Thursday, January 08, 2009

Reason I love to travel #5

Travel has taught me that some blessings are extremely well disguised, especially in Guatemala.

Tempering any expectations of a smooth trip from the highlands to the islands, before departure we watched a mechanic crawl under our bus with a hammer and some duct tape. So, Cathy and I bought some "emergency" beer for the road.

Not an hour into the journey, when the engine caught on fire and the bus filled with noxious fumes, we were already glad we had. Waiting in the rain for the rescue bus was easier to bear with beer, if only because it made the locals laugh. With us or at us, we didn't care.

Later than sooner, the promised bus arrived, and we were finally back on the serpentine trail to Guatemala City. The next hour of the trip was remarkably hassle-free.

Then, traffic stopped dead. The sun went down, the driver turned off the bus, and we waited in the dark. Passengers began sharing food with hungry strangers, and I rationed my water. A few people gathered round to watch Cathy and me play Crazy Eights by the light of my head lamp; that's how bored they were.

We had no idea why we were stuck there, but we knew we'd missed our connection. We'd have to spend the night in the frighteningly dangerous and mostly filthy capital, if we ever got there. There was no remaining "emergency" beer, not even a working toilet. Our positive attitudes were positively tried.

Eventually, the driver announced the nature of the traffic jam. A mudslide had buried a major section of the road ahead and we were caught on this side of it. When we finally started moving again, on a single lane cleared by bulldozers, I saw the blessing in being off schedule:

Trapped on this side or that side of a mudslide, is a helluva lot better than trapped under one.

8 comments:

pistols at dawn said...

Is there anything duct tape can't fix? Well, besides the lack of emergency beers, that is.

Ace C said...

I'm glad to here someone else thinks that city is filthy. I had a short run there and have dubbed it one of the worst places of my travels.

Wes said...

When I drove from Liberia, CR to San Jose at night during the rainy season the mudslides were so frequent that avoiding them was actually a fun little adventure... though I'll admit it would have been less fun if we had run out of emergency beers.

wyliekat said...

It's like a macabre version of a Sesame Street lesson on under, beside and through.

surviving myself said...

I take busses back from here all the time because I don't own a car, so I feel your pain.

I once was in a bus on my way back from DC and out of the corner of my eye, I saw something fly through the air outside. I looked at my friend and said, "That can't be good." Next thing you know we're sitting on the side of the highway because that thing I saw was the back tire flying off.

Maybe it's time I look into getting a car again.

Kate Savage said...

pistols - Animals.

Ace C - Yet no matter how hard I try, I always get stuck there overnight at the Spring Hotel, where a member of the staff once invited me for dinner and then sang the merits of incest. We didn't exchange email addresses.

Wes - Ooh. I adore Costa Rica! It presents different challenges for everyone. You avoided mudslides, I avoided horny tour guides. Well, most of them.

Wyliekat - Yes! Most valuable life lessons were covered by Sesame Street, even going so far as to demonstrate why drugs are bad. Have you seen some of those Seventies episodes?

surviving myself - Once, on a bus to NYC (from Montreal), the woman seated beside me decided to take the transit time to choose a new ring for her cell phone. She sampled each one, over and over, eventually narrowing it down, and wearing me down times five.

I'm not sure she realized how close to death she was that day.

Buses really ARE dangerous.

wyliekat said...

Have you seen some of those Seventies episodes?

Have I? Aw hells, I think those drug induced snippets have made me the person I am. That, and Electric Company. ;-P

Kate Savage said...

wyliekat - So THAT's why we seem to like each other :)