The Gringo Trail

By Dave Oswald Mitchell

November 2006

(sung to the tune of Paul Simon’s “Graceland”)

My skin in Nicaragua

was burning like a Sandinista star

I am travelling by school bus

to Honduras

through the wreckage of the Contra War.

I’m on the gringo trail

gringo trail

the spine of the PPP*

I’m on the gringo trail

Drifters with trust funds and pony tails

and we are on the gringo trail

My travelling companion’s from Ohio

she’s exchanging dollars at the border

but I have reason to believe

that she is being deceived

by the money trader

She comes back to tell me she’s broke

as if I didn’t know that

as if I didn’t watch her spend it

as if I never noticed

the way she bought up all the souvenirs at the tourist market

And she said, “solo travel

is like playing monopoly alone

and you’re the first guy I’ve seen since I left Leon”

She doesn’t count the Latinos

I’m on the gringo trail

spine of the PPP

I’m on the gringo trail

Drifters with trust funds and pony tails

and we are on the gringo trail

And our travelling companions

are coyotes and pickpockets

(they’re looking at easy pickings)

Yes, I have reason to believe

my valuables may be relieved

on the gringo trail

There’s a girl in Guatemala City

who calls herself Ovaries of Steel

and last week tossed and battered

in the surf of Monterrico I said,

Whoa, maybe this is how it feels

to be a gringa on the gringo trail

And I see that tourism

sometimes brings out our worst

every prejudice is reinforced

every selfish fear grows

On the gringo trail, the gringo trail

I’m on the gringo trail

For reasons that leave me ashamed

I can’t seem to escape from the gringo trail

And I’ll be obliged to repay

all that cash I threw away

in every Internet cafe, now,

And maybe I’ve a reason to believe

there must be better ways to see

Latin America

Dave Oswald Mitchell travelled overland from Costa Rica to Canada in early 2004.


Note: the PPP, or Plan Puebla Panama, is the neo-liberal ‘development’ plan for Central America currently in construction. The PPP will bankrupt participating governments with the exorbitant costs of constructing superhighways and linking electric grids and (foreign-owned) tourism super-projects so as to facilitate the extraction of resources and the exploitation of impoverished southerners by transnational corporations.

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