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  • Shana Ritter

Roads Once Taken

I am drawn to curving roads that appear to have no clear beginning or end but rest in the landscape they travel through. Years ago we drove from Vancouver, Canada to Guatemala. Our little truck served as our home as we journeyed from the high green mountains and gray bays of the Northwest to the narrow cliff roads of California. Huge redwoods gave way to scraggly bush, forest to desert, we hugged the sea for weeks then turned inland. Sometimes we stopped just long enough to sleep, sometimes we stayed a few days in a small town. We met the people who lived there and others who were traveling through. We shared food and stories, slivers of our lives that would remain embedded in our memories.

One night driving late on a very dark night along a one lane road everything suddenly seemed to drop off. I stopped short and we got out to find the road really did end, there in the middle of what seemed like nowhere. Below us was a dock leaning out over a small river. There seemed to be no way to cross. We grabbed some sleep and in the morning light we saw the small ferry, just large enough for one vehicle, make its way across.


It wasn’t the end of the road, just a crossing. We continued on eventually coming to the actual end of the road at a long beautiful stretch of beach. No hotels, just palapas and stands selling fruits. It is now well known, Cancun. We slept in hammocks by the sea. I can still hear the sound of the waves some forty years later.


I have lived in a landlocked place for over thirty years. I am surrounded by trees and blanketed with sky. My house sits up on a hill and at this time of year our driveway appears to fall off into an ocean of green. The wind coming through the trees can sometimes sound like waves. But there is no taste of salt on the air at all.

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