Saturday, March 26, 2011

Driving in the Mountains


While we are on the subject of driving, I know there are some places I will never drive to here on the islands (well, I should never say never--I once told myself I would never drive a school bus).

I do not like heights--I do not like being on top of a mountain, or being up high and looking down. I get this panicky, sick feeling inside. I think I am doing somewhat better now than when we first came to live here--but it is one of those things that you never know when it will strike, so I try to avoid those situations.

Last week Doug offered to give a man in our church a ride home, and being the thoughtful man that he is, Doug volunteered to take me home first knowing that I don't like going up in the mountains. Since it was night time I figured I would be OK with the heights since I wouldn't be able to see the cliffs as well-- so we all went together. Remi lives on a farm way up in the mountains, about as high up as you can go on this side of the island. Once you get off the main road and past the center of town, the roads are very, very steep and one lane.

Traffic laws are designed with this in mind (being fresh out of driving school the laws are still fresh in my brain), and if two vehicles meet on a one lane road, the person driving up the mountain has the right of way, meaning the person going down has to back up.

Lo and behold, we are way up in the mountains when we see the headlights of an oncoming car--and rather than stopping and waiting at the top of the mountain like they should have so we could continue to the top--they proceeded down the mountain, meeting us head on--and there was no space for any of us to pull over or turn around. Both of our cars were at a standstill, just facing one another and waiting for the other to move. I kept thinking to myself, what is this person doing--don't they realize how difficult it is going to be for us to back up, in the dark--on a curvy, steep mountain road and try and get our momentum back to go proceed?

The driver sat there for several moments and it was obvious that if any of us was going to advance in our journey we would have to surrender and back down the mountain. It was night, and I had visions of us backing ourselves off the road and down a huge drop off. When we got to a place wide enough for two cars, she passed by, rolling her window down and thanking us for allowing her to pass. I was not exactly thrilled with her gesture of kindness, politely telling her the rule of the road (I don't have my husband's gift for diplomacy and peace keeping) and she proceeded to tell me how she was German, etc. so I guess that was a good excuse--perhaps ignorance to the Spanish laws.

When we tried to move forward again, the nightmare began. Our van would not move forward! Doug kept trying to get some traction, but our tires were spinning and you could smell the rubber and the transmission burning. Leanna started to scream with fear as we were moving backward. So now what are we going to do?

I pleaded with my husband to quit trying as I too, was afraid, and thought our motor was going to burn up. It was obvious we weren't going to move forward, so my husband started to move sideways. Eventually we decided we would have to try and turn around and go back down the mountain. I feel badly that our friend had to walk the rest of the way home, but relieved just to be getting off that mountain road!

1 comment:

Jamie Parfitt said...

I would have been screaming and sobbing in fear at that point. I can't handle narrow high roads.