We’re rolling down the road in Guatemala, heading toward the El Salvador border, and Tracey comments again on the fabulous roads, the smells, and the scenery. The road is bordered by huge shade trees and flowers fill the ditches. The road itself is a great gently curving country drive that puts us in a very peaceful mood – a great start to the day.
The border crossing is again very simple and the officials are happy to zip us through the process and get us on our way. More great roads await! El Salvador’s’ coastal road winds along spectacular beaches continuously hit by huge surf. The road dashes back into the mountains just to give us an up-close view of the volcanoes.
El Salvador is a wonderful, cheap and friendly place that will require a second visit, but now the clock is ticking and we simply aren’t able to spend as much time here as we would like. We hit the tail end of a tropical storm in Guatemala and a second one is on its way and causing huge problems on our future route.
After a quick three-day tour of El Salvador and Honduras, we arrive in Nicaragua to learn that the highway has washed away and we can not get through.
The officials stop us – “No puede pasar“. We can’t continue on the road, but we offer ”Hey, can we go up and take a picture?” “No problemo”. We work our way along the road as water floods up to the highway on both sides. It is a disheartening experience to watch this already poor population having their homes and only possessions under water and to see their animals wandering hopelessly along the road.
People continue to stop us and tell us to go back. We persevere.
Finally a local missionary group stops us to say the road is blocked just ahead and invites us to join them for lunch. A great lunch of fresh shrimp followed by an enlightening philosophy discussion. We are continually impressed by how people are dedicating their time, skills and lives to help countries in need. Thanks to Dave Pulzetti and the crew from Beyond Partnership for welcoming us and sharing your knowledge of Nicaragua.
After lunch, our challenge begins in earnest. Water floods across the road and our first sight is of a full-size semi and trailer on its side, pushed off the road by the current, water rushing around and through it. The army is there, as well as curious villagers, stranded trucks, the odd bus, and now us……….
Driving to the starting point of the road closure, we notice a semi truck with a flat deck trailer waiting to get through. Guess where this story is going? In my ‘poco’ Spanish I convince the driver to let us lift the Ural onto the trailer – and make a run for it through the invisible road. He agrees, for a cost…. A whopping four dollars. Ten local villagers help us lift the bike onto the trailer, and some hop on themselves.
Our truck tentatively approaches the edge of the water. Two army soldiers in a commandeered local tractor probe the road ahead and lead us across a flood plain where there is nothing to see but treetops and covered homes. The water has washed away the edges and sometimes the entire lane of the road and created instant rapids and holes deep enough to swallow vehicles.
We come to a guard rail sticking out of the water and realize that it is actually the railing of a bridge; the river is high enough to have covered the bank and the bridge. We pass a stranded ‘chicken bus’ and another semi on its side – this would continue for almost eight kilometers before we reach higher ground over an hour later.