Friday, September 23, 2016

All the way to Argentina

Time flies. It's been  two years since we wrote our book ALL THE WAY TO ARGENTINA about our drive from Los Angeles to Argentina.And we took the trip 38 years ago. 

The Table of Contents from the book


1 Chapter One - The Beginning
4 Chapter Two - United States of America
7 Chapter Three - The Hilton on Wheels
10 Preparation
15 Now or Never Decision Time
17 The Intrepid Voyagers
20 The First Miles
24 Chapter Four - First Days in Mexico
63 Lake Chapala
72 Mexico City
82 Acapulco
107 Chapter Five - Guatemala
114 Chapter Six - El Salvador
120 Chapter Seven - Honduras
123 Chapter Eight - Nicaragua
127 Chapter Nine - Costa Rica
140 Chapter Ten - Panama
159 Chapter Eleven - Colombia
184 Chapter Twelve - Ecuador
193 Chapter Thirteen - Peru
202 Chapter Fourteen - Chile
209 Chapter Fifteen - Argentina
219 El Griego Campground the First Time
224 Buenos Aires
244 Trip to Brazil
252 Chapter Sixteen Brazil
265 Chapter Seventeen - Uruguay
269 Chapter Eighteen - Back in Argentina
El Griego for the Summer
282 Buenos Aires - Preparing to go Home
286 Chapter Nineteen - On Our Way Home

A couple of pages from the book. This happened in Columbia. It was late at night and we were violating our own rule of not driving at night. Bill is my husband everyone else is our kids. The motohome had just stalled at the entrance of a bridge. 
“Mom, why are we stopped? Where are we?” Paul who’d been sleeping
in back headed towards me and tripped over Randy who didn’t move. “Why’s
Randy on the floor, is he dead?” He asked as he crawled up on the seat next
to me.
“Who’s dead?” John called from the back as he started forward. “Is that
why we’re stopped? Someone’s dead?”
“Shush, No one’s dead, Randy’s asleep on the floor. Go back to sleep.
Don’t wake Gil up.”
Bill came to the window. His hair wet from the fine rain. I pushed it
open. “Get the extension cords from under the sink and give ‘em to me
please. I’m going to try to charge the battery with the generator.
Tousled hair and sleepy eyed Gil now crawled into my lap, “Why’s
Randy on the floor, where’s Dad? I’m scared.” I cuddled him. He was still
sleepy warm and felt good on this cold bleak night.
“We just stalled. That’s all. Go back to sleep.”
“Mom? Mommy?” Paul nudged my leg and pointed out the front
window. “There’s lots of lights comin’ down the hill.” He was right; there
were lots of vehicles coming towards us.
The generator had its own battery, one Bill had installed before leaving
home, and it quickly started as Bill switched it on. I jumped from the sudden
sound as it rumbled to life. Hopefully it wouldn’t take too long to charge the
coach battery.
Across the bridge the first set of headlights had stopped. I could just
make out what looked like a jeep attached to the headlights. We could hear
the grinding of brakes as the many trucks following it stopped one behind
the other. Then glaring spotlights turned the night into day. They all focused
on us.
Squinting through the glare I watched as three men got out of the jeep
and cautiously started across the bridge towards us. The light flickered off
the insignia on the shoulders of the man in the lead. He was wearing a belted
trench coat and cap. The other two were dressed in fatigues their trousers
blousing out of their boots, large belts around their waists and beret type
caps on their heads. Abruptly more soldiers poured out of the back of the
lead truck; they carried automatic weapons that they pointed at us.
As he strode towards us the man with the bars on his shoulders was
waving his arms and shouting, “QUE ESTAN HACIENDO AQUI!! MUEVA
translated it meant - “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE?
Bill went to the front of the motorhome his hands out to his side at
shoulder level. One of the soldiers pointed his gun at Bill’s stomach. John
Mc was right behind Bill arms held away from his body; he dropped his
helmet to the ground. The officer motioned with his gun, “Move, get that
out of here, back it up. NOW!”
In Spanish Bill answered: “We’re stalled. I’m trying to get it started.
We’re from the U.S. My family’s inside.”
“Passports?” I was already handing them out the window. The officer
reached up to take them and gave them to the soldier behind him who
inspected every one of them looking up at the window when he got to mine.
He walked to the door, I opened it and he came in. Still holding the passports
he checked the back and bathroom. Nodded as he saw the kids. Handed the
passports back to me and went out. I quickly closed the door. Inside no one
made a sound.
The officer was speaking “You have to move this thing, now! You’re
blocking the bridge and my trucks are filled with ammunition and heavy
duty explosives. We need to get across. Last week guerillas ambushed a
convoy right here and killed a bunch of soldiers. Move so we can get past.”
“Go in and try the engine John.” Bill accompanied by a soldier walked
to the back.
John Mc came in; pumped the gas and turned the key. Nothing.
“We’re charging the battery of the coach, it might take a little while,”
Bill explained.
A fourth man got out of the jeep and hurried across the bridge. He wore
high boots over his jodhpurs and an Eisenhower jacket, on his jacket the
insignia of a Major, on his hip was a sidearm. His hand rested on it. He
motioned for the two soldiers still holding their guns on us to go back to the
jeep. They turned and started across the bridge, every few steps they looked
back over their shoulders at us.
He walked up to the open window. Eyes as black as the night peered
in; he looked directly at John Mc and me. Nodded and turned towards Bill.
“Mom.” John had come up front to join us. “Is Dad going to get shot?”
“Of course not! Everything’s going to be okay. They won’t hurt us.
They know we’re not guerillas.” I sure hoped I sounded more convincing
than I felt.
Snatches of conversation came in through the window. “The battery is
starting to charge; soon we will be able to move.”
“Shall I try it again?” John Mc leaned out the window to ask.
“No don’t, not yet. It hasn’t been long enough.”
The two soldiers waited halfway across the bridge silently watching.
The Major joined them; they looked at us and seemed to be arguing. The
first officer motioned towards the trucks, nodded and headed back across
the bridge and got back behind the wheel of the jeep. He moved it to the side
of the road and beckoned a truck to pull up next to him. A brief discussion
took place between the men then the huge truck started to crawl forward
across the bridge towards us. He stopped about twenty feet in front of us.
The Major walked back to Bill. “I’ll give you five minutes, if you aren’t
out of the way by then we’ll use that truck to push you off the road.” He
gestured towards the massive truck that had driven on to the bridge. He
turned and strode back to his jeep.
Bill told John. “We’ll wait until the last minute. If we keep trying to
start the engine we’ll never get enough juice to turn it over. We must have
been running on the alternator for a long time. That’s why it was giving me
trouble back there.”
John Mc snuck looks at his watch. Gil had gone back to sleep in my
arms. Paul and John gazed out the front window at the truck. No one spoke.
The truck gears ground and it slowly rolled towards us. I wondered,
“Will they give us time to get anything out?”
“Try it now,” shouted Bill from the back.
John Mc turned the key. There were clicking whirring noises. The truck
was within ten feet of us when he stopped again. Three soldiers got out of
the back. They stood legs spread, arms crossed, watching.
“Try again, keep cranking. If it doesn’t catch this time. . .” A sputter, a
groan and then the engine came to life.
“Back it up, back it up, before it stalls again.” shouted Bill as he came
through the door. John jammed the gear into reverse; the trailer was at an
angle to the motorhome so it didn’t want to back up.
“Get out of the seat, let me sit down. NOW!” Bill pulled at John’s sleeve.
“Come on before it stops again.”
Before he was completely in the seat he checked the gear and gunned
the engine, we moved a little. But we were still blocking the entrance. The
big truck moved closer.
Dear God, they wouldn’t push it over with us in it would they?
“Mom I think they might push us all over.” John echoed my thoughts.
“No, no they won’t.”
Bill pumped the gas again - the engine whined, we moved back a few
more feet. The engine died! Silence.
The truck was by now right in front of us.

So basically I haven't done any thing to write about today. Except taking a long walk this morning of 2 1/2 miles. The weather was so nice I couldn't stay inside. 
Have to go to fabric store to get the material for the backing and sashing for the quilt. Can't do any more on it until then. 
With my walk this morning I did get in over 10,000 steps today.


joared said...

Obviously you survived that adventure. Your trip sounds interesting to say the least. I recall the dirt Pan American Hwy in Ecuador up past Cotopaxi Volcano in the '50s, Quito and surrounding area. I always wondered if someone could actually drive the Hwy from the U.S. through S.A., or live to tell about it.

Carol and Bill said...

It was quite a drive in 1978. Some areas were pretty iffy. Especially the wooden bridges with pieces of wood missing. The book tells all about the Adventures.