Thursday, June 30, 2011

From the Mire to the Pavement: Wall of Voodoo....Economics

     Preparing the video for this post has proven to be a challenge. From sifting through hours of footage to dealing with a poor internet connection, the editing and publishing processes have been a struggle. Though, in the end, I feel it offers a good representation of what my days on the road in Mexico have been like.
     Internet will be hard to come by in Central America and therefore my posts will be infrequent. In the research for my trip it was made clear that in C.A. corruption is pervasive, roads are unmarked and boarders, infuriating. As I travel the next 1000 miles or so through Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, your thoughts are appreciated. I hope to make it to Colon, Panama in under a week, allowing plenty of time for the search of a boat which will take me around the Darien Gap to the shore of  Colombia. 

   FYI, the bat is a stick and the ball a sock. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The art of camping

Contrary to what I thought, camping in Mexico is challenging (there are more fences here than any other country I've been to, including Israel.) and one must be crafty in locating and using a campsite. In the end though there is nothing quite like luck when it comes to finding that pot of gold which keeps you dry during a torrential downpour. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

An Alternate route IV :There's Nothing Quite Like 4 Wheel drive

    There is a first time for everything, and being towed behind a Jeep that was slipping and sliding through what resembled marsh land was certainly a first for me.
     It may be a while before I post again.In the span of 20 minutes I managed to mangle the jack for my external mic and completely destroy the power cable for my laptop. This video finished loading just as the battery died.

      The ruins at Palenque are calling my name.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Farmers Show The Way

Though the rain makes viewing difficult, the interactions are great. What a terrific service I was paid in this wet and obscure part of Mexico.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

An alternate route part II : A wet and muddy affair

So here is a continuation of my plight to avoid the federali checkpoint. See if you can spot the melons. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

An alternate route

Sams Wholesale, part of the Cartel? Israel Gillette, a spy? Mexican flag sticker, idiot proof?

OK, for those of you following this, pay attention as future posts (they'll be fun) will build on information parlayed here.   @ FYI the white and green trucks, which were innumerable in town, are loaded with m16 toting police. All paid for courtesy of the US government. "Helping to add Police to every State". 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A truckload of illegals

    Though I was expressing concern in the video, this encounter proved quite innocuous. Only one of the workers spoke English (broken to say the least) but it was apparent he didn't care that I was there. Rather, he asked about my trip with a smile.  After packing up camp the boss arrived (almost an hour after the Mexicans) and was more pointed in his inquiry as to how I got in. I apologized and quickly departed just in time to pass the game warden who was making his way into the job site. Too late copper, too late!
    I find it humorous that the state park was essentially employing illegals to do their construction work. I certainly don't mind, it simply goes to illustrate the fact that politicians are full of $h!t. Their attempts at immigration reform do nothing to prevent employers (in this case the state) from utilizing cheap labor but only attack our already diminished, if not non-existent, civil liberties.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Skinny, Tim and a 200 mile subsidy.

What a great fuel/repair stop. I made a new friend and was rewarded for doing so. 

My next post will be made from Mexico.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A sticky night in Mississippi

Last night I set camp around 11:30pm on a warm and humid night in Mississippi while yearning for the uncertainty that lies ahead. Though many feel the risks too great, I know the only true loss would arise from my failure to embark into the unknown. Whether the adversity be banditos, sickness, poverty, or the serpent (which I have an overwhelming, if irrational, fear) I will persevere where others fear to tread and in doing so prove that freedom dwarfs safety in it's remuneration of the soul.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Struggling With Life

    I look around as my trip nears and wonder what it is that I'm risking. In many respects I am a very lucky guy, but what sort of future do I really have here? For example.....
May 27, 2011

Dear Scholar:

Each semester, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga recognizes those students who have achieved excellence in their educational programs.  Your commitment to learning, as shown by an exemplary grade point average, has earned you a place on the Dean’s List for Spring 2011. 

Please accept my congratulations on receiving this high honor from the University.  I look forward to your continued success at UTC. 

Description: Description: Dean's Signature

Herbert Burhenn
Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences
Dear Student:
The UTC Financial Aid Office regrets to inform you that you have not met Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards, effective with Spring 2011 semester grades.
Federal and state regulations require students to meet Financial Aid SAP standards; students not meeting these standards are ineligible for federal and state financial aid.
       Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards require students to:
 1) maintain a course completion rate of 67%.  Students must pass a cumulative 67% of all credit hours attempted;
2) maintain a 2.0 cumulative overall GPA; and
 3) complete degree requirements within 150% of attempted hours required in the program of study.
       For more details please review the standards at

The reason you are not currently making Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress status may be reviewed on your MyMocsNet account. From the Money Tab choose My Financial Aid Eligibility, then Academic Progress.

       You may appeal your Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress status by completing the appeal process: .

 And here is the request for additional appeal paperwork and the requisite appeal letter


I am writing in regards to the Satisfactory Academic Progress appeal you recently submitted to the Financial Aid Office. We did not get a letter of rationale in your appeal. You will need to write a letter stating why your Course Completion Rate (CCR) is 66%, the minimum requirement is 67%. We get your CCR by dividing the number of passed hours you have by the number of attempted hours you have.

Reasons can range from having a significant amount of Withdrawals or a semester of two where you did not make passing grades. You will need to explain in your letter why your CCR is below the minimum requirement.

I will defer making a decision on your appeal until you get that information to me. However, please be advised that waiting to submit that letter could prolong your financial aid, if approved.

Please let me know if you have any questions.


Kerri Kocincki
Financial Aid Counselor
Office of Financial Aid, Dept. 4805
University of Tennessee- Chattanooga
615 McCallie Avenue
Chattanooga, TN 37403

     When I was called by an agency, under the employ of the federal government, and informed that my defaulted loans (which resulted due to problems at ETSU after a semester of straight A's) could be rehabilitated if I simply filled out the paperwork, I took the opportunity. This was a result of changes within the department of education following the election of Obama. So for the short term I enrolled in a community college here in East Tennessee while I sent my transfer info from ETSU to UTC. Since returning to school, (at the prodding of the government), my completion rate has been in excess of 80% (at UTC it is 90%).

   When I received that call from the department of education my completion rate was nowhere near 67%( because of dropped or failed classes), why was this not of concern then? I find this ambivalence unsettling, especially since I just achieved a 4.0 in a competitive area of study this spring at UTC. What exactly does the government want?
   When UTC accepted me back in the fall, on the first day of classes, I didn't have money for the move so I lived in a parking lot, sandwiched between Jewish and Confederate cemeteries, without power or running water. Though I missed two weeks of classes before I began I still managed to scrape by. I dropped one class but still finished fall with 12 hrs and a 3.25.

  FYI. I have a certified learning disability, Disorder of Written Expression. Writing (and school) is something which is done with a great deal of difficulty. However, when I have the drive I can make a compelling argument. So Kerri, will I be allowed to finish these next two semesters at UTC and take my arguments to law school or will I be forced to drop out of school and take them to the Chattanooga Times?
Thank You,
Israel Eugene Gillette

I'd rather deal with a rabid cartel goon than a bureaucrat any day of the week. Latin America, here I come!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A week out

My supplies continue to arrive and I am ready to depart, however, my finances are looking to be a bit slim. It looks as if I will be consuming lots of rice and beans while south of the border.