How I Survived a Death Defying Road Trip

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I love road trips. Picture the excitement of a 5 year old on Christmas morning and that’s how I am when someone mentions road trip. I’m the first one out the door and ready to roll. Most road trips are balls to the wall fun.

This one started out that way and turned terribly wrong. So much so, at one point I feared for my life. But I learned. A lot. Who’d have thunk (I love that word) that this road trip would change my life, and the way I travel, forever.

Grab your coffee…

It started out like any other day

Well, don’t they all? You and your friend make a plan to go on a road trip. You have your destination picked out and have Google mapped the route. All seems normal and standard as far as road trips go.

This one was gonna be a short one. The town we chose was about 1 hour away on motorcycle through the crazy roads of Guatemala. Our plan? Go there, stop and have lunch and come home for a nice dinner.

It was Christmas Eve ❤

Sounds like a fun day to me!

Neither one of us had been to this town so we were excited to check out yet another cool little town around the lake. We travel well together so we expected nothing but a good and enjoyable day.

Little did we know what lay ahead of us….

Could this be the road?

According to Google maps, “go straight here”. We came to a point in the road where the pavement stopped and it turned into hard packed sand road. Not uncommon here in Guatemala. A pickup truck was just coming out of this road so it seemed viable.

Off we went.

Dave asked if I was ok and if I felt comfortable enough to continue. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary at that point. Let’s carry on. Part of me was whispering “Iva, I think danger lies ahead” but I passed that off as me just being a little scaredy cat. I’m a badass warrior, right, who likes to look fear in the eye and say fuck you.

Let’s do this. And we carried on, and I hung on to Dave a little tighter. I was leery.

Life lesson #1- Always listen to your gut instinct.

First road block.

Driving along for what seemed like an eternity we hit our first obstacle. An extremely steep and harrowing hill. We decided it would be best for me to get off the bike and walk down the hill and Dave ride alone.

On one side of the hill was a 1000 foot drop off, no guard rails and keep in mind the road is still sand packed with loose stones (picture Ice Road Truckers take on the Himalayas). The road is clearly under construction as we passed a few parked dump trucks and other construction type vehicles.

I slipped and slid down the hill but made it in one piece. I got back on the bike and we drove for another little way and hit another hill, just as steep and harrowing. Back off the bike I went and back down the hill on foot I went.

It was starting to get a little scarier for me. I soldiered on. At the end of the second hill it donned on us that we hadn’t brought water. It was starting to get hot. Not sweltering humid hot, but hot. I was beginning to get slightly uncomfortable and really wished I had something to drink.

Life Lesson #2- Always be prepared for road trips. Have water, emergency supplies and a fully charged cell phone.

Are we there yet?

As we carried on we hit two or three more hills like the last ones. Steep, long, fucking scary with extreme drop offs. The one good thing that kept us going was the fact that we could finally see the town we were heading for. Way down in the valley, we saw it.

It was so fucking close. We kept on, him driving down the hills, me walking.

We finally made it down what we assumed was the last of the worst. Were we wrong. We got to a point where there was a payloader (or whatever the fuck you wanna call this construction vehicle) and I went to go investigate further as suddenly there was no more road.

The road ended right there. Done. That’s it. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200… You’re fucked. And we were.

In that split second I turned around to Dave in utter shock and disbelief and total defeat. I also looked back up the last hill I just slid down and suddenly realized that all those hills I just walked down I now had to walk back up them. There was no way in hell Dave would have been able to get up those hills with me on the back of the bike.

And I cried. In that split second my whole life flashed before my eyes. There was no way in a million fucking years I was going to be able to walk back up those hills that I just slid down.

No way. I’ll surely die. For a second I thought to tell Dave to just leave me there and go home and get help or something. In that split second I was the most terrified I have ever been in my entire life.

I didn’t even know what to do at that point. We both knew we had to turn around and head back the way we came. We knew what lay ahead and it wasn’t pretty.

And we had no water…

We started back up the hills, Dave going ahead of me and shouting down at me that he had made it ok, take your time Iva, you can do it Iva. By the end of the second hill I wasn’t sure how much longer I can go on.

We had stopped at the place where the trucks were parked and Dave found me a half bottle of water in one of the trucks. I didn’t care how old it was or what the fuck it tasted like, I needed water. I knew he did as well but he refused any it.

There wasn’t much water and I had no idea how long we would be out there for so I tried to ration as best I could. I kept insisting he have some but he continually turned it down.

We should call for help

By the 3rd or 4th hill we decided we should call for help. I couldn’t go on any longer. It was taking me forever to get up the hills as I had to stop continuously to catch my breath, slow down my heart, and give my legs a break. I felt like dying.

One of my biggest fears was that while Dave was gunning it back up the hills the bike would slide right off the hill. I was terrified for him. I was terrified for us.

I reached out to a new friend I had made who I knew lived in the town we were originally heading to and I knew she would know where we were. She called emergency for us and they dispatched a 4 wheel drive to come out and get us.

Let’s go!!!

As exhausted as we both were we decided to conquer the next hill and wait at the top for the truck. When we got to the top we realized we weren’t too far off from where the road actually was normal before it turned into this chaotic cluster fuck.

We carried on a bit further and finally we were back on flat grounds. Hallelujah.

I was beaten down, parched, hot, and an emotional wreck but happy to know that we did it. We made it out. The whole time we remained calm, patient and compassionate towards each other. I cried a few times and he held me tight. I felt such comfort in his arms. I knew he would never let anything harm me.

Life Lesson #3– in stressful situations, remain calm, ALWAYS!!

Though this whole trip turned into a fucking nightmare part of me feels almost blessed to have experienced it. It was scary, life threatening and borderline dumb but I took on this challenge head on and conquered it. Yay me!!! We came out unscathed, tired and hot but alive.

It really could have been so much worse.

Google maps, you fucking suck monkey balls.

Turns out, I was later told, that the residents of the nearby towns are fighting to have this project stopped as the road is completely unsafe and many landslides have been reported from there. It’s a ridiculous pass that threatens the lives of those who may travel it and the residents below.

Peace and Love


Written by

Self help Guru|Expat|Website: mini self help eBook series here:

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