First let me just mention that it is gloriously quiet in my office right now. The whole world could've just been eaten by the Langoliers and I'm not sure I would care because it's quiet.
I've probably just jinxed myself.
Let's start by reminding you that traveling is something that does not go well for Dave and me. We have learned to arrive at airports AT LEAST three hours early because, inevitably, something is going to go wrong. You could make tons of money betting that somewhere in our attempt to get through an airport, we will be thwarted. Once, it was that Dave didn't have a form he needed to have filled out online (that no one told us about) and the airport, mysteriously, didn't have wi-fi. Another time, I had (plastic, airplane-safe) knitting needles and yarn in my carry-on. Apparently, I wasn't going to use the needles to kill anyone, but the yarn. Then, of course, there was the great wine-smuggling adventure of 2006. Like I said, it never goes easily for us in an airport.
And now, apparently, when we travel by car.
Saturday morning we got up bright and early... well, truthfully it was too early to be bright, so it was just early. We loaded our car, woke up the baby and set out on our way to El Salvador. Originally, the 10 travelers, one of which being the Lady Bug, wanted to pile into two cars- our SUV and another sedan. We nixed that when we realized just how much stuff the Lady Bug (and her mother) need to go out on a three-day vacation. The now three cars left the city around 8am-ish, heading merrily down the road. We got to the border and encountered our first inconvenience- apparently now you must stop and let someone go through your passport as you cross the border into El Salvador. This has never happened before. Since it was a long weekend, there was a 45-minute line. With no air-conditioning. And tiny Guatemalans trying to sneak past you in line. Fun stuff. We picked up three hitchhikers as we crossed over... that's not true! The travel gods were not smiling on some of our friends either, and their ride had had to turn around and go back to the city (a two-hour trip) to retrieve some forgotten paperwork. They were going to sit around and wait but we offered our extra seats and off we went again.
For another 10 miles. Then the a/c started blowing hot and the car had no pick-up. There was a strange rattling sound. Dave decided to pull over while I desperately tried to call the two cars in front of us. Funny thing about TIGO (our local phone service)- it doesn't work well once you cross into El Sal (that's what we in the know call El Salvador). So no one was picking up and I was panicking slightly, wondering how far they would get before anyone noticed we really weren't behind them. Luckily, we finally got a hold of one of the cars and they turned back around.
The boys crowded around the hood and hmmm and hawed about what the problem was. All we knew was that water wasn't helping and you couldn't turn the car back on. The rest of us piled out onto the side of the road, scurrying to the only shade available. The baby was stripped down to her onesie, because it's hot in El Sal.
Five hours later (I'm just kidding, it was only two hours, but five hours later is one of my principals favorite sayings), after two trips up and down the road by two different carloads, a mechanic was found. He looked under the hood and basically said, "Yep, you're screwed." He agreed to two the car to his shop where we would leave it until Monday when our mechanic from the city would drive down and tow it back to his shop. On the way to the El Sal's mechanic shop, the rope towing our car broke. I watched in horror as it started rolling back down the gigantic hill towards us. Then I remembered that someone was in the passenger seat and they maneuvered the car to the side of the road. And Lindsey, God bless her, Queen of the Ever Prepared for Anything, had rope in her car. We were off again.
At the mechanic's, we managed to stuff everything into two cars but had to leave our hitchhiker's there to wait for their ride to return. And we set off again...
The weekend itself was amazing and relaxing with just the right amount of bacon cheeseburgers, alcohol, and pool time. The baby loved seeing the ocean for the first time and I loved watching her play with (or scream at) her new friends. It was really wonderful and just what the doctor ordered after a long and cold rainy season in Guatemala.
Monday came and we headed home. We got lost (not WE, but the lead car). Instead of it taking us an hour to get to the border, it took 2 1/2 hours. Then we got pulled over right across the Guatemalan border and they clearly wanted money from us or the mechanic towing our car. We didn't give in. They were stupid dumb-dumb heads.
It should take 3 1/2 hours to get to El Sal and back. It took almost six. The Lady Bug was a real trooper- only giving in to her inner sleepy demons in the last hour or so of the car ride. The car made it back safe and sound and is apparently not as bad as we thought it was going to be. But we're struggling to find rides home and the nanny is kind of pissed that I can't get there right after 3pm as usual and it's just a stressful situation all around.
However, it was so great to have so many friends, especially the uber-prepared ones and the ones who were fluent in Spanish, and the baby-loving ones, to help us out. And like Lee said, "It could've been worse. We could've been alone. And in the dark."
But next time, will you drive?