Continuing his story from yesterday’s post, my dad Hal is sharing his story of traveling through Central America on the Pan American Highway, 1963. Enjoy the tenth episode in his journey:
One night I stopped in the early evening for supper at another place that reminded me of the Old West. It was actually a combination small general store and restaurant. The Most memorable thing about it was all kinds of parrots loose in the room. One huge bird walked toward me, making me quite uncomfortable, but it turned out to be friendly. I found out later it was a Macaw. I had never seen one before.
I was still on the Pan Ameican highway, which was the shortest route, but it went through a narrow pass in the mountains called El Tapón (literally “the stopper,” but we would say a bottle neck). I came to a small village over to my left. According to my map, it was only a few miles from the pass through the mountain range. I noticed that there were no cars behind me, and only a few coming toward me. For some reason the drivers all waved at me.
What I didn’t know until I arrived at the pass a few minutes later was that the side of the mountain had fallen on to the road, filling it for about 100 yards with dirt and rocks. I stopped and didn’t know what to do. Some travelers had gotten to that point and gone back to the little village to find places to stay. An American who spoke English and Spanish was waiting, and he explained that this happened frequently after a heavy rain. He said the road might be open within an hour, or it might be twelve hours or longer. I could see the bull dozers and men working to uncover the road. It would be very difficult to turn my Suburban and trailer around, so I decided to wait, thinking I would probably have to spend the night there. After about two hours one of the bulldozer drivers, who could speak a little English, told me he thought I could get through, though I’d have to forge about a foot of water, so I decided to try it. He cautioned me to drive slowly so as not to cause another landslide. I wondered about that, but I went through without any problems. It only took me about thirty minutes to get through the pass and on my way to Guatemala City, the capital of Guatemala.
More to come…