Recently by Steve Wilson:

When I started walking the 450 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles, I wanted to hear birds and waves and let my mind wander towards contemplations of life and philosophy and the divine. That was what I hoped for. My brain, however, had its own agenda.

 

The trip began pleasantly enough on a clear and cool October morning, following paths and small roads that hugged the crenulations of the northern California coast. In those first few days everything was novel: I felt the weight of the backpack, enjoyed the breeze coming off the coast, smelled the salt air.

That first night out I met a middle-aged man named Gary who was riding his bicycle down the coast. He was overweight and out of shape and had to push his bike up hills, so for a few days… More…

When I was 14 I wanted to be a private investigator. I had watched television shows about them — Simon & Simon; Rockford Magnum, P.I. — and it was clear from my research that this was an exciting job with shootouts, fistfights, sexy women, and fast cars. The P.I.s on television weren’t like the adults I knew: They were sardonic; they charmed information out of people; they picked locks. P.I.s were on the right side of the law, but just barely.

After graduating high school my P.I. fantasy was replaced with others, and more than 20 years passed before an attorney friend of mine asked me to do some criminal defense investigation work for him. Suddenly I had a new job. One day I was the facilities manager at a small acupuncture college; the next I was a licensed investigator with several incarcerated clients to interview.

My new job quickly… More…

Tonight, as he does almost every night, Roberto Corroy leaves his house in the Barrio de los Mexicanos and walks through the curving streets of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, his jacket zipped up to his neck, his hands stuffed into his pockets, and his guitar tucked under an arm. His thin-soled shoes slap the cobbles in hard, sharp smacks. The walk takes about 30 minutes. Roberto rarely speaks to anyone as he walks; instead, he occupies himself with worries about money and the future.

It is late enough that the windows of most houses are unlit, but not so late that the busier streets are not still busy. Bars and clubs are brightly lit and loud. Reaching the center of town, Roberto crosses the zocalo, the benches still harboring a few tourists despite the ear-chilling breeze, and mounts… More…