November 23, 2011

Taking the Long Way Around

We were invited to a get-together at the home of our friends, the Bowens.  You'll remember Andy Bowen from my posts about Guarani class, as he's the teacher.  Well, his wife Lizet, an extraordinary chef, invited us and a couple of other families, for a birthday lunch in Andy's honor.  (Check back another day for a post about the incredible meal.)  We were thrilled to join them in their beautiful hill-top home in rural Paraguay.
A bit more than halfway there, we were stopped in the middle of the road. This is a regular occurrence, as it's the method the police use for traffic stops and writing tickets seeking bribes license checks.  However, after sitting in the same spot for over half an hour, we were starting to wonder what was up.  Finally a man walked by and told us there was a manifestation (a strike, a demonstration, a picket line, what DO we call this in English?) further down the road.  So the police had totally blocked traffic of any sorts--taxis, buses, horsecarts, motorcycles, EVERYBODY.  Even the dark Mercedes Benz who thought that he'd for sure be exempt from this delay and weaved his way to the front of the line to try to push through.  This blockade was, of course, for our safety, as some manifestations have gotten a little ugly lately.  Okay, a lot ugly.

Various cars during this time were making U-turns, but the only way we knew to make the last half-hour of our trip, meant about a three-hour detour back to where we'd started and then coming in from the opposite direction.  We decided to wait it out, until one of the vehicles that turned around was a bus named for the town we wanted to get to.  A little lightbulb came on over our heads, and we all got the idea at the same time that THIS GUY should know a short-cut, if one exists.  So we whipped a circle and followed that bus!  Boy, did we follow that bus!

About a half-kilometer behind where we'd been stopped, the driver turned off the asphalt and onto a muddy dirt road.  We stopped long enough to ask a guy standing around at the end of that road, if it really led to where we wanted to go.  Yep.  "And how many kilometers?" Blank stare, then a grin.  "A lot," he says.  He wasn't kidding.

Ken drove like a champ behind that bus, with a line of cars behind us, for what seemed like a trillion miles.  We crossed barbed wire fences, went through cow pastures, through folks' front yards, through mud holes, around crazy hairpin turns, and more than once I thanked God that we chose to follow the bus because we'd have never known all the right turns to end up where we wanted to be.

Reckon we can push this thing out of the mudhole, Juan?
At one point, the bus went through a muddy spot in the road and bogged down. Various passengers hung out of the windows, examining the damage, while the driver kept spinning deeper and deeper.  Finally, a few got out and started pushing from behind and pulling from the front.  Pulling the front bumper with their hands.  Seriously.  Had they not gotten that bus out, we'd have had to turn back, because there wasn't room to pass on either side.  We were really praying for them.  They did finally break free, just in time for an older man with a shovel to walk out into the mud and start patting around with that shovel.  We motioned for him to scoot over so that we didn't splash him (or slide into him), but he insisted in standing there, "in case we needed help."  Suit yourself.  We skidded right on through, without hitting Mr. Helpful, and eventually found our way to the paved road far away from the manifestation.

Then we got to Andy's driveway, which is really a winding, muddy, at times rocky, dirt road that makes its way up a small mountain.  We did fine on all that terrain until we got to a normal grassy spot.  I had no sooner said, "Oh, good, the grass will clean off the mud from underneath the car," when we hit a spot where the grass/dirt in the middle was too high for the dug-out ruts where our wheels were.  Clunk.  Stuck.  Thankfully, friends with a 4x4 were nearby (have I mentioned how much we miss our Mission Mobile?) and pulled us out.  We decided to give the VW a well-deserved break, and leave it parked there in the grass.  We piled into their 4x4 for the rest of the journey.

When we were coming home, we were stopped by the police again, and Ken had to show his license.  The policeman was still very suspicious, and he asked me where we'd been.  "Don't even get me started," ran through my mind, but I opted for "to the school that teaches Jopara to missionaries, up on that big hill over there."  That was a good choice, because his suspicions came from the fact that our car was covered in mud.  I gave him a "What an ugly road!" in Guarani, to which he smiled and let us pass.  Phwew.  I love it when they wave us on without incident.  :)  And now, the car and the driver are both tired and resting.

1 comment:

  1. It's good you furnish pictures with your stories because, if I hadn't see that bus make that hairpin turn for myself, I may have had difficulty believing that. If they are that aggressive and determined on the "mud rally" roads, I would not want to meet up with them on the paved roads! You guys really need all our prayers.

    Love ya,
    A. Donn


Wanna leave a comment? Be nice, please, and if you can't, at least leave your email address...