Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
*Southern California. Upon his arrival in Los Angeles, Sal declares that Los Angeles is the loneliest city in America. Traveling with Terry, his Mexican lover, Sal walks down a main street, where there is a carnival atmosphere. Short of funds and finding no employment, Sal and Terry journey to Bakersfield to earn money by picking grapes. Finally, near Sabinal, they find work as cotton pickers. They rent a tent for a dollar, and though Sal’s wages provide only for day-to-day subsistence, Sal is wonderfully in love and feels happy that he is living off the earth, as he always dreamed he would be. Nevertheless, the chill of October arrives, and Sal has the restless desire to leave. Sal and Terry promise to meet in New York, but each knows the meeting will never come to pass. Getting a ride to Los Angeles, Sal stops at Columbia Pictures, where his rejected manuscript awaits him. Instead of embarking on a Hollywood career, Sal finds himself making baloney sandwiches in a parking lot, waiting for the departure of his bus.
*New Orleans. Louisiana’s largest and most cosmopolitan city. As Dean, Sal, and others drive along, they are thrilled to hear jazz playing on the radio. New Orleans appears ahead of them, and they anticipate the excitement of the city. The women on the streets are stunningly beautiful. On the ferry across the Mississippi River, Sal appreciates the great American river.
*Algiers. District of New Orleans. Arriving in Algiers, the traveling band finds the dilapidated house of Old Bull Lee. Sal and Dean hope to visit exciting bars in New Orleans, but Bull insists that the bars are all dreary and takes his friends to the dullest places. Later, when Sal wants to look at the Mississippi, he finds that a fence blocks his view. As days go by, Bull reveals his eccentricities and distrust of bureaucracy, and they begin to weary of one another’s company. Finally, in the dusky light, Dean, Marylou, and Sal get in their car and head to California.
*Mexico. Sal, Dean, and Stan drive into Mexico, and Sal takes the wheel. He notices the surrounding jungle and the road that rises into the mountains. In Gregoria, a young Mexican named Victor approaches and provides marijuana and prostitutes. A wild night of intoxication, sex, music, and dancing ensues, making Sal feel that he is experiencing the end of the world. Nevertheless, as soon as Sal and Dean leave Gregoria, the road slopes downward.
The night is dark and steamy hot, with bugs swarming and biting. On the map, the men see that they have crossed the Tropic of Cancer. Caked with dead bugs and stinking in their sweaty shirts, they proceed to Ciudad Mante. After refueling there, Sal, Dean, and Stan begin another ascent. At an elevation of more than one mile, they discover a tiny thatched hut. They meet some native children, whose eyes are like those of the Virgin Mary. Sal is especially impressed that these native people are oblivious to atomic weaponry and its power to destroy everything. Their old Ford rolls on, and soon the men are immersed in the frantic pace of Mexico City. Sal becomes delirious after contracting dysentery, and Dean, having secured his Mexican divorce papers, abandons Sal to make his return trip.