With the school year coming to an end and summer vacations ahead, I thought I would tell you about one of our most memorable trips. It isn’t memorable because of the fun we had, or the scenery, but rather because it is probably our worst vacation---ever! (And I hope it always will be!)
It happened about 20 years ago. We had three children at the time, the youngest, Kristen, was 2. My husband’s parents lived in the Mormon colonies in northern Mexico, and we were all excited to travel down to see them.
Due to work, we left late in the afternoon. Driving over the pot-holed filled Mexican roads is never a safe thing, but doing it in the dark is pretty stupid. Still, we felt we didn’t have a choice, and so after a prayer for protection, we loaded up the car and headed south.
About an hour after crossing the border, we hit one of the vicious holes and our tire went flat. No problem. We still had a spare. We all got out of the car while Wes changed the tire. Then we all got back in and happily continued.
Not too long afterward, our spare went flat.
Now we were in trouble. This was before cell phones (which probably wouldn’t have worked where we were anyway). We evaluated our options. We could stop a passerby for help, but unless they had a spare tire they were willing to give us, it wouldn’t really help. Besides, this late at night only an occasional car passed us anyway, and even back then stories of road side killings and drug traffickers were common.
Not wanting to damage the rim of the tire, but feeling we had no choice, we slowly crept along the road, hoping to keep moving long enough to get to a small town with a phone.
And then the car died. Yes, dead. We later learned the alternator went out, but when it happened we assumed it was the battery. Although it really didn’t matter what the cause, the important thing is we weren’t going anywhere.
And it was midnight, in Mexico, out in the middle of the Sonoran desert.
Far off in the distance we could see a single light, which we presumed was from a house. Wes decided to leave us all in the car, with the doors securely locked, while he walked down the road towards the light in hopes that someone would be there with a phone.
I was terrified. Tearfully, I said goodbye to him, and fervently prayed for his safety as well as ours. Awful thoughts rushed into my head. What would we do if he were killed? What if someone kills us?
While Kristen slept soundly in her car seat, I tried to convince my two older children that all was well and we were just having a very fun adventure—all the time praying the loud pounding of my heart would not give me away. We scrunched down low in our seats. I decided it would be safer if anyone passing by thought they were seeing an abandoned car rather than a car filled with frightened foreigners. And so while softly singing primary songs, and sitting just high enough in the seat to keep a watchful eye on the darkness ahead of me, we waited for Wes’ return.
And waited. And waited. And waited.
Part II—tomorrow. But I will tell you this—the rest of the story involves a car accident and the Mexican federal police.