EXT. MEXICAN HIGHWAY 15 - DAY - SEPTEMBER 1995
Ripples of heat mirage rise off a long, straight, empty road.
Roaring through the silence, a dusty, white, Ford van rockets down the highway. On its roof, a blue tarp covering a large roof rack vibrates in the wind.
The van races toward the hills in the distance, getting smaller and smaller as dust clouds obscure it from sight.
INT. VAN - SAME
The Stones play loud on the stereo. Driving the empty passenger van is a tanned, sandy haired, ruggedly handsome twenty-five year old, DYLAN.
He pushes his sunglasses up on his head and stares out at the Sierra Madre mountains glowing pink in the distance.
Taking the old Minolta XG-1 laying in the passenger seat, he steadies it against the side of his face, sneaks a look through the lens while driving, takes his hand off of the wheel to focus, then clicks the shutter.
EXT. MEXICAN HIGHWAY 15 - LATER
The van streaks past a lone roadside shrine to the Virgin de Guadalupe; pieces of fabric tied to a cross flutter in the wind.
On the side of the road a sign reads: "Guadalajara - 20km"
INT. VAN - LATER
Dylan shuffles through a small metal box on the van's console, pulling out two fifty-peso notes as he drives.
EXT. GUADALAJARA - SAME
The ring road on the edge of Guadalajara is busy with traffic. Cars surge in a seething third-world mass.
The van cuts across two lanes and pulls into a Pemex station.
EXT. PEMEX STATION - A FEW MINUTES LATER
Stopped at the pump, Dylan fills the van with gas.
Three small MEXICAN KIDS play chase around the beat-up, grimy pumps of the station.
INT. PEMEX STATION - MINUTES LATER
At the Latatel pay phone inside, Dylan leans against the wall and runs his free hand, exasperated, through his hair. NICK, in his forties, is on the other end of the line.
I'll be there in two days, Nick... I really need a day off.
` NICK (O.S.)
Listen, there's a problem I was hoping you'd help with. We have a van
leaving Sunday morning and Skip is sick.
That means I'd have to be there by tomorrow night.
While he talks, he fishes around in his back pocket for something and pulls out a snapshot.
` NICK (O.S.)
You're going to Spain in November.
He turns the picture over in his hand. He and a beautiful blonde stare back, smiling from some tropical place.
That's not for two months. I don't know. I haven't had a day off in a while.
We really need you on this one, Dylan. You're the best.
Dylan looks out the window and takes a deep breath.
Outside, the kids are playing on the van's back ladder.
Alright. I'll do it, but this better be a good one.
Terrific. I knew you'd do it. Careful at the border, kid. See you tomorrow.
See you tomorrow, Nick.
He hangs up the phone.
EXT. PEMEX STATION - SAME
One of the Mexican Kids hangs on the back ladder, looking nervously toward the Cashier. From under the roof tarp another kid whispers sharply.
The kid quickly darts up the last rung of the ladder and disappears underneath the tarp, pulling a small duffle behind him.
INT. PEMEX STATION - SAME
The sweaty, unshaven CASHIER chuckles under his breath.
Quidas te tambien amigo.
A hot gush of air greets Dylan as he pushes through the swinging glass doors and strides outside.
EXT. PEMEX STATION - SAME
Walking toward the van, Dylan watches the kids readjust the tarp over their heads up on the roof rack.
He trots to the back ladder and bounds up.
Que honda, ninos?
Pulling the tarp back with a swift motion he reveals the frightened faces of three boys tucked in between big bags on the rack.
Yo no quiero pasajeros.
Dylan grabs the first kid, as the kid begins to protest, and pulls him to the ladder.
EXT. MEXICAN HIGHWAY 15 - THAT NIGHT
A massive canopy of stars stretches across the sky.
For a second, the van's headlights illuminate a road sign that reads, "Frontera Sonora 10km."
INT. VAN - MINUTES LATER
Dylan flips stations on the AM radio, passing one ranchero song after another.
Up ahead, cars and trucks wait in a long line of traffic in the dark as MEXICAN SOLDIERS with flashlights, rifles on their backs, wave the cars through the Sonora state border.
EXT. SONORA STATE CHECKPOINT - SAME
As Dylan's van rolls up between the barricades, two soldiers shine a light in his eyes and motion for him to pull over.
INT. VAN - SAME
Nervous, Dylan sifts quickly through his cash-box and pulls out all the pesos, shoving them in his pocket.
A uniformed FEDERALE with tinted sunglasses on approaches the driver's window in the darkness.
Buenas noches, Senor.
Buenas noches. Que paso?
The federale pokes his head in the window and looks at the big, empty van.
A donde eres?
Ahora, El Districto Federal.
Y, a donde vas?
Voy a regressar a California.
The federale steps back and points off the side of the road.
Pull over there.
Where he points there is a narrow six-foot deep trench surrounded by lights on all sides. A group of federales and soldiers direct Dylan to park straddling the pit.
From a small building nearby, another federale, the JEFE, walks out, and heads straight to Dylan.
The Jefe smiles, showing off several gold-capped teeth under a thick mustache as he looks in the van's window.
This is a big van to be driving north all by yourself, gringo.
EXT. SEARCH STATION - MINUTES LATER
Dylan stands on the pavement with two armed soldiers flanking him.
All the van's doors are open. Two federales climb through the body with flashlights, poking the upholstery and looking under the seats. One of them finds something.
He holds up a machete in a decorated leather sheath.
The Jefe raises an eyebrow at Dylan.
A Federale climbs down into the trench under the van with a mirror attached to a stick. He begins to inspect the undercarriage.
The Jefe reaches in the driver's side and pops the hood.
We will find your drugs, gringo. We will go easier on you if you
just tell us now where you hid them.
Another federale unscrews the gas-cap, takes a long rod, inserts it all the way in, and fishes around the tank.
EXT. SEARCH STATION - MINUTES LATER
Dylan's van is crawling with Mexican federal officials. One is up on the roof taking a tent out of a big bag and unrolling it, checking the seams for lumps.
From under the van, a Federale begins to shout.
Cocaina! Cocaina! Una bolsita de cocaina!
The Jefe whirls on Dylan.
We have you, gringo.
Holding a wagging finger in Dylan's face, the Jefe smiles.
-Don't you talk back to me you little huerro fuck.
We have your cocaine now.
The Federale scampers up behind the Jefe, holding a small package wrapped up with duct tape.
Behind the Jefe, the Federale begins to cut apart the duct tape covering the small package.
We're going to take your van apart, piece by piece,
until we find the rest of your cocaine, gringo...
Tell us where the rest is, and we won't destroy it completely.
Dylan watches intently over the Jefe's shoulder.
There is no cocaine.
You listen to me, gringo. We look for people like you all day...
I'm not a drugista.
The soldier has finished cutting apart the tape, and he hands a small, black metal box to the Jefe. He takes it and holds it under Dylan's nose as the soldiers nearby shine their flashlights for him to see.
What do you say now, huerro?
Dylan just stares at him levelly.
The black metal box says "Hide-a-key" on it in white.
The Jefe cups his hand under the box to catch the contents and slides the lid slowly backwards...
A Ford key drops into his palm.
Behind him, the other federales and soldiers laugh.
Shut the fuck up!
He throws the key down and storms off, whirling around on Dylan and pointing to the van.
You, wait in there.
INT. VAN - AN HOUR LATER
Dylan shifts uncomfortably in his seat, sneaking a look across the dark, dusty midnight search facility.
A group of soldiers stand in front of the Jefe's office; obviously talking about him. They point and laugh.
One young SOLDIER walks over and opens the passenger door.
Dylan slumps over the wheel in exasperation as the soldier begins to sift through the tapes on the console.
Que musica es este? It's good?
Yeah, it's good... take it.
The other soldiers at the trench approach the van to see what is happening. Dylan sees them and motions them to the passenger side.
You guys, too. Come look through these.
They begin to shuffle through the box, a SECOND SOLDIER dumping it out on the passenger seat.
The soldier begins to take tapes and hand them back to the others behind him.
SECOND SOLDIER (cont'd)
Que es "Mix"?
From behind the soldiers, the Jefe pushes through. He looks casually around the van, then eyes Dylan.
I don't like looking like a fuck head.
He picks up Dylan's machete from where it's sitting on the seat under the tapes and CDs.
I could keep you here a long time while we tear your van up, gringo.
Dylan lets out the breath he's been holding, and lowers his head to rest it on the steering wheel.
But... this sure is a nice machete.
The Jefe picks it up and rests it on his shoulder thoughtfully.
In that case... you'd better get out of here while you have a chance...
Enjoy the rest of your trip in Mexico.
INT. VAN - SUNRISE
The Stones again jam from the CD system as Dylan watches a sad Mexican shanty town fly by outside the window.
He looks on the passenger seat and on the floor at the tapes and CDs scattered around by the federales. One CD catches his attention and he picks it up, curious as he drives, taking it out of its case.
Its a CD-R. On the label is written in bubbly girl-writing, "Dylan, listen to this when I'm gone."
He studies it a beat, shrugs, ejects the Stones, and pops it in. A GIRL'S VOICE begins to speak carefully:
GIRL'S VOICE (V.O.)
Dylan... I can't tell you this to your face, so I made this disc.
During our time together I felt like a princess. You swept me out
of my boring life and into your adventure...
Dylan turns the volume up a little.
GIRL'S VOICE (cont'd)
...You made me see the world in a new light, from an angle I had
only dreamed of before. Then, one day I realized that there must
be a girl like me on every trip. I've become a stronger person,
and I can't sit still and wait for you to arrive at the end of the
trek season. Now that I realize the meaning my life can have...
He fumbles around desperately and reaches to shut it off, but he stops.
GIRL'S VOICE (cont'd)
I can't meet you in Spain in November. If you truly love me like
you said, then I know you will understand.
He hits the steering wheel in frustration.
GIRL'S VOICE (cont'd)
Thank you for showing me the way to myself. Good-bye, Dylan.
Dylan punches at the stereo, and the CD slowly ejects.
He holds it in his hand and considers tossing it out the window into the pink desert morning, but doesn't.
EXT. VAN - LATER
Mexican Highway 15 is straight as an arrow. Dylan's van flies along in the sweltering heat of the day.
INT. VAN - U.S. BORDER - LATER
Dylan pulls the van between two guard kiosks and stops at the yellow line.
A U.S. BORDER PATROL looks the van over as he approaches the window.
Welcome to the U.S. Passport and vehicle registration please.
Dylan hands his passport and other papers out the window.
You don't know how glad I am to see you guys.
The Border Patrol frowns and looks over the papers.
You've been in Mexico for four months?
A little more than four months.
He looks up at the roof rack.
BORDER PATROL (cont'd)
What was the purpose of your visit?
The Border Patrol hands the papers back to Dylan and steps back, waving him on.
EXT. HIGHWAY 8, ARIZONA - NIGHT
The van glides through the darkness of the Arizona desert, headlights making arcs on the pavement.
INT. VAN, LOS ANGELES - NIGHT
The dust caked van flies on an LA freeway. Streaks of light fly past as downtown looms in the distance.
INT. LAX HOTEL ROOM - MORNING
Sprawled on a hotel bed, Dylan sleeps soundly, the sheets thrown to the side, thick curtains drawn against the day, bright light forcing its way in along the edges.
INT. HOTEL LOUNGE - LATER
Elevator doors open on the hotel lounge, and Dylan steps out.
Sitting alone, knitting with black yarn, in a group of couches in the middle of the empty room is a tall, wiry girl in a huge black sweater, JAN. She has unruly hair, thick glasses, and she smiles strangely as she knits.
Dylan shakes his head slightly and walks to the couch she's sitting on.
Are you waiting for the trek group?
She looks at the floor, puts down her knitting, and nervously plays with the rings on her fingers. She speaks in a thick Australian accent.
Yes, I am.
He holds out his hand to her.
I'm Dylan; I'm going to be your trek guide.
Nice to meet you. Most of the group is usually late.
I've always been early.
She smiles at nothing, then looks Dylan right in the eye.
It must be very romantic... Traveling all the time.
INT. HOTEL RESTAURANT - A LITTLE LATER
Silverware clinks in a crowded restaurant. A group of six: four girls, one nicely dressed guy and Dylan now sit around a corner table. Each has a sheet of paper and a drink in front of them.
You can see from the itinerary that there will be a few long drive days.
Next to Jan, DOLF, a serious looking Nederlander about twenty-five, points to a line on the paper.
Where do we sleep in Bryce Canyon?
It's really beautiful; set up in the high bristlecone pines, outside the park entrance is a tiny campground...
AUKE, a beautiful young Swiss girl, about twenty-two almost spits her drink on the table, then chokes.
Dylan looks at her panicked expression.
We camp. It's the best...
--My travel agent didn't say anything about camping.
The group around the table chuckles.
Well, this will be an interesting trip then.
Three more people arrive at the table led by the hostess.
Are you looking for the Great Western trip?
One of them, DONNA, an outdoorsy New Zealander, steps up and offers Dylan her hand.
Yes, I'm Donna.
Dylan gets up and hands her an itinerary.
I'm Dylan. This is Jan, Dolf, Auke, Jo, Kim and Jackie. Please, sit down.
With Donna is a young, handsome, curly-blonde Brazilian, PABLO, and a shy looking Japanese girl, AKIKO, who peers at everyone wide-eyed and a little afraid.
This is Akiko; I think she's from Japan. She doesn't seem to speak any English.
Dylan looks down at his passenger list.
You must be Pablo.
Pablo looks surprised, then notices Dylan's list.
Yeah, I'm Pablo.
Nice to have you. I don't get many Brazilians on these trips.
JO, a pretty, fair English girl, smiles at Dylan.
Are you named after Bob Dylan?
Actually, I'm named after a dog that my father had in college... ran away.
JACKIE, a tough looking Australian girl and KIM, a petite red-head, round out the group. They sit at the end of the table, arms around each other.
That's so sad.
The COCKTAIL WAITRESS comes by for their drink orders.
You know what you want yet?
It's on the company.
Pablo lounges back in his chair.
A scotch on the rocks. Do you have Glenfiddich?
Dylan raises his eyebrows.
Yes. And you?
Pint of Guiness would be nice thanks.
Dylan looks around the table and clears his throat.
Well, we're still missing two, but I'd like to go around the table to find out why each person has booked the trip. What do you hope to get out of it?
He looks at the passengers, waiting.
Why don't you start, uh... Kim.
Kim looks a little nervous, but squeezes Jackie's hand and starts talking in her Australian drawl.
Right, well... for the last few months, Jackie and I have been having a lot of friction in our relationship. I hope that this trip helps bring a newness to our love life.
Jackie looks at her sweetly.
That was beautiful, lover.
They kiss as the group looks on surprised, and Jan gasps.
Pablo leans in close to Dylan.
Why is it all girls?
He gestures to the group as the girls all erupt laughing at something at the other end of the table.
You worried? There's a few cute ones.
Pablo looks around, confused. Across the table, Jo smiles doe-eyed as she is caught staring at him.
Dylan follows Pablo's gaze and nods.
There are two things I say to that Pablo. One, is that girls are less likely to be comfortable traveling alone; the group makes them feel safe... Two is... don't look a gift horse in the mouth.
What does that mean?
It's an American expression. It means that when you are given a free horse, you don't check its teeth.
EXT. HOTEL DRIVEWAY - MORNING
Dylan stands in bright morning light on the roof-rack of the van, parked in the circular driveway of the hotel. Dolf is halfway up the ladder in back and hands luggage up.
The big blue one next.
Dolf gets down and rummages in the pile of bags next to the van. He holds up a blue backpack.
No, the big one.
Dolf grabs the big suitcase and struggles to heft it up the first few rungs as Pablo steps in to help.
This is packed with stones.
Dylan addresses the group as he pulls it onto the roof.
Okay, whose bag is this?
Auke looks up sheepishly.
Should have known. How do you carry it?
Men offer to help me with it. It's a good way to meet people.
Dylan drags the bag into a spot on the side of the rack.
Behind Auke, a tall, blonde couple walk up with their backpacks on. The first one, HEINRICH, yells up to Dylan.
Is this the Trek trip?
Dylan smiles and crouches down to talk to them.
You must be the Germans.
The girl, HEIDI, has short blonde hair cut like Heinrich's.
We were delayed in Fort Worth, Texas, and our flight just arrived.
Welcome aboard. Dolf, hand me their's next, then throw the sleeping bags up.
Everyone lobs their sleeping bags at him as Dylan hold his arms up to protect himself.
INT. VAN - LATER
Dylan drives down Hollywood Boulevard as the passengers gawk out the windows at the freaky street scene.
The Chinese Theater was constructed in 1927 and immediately became the favorite place to hold big Hollywood premiers. The Academy Awards were hosted here all through the Forties.
Donna and Jo look out on the sidewalk, crawling with a fresh bus load of camera-toting Asian tourists.
How often do you see movie stars here?
All I see are tourists and homeless people.
Jan erupts in strange, choking laughter in the back seat.
You're laughing at the homeless?
Jan lies her head back on the seat, taking a deep breath.
Heavens no!... I just realized that no one knows where I am.
Not your family?
No one. I mailed my brother a postcard from the airport in Sydney, but there is no way it got there yet... What a strange feeling. Oooh, I wish I could see his face when he gets it.
Are you close?
No... he's a bit on the strange side.
Pablo and Jo share a sideways look as Jan chuckles.
EXT. PCH - LATER
The van drives north along the Pacific Coast Highway as the blue of Santa Monica Bay sparkles behind them.
EXT. BEACH, SANTA BARBARA - LATER
Kim and Jackie run down a golden sandy beach toward the water. They scream and begin to splash each other, kicking big fans of droplets into the air.
Donna spreads a towel on the sand and lies back, closing her eyes.
Pablo and Auke come up next to her, laughing, and throw down their towels.
This is more like it.
Look up the beach at the cave woman.
He points up the sand to where Jan is making her way, awkwardly on her spindly legs, knitting under her arm, and fully dressed in her heavy sweater, across the beach.
Shhh! That's mean, you guys.
She pushes herself up on one arm and looks.
She does look ridiculous though.
She would look worse in a bathing suit.
Maybe she is covering up some hideous deformity.
They both shoot Pablo dirty looks, then start to laugh.
EXT. LEO CARILLO CAMPGROUND - THAT NIGHT
Tall oaks edge the campsite, illuminated by the van's headlights. The group is busy setting up tents.
Auke stands in the glow of a lantern and takes tent poles out of a bag one at a time, dropping them on the ground, looking nervously out at the dark trees.
Are there animals out there?
Dylan crouches down next to her, ignoring her question, and picks up a set of poles.
Here, first, take these and slip them in this sleeve of the tent.
He works the poles together, then slides them through.
Then, put the end in the connector, hook the loop over, and do the same thing to the other side.
Auke frowns. She hands another set of poles to Dylan.
I don't get it. Show me again?
Dylan takes the poles as Dolf walks up behind them.
Dylan, where is your tent?
Dylan points to the van's roof rack.
I sleep on top of the van each night.
Seems safer up there.
They both look at her and shake their heads.
Animals can't get you.
EXT. CAMPGROUND - MIDNIGHT
Dylan closes the back door of the van, sleeping bag slung over a shoulder, and climbs the back ladder onto the roof.
He shakes the down-filled bag and lays it out, unzips it, and slips out of his jeans.
Out of the darkness, Pablo walks up to the side of the van. He holds a bottle in his hand.
To bed already?
Dylan sits on the roof and scans the sky.
I like to watch the stars.
Here, have a drink of this.
Pablo hands the bottle up to him.
Cachaca. It's Brazilian sugarcane rum.
Dylan takes a sip, then another, savoring it in his mouth.
I was feeling homesick. I brought it for the end of the trip...
... you only lasted two days?
Pablo takes a drink and smiles at the flavor.
I've been away for six months.
Pablo walks unsteadily away into the dark oaks.
I'm going to take a walk.
Dylan listens to him walk away, folds his arms behind his head, breathes deep the thick sea air and watches the stars.
EXT. NEAR CANBERRA, THE AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK - DAY
Subtitle: Australia - Near Canberra
In a red and dusty expanse, a small farmhouse bakes in the sun. An ostrich struts familiarly past the fence, leaning down to graze on the weeds by the postbox.
A stocky, tan kid about nineteen comes out of the house and makes his way down the drive. He's got an iguana perched on one shoulder and spiky black hair.
He stops at the box, and shuffles through the small pile of mail till he comes to a postcard. He reads it intently then turns, panicked, towards the house. This is THAD, Jan's younger brother.
Dad!... Jan is in California!
EXT. SUMMER SOLSTICE PARADE, SANTA BARBARA - NEXT DAY
Brightly colored people and floats parade through downtown Santa Barbara to the rhythms of drums.
A woman in high heels and painted red from head to toe is dressed as a Devil and leads a man in a business suit by a leash down the middle of State St.
Dylan and Auke dodge people dressed in strange costumes as they make their way through the crowd.
What did they say to you?
They asked me what they were supposed to do here. As if this is boring.
Germans are almost always annoying... Oooh look...
Swooping by her, a group of college students dressed as Monarch butterflies spin and dance through the crowd.
Auke smiles in bewilderment, trying to drink in the whole experience at once.
This is like Carnival!
Pulling her through the swarm of people, Dylan dodges a clown on stilts.
This is our Carnival. This is the Summer Solstice Parade.
Yes, today's the longest day of the year.
A pregnant woman painted blue, white and green like the Earth stops in front of them and waves a driftwood wand at Auke before running on leaving Auke shocked.
I hope that wasn't a fertility spell.
Dylan puts his hands on her shoulders.
Maybe it was a spell of enchantment.
Like I fall in love with the first person I see?
She spins around with her eyes closed. Then opens them, staring at Dylan.
Nope, didn't work.
INT. VAN - LATER
Dolf has his nose pressed up against the glass, watching green hills dotted with cows outside Buellton roll past.
I always thought that California all looked like Los Angeles... or Disneyland.
Next to him, Donna gazes out at the same scene.
You sound disappointed.
Dolf ponders this as California oaks rush by.
It's just that before it seemed so super-real. Like a dream... This just looks like... northern Spain, or... like parts of France...
EXT. CAMPFIRE - NIGHT
A huge campfire burns, sending an orange glow dancing across the faces of the group seated around it.
Dylan sits playing guitar on his camp chair.
Kim and Jackie lean against a big log, listening intently. Jan is knitting.
Pablo holds a cut lime and a box of sugar; demonstrating.
To make a Caipirina: First, you crush and mash the lime with a wooden spoon.
He mushes the lime in to a mug.
Then add a tablespoon sugar, and a handful of ice.
He dumps these in too.
Then a shot of Cachaca is poured over the top, and you have a Caipirinha.
Pablo carries the finished drink ceremoniously over to Jo, and she tries it. She leans close to him.
What do you call this stuff?
The fire pops and emits a shower of embers. Jan gets up unsteadily, and walks around it to Dylan.
I made this for you, Dylan.
She holds out her knitting. Dylan looks confused for a second, then takes it and holds it up. It's a sweater.
Wow... Jan, I'm... Thank you. It's beautiful... you did that so fast.
I brought the yarn from Canberra.
Dylan holds it up for the group to see.
So that's what you've been doing. Will you make me one?
EXT. CAMPGROUND - LATER
Dylan, wearing Jan's sweater, his sleeping bag thrown over one shoulder, stands with Auke at the back of the van in the dark. Behind them, the campfire burns low.
I'm glad you're on the trip, Auke. See, camping isn't so bad.
I'm glad, too.
He turns to climb the ladder, then pauses when Auke doesn't move. He looks quickly around the campground.
Auke? Where's your tent?
I didn't put one up. I don't like sleeping in the tent.
Where are you going to sleep?... I guess you can sleep in the van.
She takes a step closer to him and runs her hands over his down filled bag.
I want to watch the stars.
EXT. BIG SUR HWY - MORNING
The white van crosses the majestic arched bridge over Alder Creek south of Big Sur on the winding California Hwy 1.
INT. VAN - SAME
In the back of the van, Dolf and Jan sleep, unconsciously resting on each other.
Jo leans between the front seats talking.
I am really disappointed with the American beaches.
Hey, come on. We have some of the best beaches in the world.
Have you ever been to the Mediterranean? All you uptight Americans don't even get naked at the beach.
Pablo leans forward on the seat, interested.
Why is that Dylan?
Well, I cant really say why...
I think it's the American version of the big-breasted-ideal-woman that makes women in America ashamed to show their own tits in public.
I'm not ashamed of my breasts.
They all look at her.
KIM, JACKIE AND JO
I'm not ashamed of mine either Auke, but no one goes topless here.
Dylan smiles at the thought.
It's illegal. That's one good reason. It's against the law.
Jackie looks surprised. Jo looks to Dylan for assurance.
I'm not kidding. You can be arrested for taking your top off at the beach.
Can't smoke marijuana, and you can be arrested for being topless... some land of the free...
She takes her top off with a smooth motion.
Men shouldn't be the only ones who get to feel the air on their chest.
Dylan tries to concentrate on the road.
You mean I can be arrested for this?
She has the buttons undone quickly and peels her top off, undoing her bra.
Technically, it is illegal.
What about you, Pablo?
Jo and Auke give each other five as Jackie looks slack jawed.
Why are all the men still dressed?
Pablo strips off his shirt and throws it at Auke.
Dylan turns the music up and rolls the window down, releasing gusts of air into the car.
A Lincoln rolls past them doing just over seventy. The man driving looks at the van like nothing is out of the ordinary.
Hey! We love America!
Pablo leans back in his seat and smiles from ear to ear. Dylan doesn't take his eyes off the road but just nods.
You are doing a wonderful job, Dylan.
EXT. HWY 1 - LATER
Snaking through the redwoods, the trek van passes the Nepenthe cafe in Big Sur and heads downhill.
INT. VAN - SAME
Dylan drives through the Pheiffer State Park entrance.
Tens of thousands of years ago, the giant redwoods used to cover most of northern and central California, but now just pockets are left.
The Germans have their guide book out, shaking their heads.
How many years?
(looking in the rear-view)
Sometime before the last ice age.
You are not a very good tour guide.
In the back of the van, Akiko is plastered up against the window, taking pictures, while Kim and Jackie kiss.
Do we have to watch this?
Kim breaks away, noticing half the van is staring at them.
You don't have to watch.
They go back to kissing.
EXT. HIKING TRAIL - LATER
Donna and Jackie walk together, looking upward toward the tops of the California redwoods along the trail.
I can't believe I'm really here.
Donna puts her arm around her.
Too bad you're not single, Jackie. I've always kind of wondered.
Pablo holds Jo's hand and runs with her down the trail towards Donna and Jackie grabbing their hands and pulling them up to a huge redwood in front of them.
Let's see if we can all hold hands around her.
Auke grabs Jo's hand on the other side.
I don't think we'll reach...
She spins around backwards, stretches out her arms and presses up against the thick, spongy bark of the trunk.
Okay, I have Jo and Donna. Donna who do you have?
I've got Dylan.
I've got Jackie...
I can't reach any further...
Auke, who do you have?
I've got Akiko and Jan.
I've got Kim.
I've reached as far as I can, but I can't reach Jackie.
Dylan laughs and stretches out as far as he can.
How is this for surreal, Dolf?
You mean we have ten here, and we can't reach? Someone get a picture.
INT. TENT - THAT NIGHT
Jo lounges back in her sleeping bag and stares devilishly at Pablo while he slips his shirt over his head.
I was wondering how long it would take to get you in my tent.
He starts to take off his shoes, then stops, staring at Jo.
What is this look in your eye?
I always thought that nice English girls couldn't say things like that.
She sits up, still looking at him.
Well, we can.
She kisses him.
EXT. CAMPGROUND - MORNING
The silver morning light filters through the tall branches. Auke and Dylan are on the roof of the van just waking up.
I love sleeping up here.
In the group of green tents in the campsite there is motion. One of the tents zips open, and Donna creeps out.
You get to see who slept with who.
Donna turns and leans back in as Kim's head emerges. She gives her a quick kiss, and sneaks toward her own tent.
Kim starts to get up out of the tent too, but Jackie's hand grabs her as she stands and pulls her back in.
INT. VAN, GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE - LATER
The passengers all lean up against the windows, gawking upwards as they drive over San Francisco Bay.
Pablo hangs out the window, pointing his camera toward the top of the bridge, as Dylan drives.
EXT. UNION SQUARE - LATER
Union Square, in the center of downtown San Francisco, bustles with afternoon shoppers filling the sidewalks.
The Van pulls off the jammed street under a marquee that reads "California Hotel."
INT. HOTEL ROOM - LATER
Dylan sits, talking to Nick on the phone in a high-rise hotel room. He looks out the window at the city's skyline.
What do you mean? You changed your mind? You're not going to Spain?
Yeah, it's a long story Nick. Anyway, things are going smooth on this one.
So, you're staying on for the winter?
I think I'm in for the long haul. I'm a trek guide.
The shower goes on in the bathroom and Dylan looks up, startled, and covers the phone with his hand.
Who is that?
From the bathroom comes Auke's voice.
It's just me.
Dylan gets back on the phone.
Nick, I need go. I'll call you back.
He hangs up the receiver before Nick can reply, and walks to the open bathroom door.
How did you get in here?
I asked the front desk for the key. Could you hand me the shampoo?
Dylan shakes his head, and hands it to her.
There's always a way if you know how to ask.
He turns to go back into the room, then hesitates.
Is there room for me in there?
The shower door slides seductively open.
Now you're getting it. Come on in.
Dylan slips his shorts off and pulls his shirt quickly over his head, stepping into the shower.
The water sprays down over Auke's head, her eyes closed as she rinses the last of the shampoo out of her hair.
Let me get some of that water.
She opens up her arms and he steps into the water with her.
So, where to tonight... tour guide?
EXT. SAN FRANCISCO - NIGHT
The group stands on the corner of Columbus and Grant in North Beach. Neon signs and traffic light up the night.
North Beach. This is where the beat generation hung out in dozens of small cafes and run-down bars.
It looks like this is where all the hookers and strippers hang out.
It reminds me of Brighton.
The light turns green, and the group crosses.
It looks like Atlantic City.
Dylan walks next to her as they turn toward downtown.
When were you in New Jersey?
I was an au-pair all summer.
Yes, really. For a little, three-year-old boy. That's how I came on this trip. Au-pair America gives away tours as part of the program.
Dylan checks to see that no one is listening.
So, am I sleeping with the baby-sitter?
I'm not your baby-sitter.
Thank god... What was his name?
James. His picture's in my locket.
Do you miss him?
She smiles to herself, then puts her arm around Dylan.
All the time.
They approach a corner and Dylan looks up at the light.
Let's go left up here.
Auke walks through two parked cars and starts to head across the street, away from him.
Where are you going?
She stops mid-stride.
Oops. Didn't you say left?
Yeah, your other left.
She walks back toward him, giggling.
I get them confused sometimes.
She starts laughing and Dylan puts his arm around her, pulling her down the street with the group strung behind.
INT. SAM WOO'S RESTAURANT - LATER
Sam Woo's bustles with people coming up the stairs as a server takes food out of the dumb-waiter.
Pablo comes up the stairs and heads to the group's table.
What'd you get?
He holds up a paper bag and pulls out a case of beer.
Mexican beer for Chinese food.
At the table, Jackie peers at Jan's necklace, holding it out from her neck in the light as Jan sits ridged.
It's my mother's wedding ring.
I like how you wear it. I'm not much for wedding bands, like a symbol of ownership.
I inherited it when she died.
Oh... I'm sorry.
There's nothing you could have done... I wear it on this chain because it won't stay on my skinny fingers.
EXT. DOWNTOWN SAN FRANCISCO - LATE NIGHT
Walking alone in deserted Union Square together, Dylan and Auke look up toward the top of the skyline.
America is too big.
You wouldn't want to live here?
In San Francisco? No.
She reaches out and takes hold of his hand.
It's a good place to visit. Have you ever been to Switzerland?
No. I was in Europe a couple years ago. Didn't make it to Switzerland.
We're a little isolated.
A drunk stumbles past them, tripping into the street.
What will you do, Dylan? Are you a trek guide for life?
Dylan stops and touches her face. Searching her eyes.
Is there more?
EXT. BAY BRIDGE - MORNING
The sun rises through the thin fog above the Bay Bridge. The Trek van races out of town on the lower level.
INT. VAN - SAME
Jan leans against the window, her eyes shut.
Didn't this bridge fall over several years ago?
No, just a piece fell off... That's why I'm driving fast.
He peers in the rear-view.
You okay, Jan?
Jan shakes her head softly, her eyes still closed.
I'm just tired from all that walking last night.
Well, hang in there. You can sleep all the way to Yosemite.
EXT. GOLD COUNTRY - LATER
Undulating hills covered with gold grass hide the van momentarily as it snakes east.
EXT. MARIPOSA, CA - LATER
The van rolls through Mariposa, a small, sleepy town surrounded by National Forest.
EXT. YOSEMITE VALLEY OVERLOOK - SAME
The trek van pulls to a stop at a circular overlook point.
Getting out, the group gawks at the awe-inspiring view over the sloping treetops to the notched valley ahead.
Welcome to the Sierra.
Ahead, in the valley, tendrils of the Yosemite and Mist Falls reach down, blowing over the valley floor.
Jan is transfixed.
It's really the most beautiful place I've ever seen.
She moves to sit on a small rock wall and stumbles.
I'm right, Dylan... just a little overcome with the sight of so much beauty all at once.
Dylan walks over and sits next to her.
This is what I've always pictured Heaven looking like.
What part of Australia are you from, Jan? I know that Kim and Jackie are from Sydney, but I don't think you've ever said.
Jan shakes herself out of her reverie, still unable to take her eyes off the valley.
Well, it's quite a ways from Sydney. In fact, I've never been to the coast of Oz... I'm from a small town in the outback near Canberra.
Jo comes over with her camera.
Move closer, you.
Dylan scoots next to Jan and puts his arm around her. She stiffens uncomfortably, but smiles.
So, what do you do in the outback?
Jo snaps the picture.
We raise sheep.
EXT. YOSEMITE, STONYMEN MEADOW - LATER
The group is spread out, lounging in a meadow just off the entrance road; the van in the distance behind them.
Auke lies with her head on Dylan's stomach as they both gaze up toward the rim of the valley.
It seems so close. I could just reach out and touch the edge.
Donna walks slowly along the meadow's edge, brushing the tops of the meadow grass with her hand, when she freezes.
(in a low voice)
Hey... guys... look...
Jo rolls over in the grass and pushes to her knees to look.
On the edge of the meadow, just in front of Donna, a doe and her fawn timidly stare at the group with huge eyes.
She steps forward carefully, hands out, showing her palms.
They're not afraid of you.
Dolf has come up and stands in the grass next to her.
They know they are protected here.
Auke rolls over on top of Dylan and looks into his eyes.
It is beautiful here.
You'd better have a look. They won't hang around long with all these people.
She doesn't move.
I'd rather look at you.
INT. PAY-PHONE - LATER
In the visitor's center gift shop Dylan sits on the floor beneath a pay phone, twirling the cord in his fingers as Nick's voice crackles over the valley's old phone lines.
The trip sounds like it's going well.
Best one yet.
Best one? After three years of trekking? Pretty easy coming back to the States after doing Mexico for so long isn't it?
Not listening, Dylan watches two kids playing chase through the aisles and under the clothes racks of the gift shop.
So, Nick, how long have we been doing the Au-pair America thing?
This is the first year. Why?
Nothing... it's a good program...
You're so full of shit! I'll talk to you in a few days.
He reaches and hangs up the phone.
EXT. CALIFORNIA HOTEL, SAN FRANCISCO - SAME
A yellow cab pulls up in front of the group's hotel in the city, and the door swings wide over the sidewalk.
First one dusty hightop sneaker, then the other as Thad, Jan's brother, steps out on the San Francisco curb.
He shoulders his equally dusty rucksack. Holding Jan's postcard in his hand, he reads, then looks up.
The California Hotel.
EXT. CAMPFIRE - NIGHT
Sitting comfortably around a campfire, a dancing glow is cast across the group's faces.
Why has America become so pervasive? I figured that coming here was the best way to see.
What have you figured out?
There's this intoxicating confidence.
Who haven't we asked?
The members of the group look around the fire.
Jan... Jan, where have you always wanted to go?
Jan is looking off into space.
I've always wanted to see Alaska.
She looks down at her hands, twisting her rings.
...Glacier Bay. I have fantasized about going to Glacier Bay for years, but any part of Alaska would do.
I guess that it's about as far away from where I was born as a body could get.
We do a trip that goes to Glacier Bay. Why didn't you sign up for that one?
Jan looks around the group, from face to face, then down at her rings again as she twists them uncomfortably.
Well... first, I couldn't afford the Alaska trip... it was twice as dear as this one... but, now I've met all of you. I've never met such wonderful people before.
She looks up, but quickly looks back at her hands in the awkward silence.
I wouldn't trade this for anything.
Dolf gets up abruptly and brushes the dust off his jeans.
Now, don't get all mushy on us, Jan... I'm off to bed. We'll all need our rest for the morning.
INT. JAN'S TENT - LATER
Jan ducks slowly inside the entrance to her tent and gets on all fours, spreading out her sleeping bag carefully by the light of her flashlight.
She takes off her shoes and puts them neatly in a corner.
Her hands fumble at the back of her neck, taking off the chain that holds her mother's ring.
She takes the chain and hangs it gently from a loop of fabric in the apex of her tent.
Lying down, the ring dangling above her head, she closes her sleeping bag around her and flips off her flashlight.
EXT. TOP OF THE VAN - SAME
Dylan holds his arm around Auke, staring up at the stars.
Jan is strange. It's sweet that she said that... but she's very strange.
We get some weird ones.
I mean, she doesn't even know us.
If that's true, then we don't know each other.
EXT. CAMPGROUND - SUNRISE
Pre-dawn mist hovers over the campsite as Jo shoves a few last things tightly into her day-pack.
Through the dim light, Dolf and Pablo approach.
Don't forget to bring water.
I'm so exited... I think I've brought too many things.
She hefts the full pack onto her shoulders. Pablo hands her something as Dolf turns to see the others coming.
I brought you something.
She takes it, not understanding.
What is it?
Your underwear. You left them in my tent.
Jo smiles an embarrassed smile and gives him a quick hug.
INT. JAN'S TENT - SAME
Jan lies peaceful in her tent. She breathes slowly, unconscious. The morning light casts a green glow as it comes through the tent fabric, illuminating her face.
Voices are muffled outside as the group prepares to leave.
Jan, are you coming to watch the sunrise?
I think she's still sleeping.
Jan's eyes flutter for a moment.
Jan. Wake up. We're leaving for the rim of the valley.
Jan smiles softly.
Usually she's up before us.
She was tired last night.
Okay guys, let her sleep. Let's go.
Jan's eyes flutter one last time and she stops breathing.