The story begins here: Missionary Travel Stories.
Continuing his story, my dad Hal is sharing his story of traveling through Central America on the Pan American Highway, 1963. Enjoy the thirteenth episode in his journey:
I had to go to Guatemala City, about two or three hours out of the way, to get visas for Honduras and Nicaragua because I had a transit visa only, which wasn’t good after I had been delayed for one day. Somehow I remembered that the Central American Mission had a seminary there. I started asking people if they knew about it, but either no one knew about it or they didn’t understand me. Finally, I talked to a man who said he would take me there. It was nearby and he took me right to it!
I was very happy to meet missionaries who spoke English, and the anxiety I had been feeling subsided. The president of the seminary was about my size and gave me a change of clothes. He also kindly took me all across the city to find the embassies where I got the visas I needed. This took several days. One missionary I talked to told me to be sure not to have a wreck in Guatemala City because he knew some Americans who had a wreck there a few years ago, and they were still in prison. This gratuitous information did nothing to quiet my nerves!
I left Guatemala City in the morning. The drive the rest of the way across Guatemala was beautiful and scenic, the climate cool and pleasant, and in about six hours I came to the border of El Salvador. I had no problems crossing the border into El Salvador, though I wasn’t sure I was answering the questions of the officials correctly. I just tried to be agreeable.
About dusk I was driving about fifty miles an hour on curving roads over low hills. Going downhill, I was for all practical purposes just coasting, and the motor was not making any noise. Suddenly, I saw in front of me people lying all over the narrow paved road! I was afraid I was going to run over a lot of people. Men, women, and children went running in both directions, and somehow I managed to go through the crowd without running over anyone. From the fright, sweat popped out all over me. I slowed up to about forty miles an hour. There was no traffic—I was the only vehicle on the highway. The black top road didn’t have a white line down the middle, and in the darkness it was kind of like driving in a tunnel, but I drove down the center.
As I was thanking God for sparing those people’s lives just a few minutes before, I suddenly came upon the same scene, and again there were people lying all over the road. But I was going slower this time and I think I scared these people more than they scared me. I’ve always wondered why they would have been lying on the road. The climate was warm and maybe the black top felt cool.