the bamboo too much. It’s chewy. At dinner the driver from Dalat confessed to not sleeping too much due to the rain and stressing out about being safe on the roads. The real story is that it had been a long time since he had been this far north for the tour and had forgotten his way. Hearing that the rain would subside a bit he said he would sleep good this night. After dinner I realized how tired I was and crashed out without talking to K. I didn’t think Tam would snore as loud as he did, so I had to push earplugs into my ears to try and drown out the noise of the fan and Tam. It only muffled it a bit, but I had a real nice sleep.

Day 2 we woke to more rain. We sat for breakfast of an omelet and French bread. Two coffees with milk and we were on our way. Tam professionally packed our gear. No one really likes riding in the rain, but Tam was more concerned with the fact that I wouldn’t be able to see everything because of the rain, through the clouds and mist. I was enjoying the ride. I thought that what I could see was awesome. Vietnam is a beautiful country, rain or shine. We took it slow out of Aloui. Tam pointed out what was Hamburger Hill behind a shroud of clouds. I wish it hadn’t been so wet so I could take out my camera. I decided to keep it dry and hopefully there would be an opportunity later to snap some photos. The camera was at least charged and ready to go. Until it got drier I was determined to imprint everything I saw on my mind. Something as beautiful as the mountains shrouded by rain clouds would make for an interesting water color painting.

Tam took on the mountain roads like a pro. I continued to play the song Da Dip in my head. Rain fell and then receded. Before long we were stopped by the road to rest our bums. I wasn’t too sore there, but my back began to hurt a little as I forced myself into good posture. It helped with the butt pain. On the side of the road was a large river running parallel to our path.  I said hello to a water buffalo grazing on the other side of the road’s railing. The further I walked someone was walking to meet the buffalo with another. I stretched my legs a bit and washed out the road gravel from my Chacos. Our first stop was to be Khe Sanh which was a 100km away. We didn’t stop to see any minority groups, but we did stop to get some great Vietnamese coffee 4km from the Laos border. With a little bit of milk and strong coffee it tasted a bit like chocolate. We were resting as about fifty school children made their way down the road in the rain.

Nothing stops in Vietnam when the rain comes. People work, walk, and cook in the rain. Sometimes they wore rain gear hiding another one under it with them, sometimes they walked shirtless and barefoot. The rain is nothing to these people. In San Francisco I wouldn’t risk getting my feet wet. We got back on the bike after waving the children goodbye. Clouds hid all kinds of view the higher we were in elevation, but then the view would open again as we came back down. Strong rivers flowed over rocks and boulders. There were some areas that were clear cut of trees and some areas that were being mined for gold. The lushness of the greens and the plants along the way were mesmerizing. At one stop in the rain Tam touched these pants that folded up after he touched them. He said they went to sleep. It was neat to see. A minute later a small goat came out of the bushes and it called to me.We started a short conversation. I told him I was American, I was 38 and I had two boys, but I was just passing through. He came real close to the bike and then hopped up into some other bushes to continue eating. We didn’t see too many goats in the country, but there were some. I wished it hadn’t been raining so I could have caught more digitally.

Another stop before reaching Khe Sanh and I crossed a bridge by foot following some school children. While walking I stopped to rinse out the rocks from my Chacos and then watched as people panned for gold under the bridge. Tam began to tell me the history of the bridge and the importance it had during the war. We were 16km from Khe Sanh at this point. The Vietnamese win in Khe Sanh was pivotal to the winning of the American War. We also came to a pivotal part of our trip and a pivotal moment of my thinking of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

I really loved the countryside and the people in it. I watched the country side pass by and my mood began to dip as I thought about all the fighting that had happened in this area. The rain had begun to subside a bit to a drizzle as we pulled into the city of Khe Sanh. After lunch of beef fried rice, we made our way to Ta Con Air Force Base. We went down a few country roads. Some busted, rusted trucks littered the road side. Motorbikes whizzed past us as we turned down the road leading to the former air base. I thought I was just going to see some tanks and a few helicopters. I was not prepared to feel much of anything, but I did.

I bought a ticket to walk around the site where the American army abandoned their efforts. The rain continued to persist but it was almost unnoticeable, except for the drops that collected on my glasses. My rain gear kept me warm as I walked up to each dead aircraft. They stood as remnants of a time before me. As a child of an Air Force serviceman I grew up going to air shows. I would marvel at the immenseness of the planes and helicopters. As a child I watched in awe as the Blue Angels would show their nimbleness through the air. This day I was saddened. Deep down I remembered the veterans at my mother’s birthday. They had wished me luck on my travels as they wore ball caps stating their Vietnam Veteran status. I thought of my friend Pepper. Tam showed me around the site and told me more of the war he never fought, but remembered as he was a child during that time. The beauty of the countryside made me feel even more for a people I didn’t know. What I was seeing now wasn’t so back then. People lived in fear, soldier and civilian alike.

I think this is where my thoughts of war and government became solidified. I didn’t doubt that people were fighting for what they believed, but why? Why did they, why do we fight? My thoughts moved from the past to the present. The boys who died in the American war were just that, on both side they were just boys. The same is happening in the Middle East. I thought about Adil and how I was speechless when he spoke of his town being bombed as we ate bbq beef in Hanoi. I felt really dumb. Massive fighting went on in this area of Vietnam. People struggled and are still struggling to survive. Men on both sides of this war were brave. The difference is that the people of our country do not know and have not seen what was here. Americans were witness from afar.

I couldn’t help but think of the war movies our country has grown to watch and revere as truth. I thought it was sad that these movies were all we knew of what happened. The fear that these soldiers must have felt as the government insisted that they move on. This is where the U.S. armed forces lost traction. Many men on both sides gave lives. They stepped over dead people to persevere. The images struck me deeply. I couldn’t help my mood change driving past the coffee trees that grew around the old air base. Tam drove us back through Khe Sanh mentioning the 25 year life span of the trees as if we hadn’t been to someplace that seemed so sacred now.

We stopped at a very historical bridge along Nghi Road. Tam explained to me that the National Liberation Front (viet cong) would come down from the mountains and swim under the bridge and across the river into the villages in the dead of night. The NLF were scattered everywhere. No one knew who they were. They wore many shirts under another. Whenever there was an incident they changed their shirts. They could have been anyone. The next official stop was another 60km of road. Some of it washed out. Tam maneuvered us safely through mud and gravel at very slow speeds. The rain came down harder and harder, but we kept on. We stopped at a pagoda with a large golden statue high on a rock. It seemed so odd to be there after Khe Sanh.  I think it explains a lot about a people. No one was there. It was very quiet. I tried to quiet my thoughts. I knew we had more to see with the goal to make it to see the Vinh Moc tunnels. I had seen them on the history channel’s Cities of the Underworld. Before we made it there we pressed on to a military cemetery, which was Vietnam’s equivalent to Washington D.C.’s Vietnam’s War Memorial. It was a beautifully sad place. It was here I promised myself that if and when I come back to the United States I would visit to give my respect to the monument in D.C.. Children died. Some saw war for four months before they were dead. In the army at eighteen and dead before they were nineteen, all I could imagine is the wasting of lives. These kids never had a chance to live. A part of me felt so bad. I don’t think I was giving up any loyalty to American soldiers, but it feels so different being in a land that was so torn apart.

I was done for the day. Emotionally I was worn. I had seen enough of the remnants of what was. We joked about ghost’s haunting to keep the mood light, but I just wanted to leave. It was beautiful and quiet, but what haunted me was that I had so much sympathy for these people. I hope to have the same deep feelings when I go to D.C. My country has never been invaded. Since the Civil War, there has been no bloodshed on American soil. I can only speculate as to why the U.S. government felt they had business in this poor small country. I’m sad that Americans ever came here the way they did. Walking amongst the head stones and learning of the families that search to this day for their family’s remains hit my heart. I was glad when Tam told me were going to move on, because I didn’t have the words to tell him I wanted to leave.

We had a lot more road to put behind us. I tried to sit up straight to alleviate the pressure on my bum. It helped a little, but then my back was aching. I needed to relieve myself so I was happy to make it to the DMZ zone. Under the Vietnamese flag there was an amazing mural surrounding the base. We walked over the old Hein Luong Bridge made of wood and iron. After, we went to a war museum which was flanked by two bunkers. One was French and the other was American. The images in the museum were like nothing I have ever seen. I could really appreciate the pride this country has in surviving the French and Americans. We were inside ten minutes before before I noticed I was actually being filmed. I walked slowly around taking in the pictures and the artifacts of the place. Old bombs, pictures of soldiers walking over the dead, old women, one from the north, one from the south hugging at the news of the end of the war. Then there were the picture of the children.

After my walk through I was asked by the director of the documentary, he mentions this later, about my opinion of the museum. I didn’t really have words. All of it had been sucked out of me during the day. I just mentioned that we do not see these images in the United States. We hear a different story. I told him the museum was amazing and thought provoking. After their questions they asked me to write in the museum’s guestbook. There was a very old man in a military uniform already writing down words of his own. As I waited my turn the film director told Tam the man’s story and then he told me.

This very old man was a brave man. Tam began to translate his story telling me he had fought with the Vietnamese army against the French and had both his legs blown off at the knees. He then crawled, I don’t remember how fa,r to the flag that stands at the DMZ zone. Fitted with prosthetic, he then fought the Americans in the America War and survived. It was an amazing story of survival worthy of a documentary. I was so touched to have met him and be involved in the film. There at the museum was another old man who rode his bike from Hanoi to the same area carrying the flag for Vietnam weighing 15kg during the American War. I was so caught up with emotion from the day I forgot to take a picture of them both. The day had been long on the road and rich with history. My head was swimming as we got back on the bike to drive to the next hotel. We didn’t make it to the tunnels that day, but I was happy for a mental rest.

The hotel was empty and we had a quiet night. Tam wasn’t happy about the weather, but we had made a good trip of the day. No wifi in the hotel, usually used by government officials, I put my sore bum to bed and snored through the night without talking to K. We try to skype everyday.

The next morning was no better, concerning the weather. It was still raining as I woke up and watched the fishing boats make there way out to sea. Tam and I had a bit of coffee before breakfast, chatting with the cafe owner. I wish I had more command of the language as I hated looking to Tam to tell me what he was saying. He was a very nice man with a big smile. He looked no older than 30 but was 45 with three children. His wife ran the cafe while he worked as a doctor. After, we skipped back to the hotel for an omelet and bread before loading up the bike one more time. The third day was the longest day on the road. We were to be in Danang that same evening. We climbed into out rain gear and back on the bike and headed out to see the Vinh Moc tunnel system. It was only 6km from the hotel.

On the ride there, there was still evidence of the bombing that happened during the war. Holes in the ground bigger than a humvie grew green grass. Trees grew around the edges. We road along the ocean and could see many men working on their fishing boats. Cows wandered in and out of our way as we dipped through shallow puddles in the road. The rain had stopped once we reached the sight. I took off my jacket, but kept the plastic pants on as we walked through the entrance. Down paths we were witness to the trenches the Vietnamese people crouched through once leaving the tunnels. Bamboo grew in tight bunches all around us.

I began to sweat in the humidity. Instead of rain on my brow there was sweat. There is a small museum before walking down into the tunnels. It holds the film projector they showed films on and other communication equipment. There were maps and other war paraphernalia. t this point I had to take off the rain pants. The humidity was rising and the rain had stopped. My San Marcos Rattlers t-shirt went from purple to soaked. We met a old, small deaf man who had grown up in the tunnels during the war. The constant bombing that happened caused his deafness. I followed the man down onto the wet steps. I had a camera and flashlight in one hand and placed my other hand on the walls to steady myself. The steps took us deep down and the stairs had been carved into the ground.

The steamy tunnels were slick, holding in the humidity and water coming from the ground above. I dripped with sweat within the first two minutes of our descent. My camera wasn’t fully charged, but I was able to picture some of the 1x1m alcoves that served as homes for families. It was so claustrophobic down there. I couldn’t imagine having to live underground to survive anything. It was dark and the flashlights didn’t give off much light. I kept it pointed down in order to see my steps. Like I said, they were slick with moisture and I was wearing those damn Chacos sandals. The tunnels twisted around and I had no idea where I was going. I followed the little man until we exited by the ocean. I was happy to be in the ocean air. At this point my shorts and t-shirt were soaked. I thought the tour was over and we walked up some steps into another entrance. I didn’t want to go back in, but I followed him through back to where we entered. What a nightmare it must have been to exist in those conditions.

The ride to Hue was clear and the sun began to shine. With our rain gear off and the sun shining above us we came in for lunch of bbq beef and bun. It was a nice cool, but spicy dish which I really enjoyed. From there we went to the pagoda. This pagoda was home of Thich Quang Duc who set himself on fire in protest of the policies of the Diem regime. The relic of the actual car he drove from Hue to Ho Chi Minh City is kept at the pagoda. I was also moved to see the statues of warriors at the front of the pagoda. There were a few with black faces. It reminded me of my friend Pepper who is now really sick and in the hospital. The last two days of the trip were so intense for me. I really wished my camera had been working, but I will always have the images of Pepper as a warrior and never forget what people will do in order to fight for what is right.

Our next stop was Hue. I’ve been to Hue three times and never been to the Citadel or the Pagoda. This trip I did walk through a bit of the immense Forbidden Purple City. I would have stayed longer if I wasn’t so fatigued. I was also impatient with all the tourists around me. The pagoda had been so peaceful, with its chaotic history. Taking a break on a bench at the Citadel I found my limit. A group of kids stopped by my bench and all they really commented on was how it would be great to have a paintball war in the Citadel. I wanted to scream. Instead, I found a quiet place under a tree and said a prayer for Pepper. I dedicated this tour to him. I remember his stories about his time in Vietnam during the war and how he felt about the people. I hope he heals. I am sorry but my camera’s battery didn’t hold up to the off and on I put it through. I do have some pictures around the Perfume River. There is a little park that runs he length of the river that includes different sculptures.

We left Hue for Danang. We took Hai Van Pass back into Danang City. It would have been beautiful if it hadn’t begun to rain again. It didn’t just rain though. There was fog and heavy rain. At that elevation it actually got a bit cold. Tam was weary and we pressed on home. I know I will go back on a sunny beautiful day and spend some time at Lang Co beach, but  that will have to happen in the future. I plan to have K with me next time.

The tour was amazing. The best way to see the real Vietnam is from the back of a motorbike with a knowledgeable and humorous man like Tam. I will never forget what I saw even if I forgot a little bit of what he told me. I wasn’t able to record what he said, but there is no doubt anyone could learn a great deal about the country without him inflicting on you any political view. To this day he even has questions as to the why of things. I have my suspicions as to some of the whys, but I will just chew on them a bit more and try to find the words to explain what I felt and what I saw and what I believe about governments, people and war.

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2 thoughts on “Chacos suck…and my tour through the central highlands…heading north

  1. I met Pepper in SF, years ago. I hope he gets better. What a trip. I remember having similar feelings about Japan and our war with them, when I was there. It’s hard to demonize anyone on either side of a war, when there was so much death an suffering for everyone involved.

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