• Chiko-MandalAmor

A border-crossing adventure in Central America

Updated: Oct 11, 2019

... I'm running on the highway in company of my dog Lana with a handful of salty chips in one hand, a cheap lantern in the other and two backpacks carrying inside my gypsy life for the last four months of travels in Central America. The roads are blocked with trailers parked in diagonal, tons of them parked one after the other as small fires by the side of the roads are burning. All of that while I spot upset drivers with machetes and wood sticks in hand standing along the highway...... "Wtf is going on?" I ask to myself, as I am rushing to get to the Mexican border by foot, trying to catch a plane in less than two hours to Mexico City after leaving behind the cab that was supposed to take me there. Sometimes, the essence of your journey, lies at the last piece of a story that resumes the entire chapter of your last trip, just before going back " Home ". And this is how the end of the chapter started... After spending some time at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, a beautiful place where the Mayans believed, was the birthplace of life itself millennial of years ago, I booked a flight to Mexico City from Tapachula airport 'cause it was suuuuper cheap and got a privet taxi that would take me there for not too bad $ all the way from the lake. So... I meet my driver at 1pm sharp and we walk through the feria towards the car as we speak, realizing that he does not has a passport, neither the right paperwork of the car to be able to take me across the border (Because Tapachula airport lies in Mexican ground); 2 things that I SPECIFICALLY asked before booking the trip to the airport across the border. " A driver that will take me all the way to the Tapachula airport "- I said to the travel agent, and they replied: "Yes, we will take you there"..... Well, surprise bitches ! I carry on anyway as I paid for the trip already and my flight is in 8 hours so I ask him if he know which route to take to get as close as possible to the airport and he agrees with a head sign giving me the impression of being not too sure about it... Hmmm... Fuck it.... I ask him to wait and I head back to town to get service and load in Google maps the route.

By the time we start the trip I'm already 30m late, but no worries, it is a 4h drive and we have almost 7h o get to the airport so, plenty of time and well, what can possibly go wrong right ? He explains to me that he cannot cross me over but that he will contact some one that will take me to the airport on the other side on the companies expenses. That actually sounds good to me, he seems to be so sure about it. As we start driving, 10m after some locals decide to close the ONLY road that takes you out of the city because "They are angry with the government... Took 20m to convince them to move. They let us pass and 10m after there is a second one, but the driver knew them so they let us pass and as we drive away from the downhills of San Marcos and Lake Atitlan I take a look back to see them parking back the van on a diagonal, blocking once more, the road to the rest of the people trying to get out the city..... By the time we hit the road, I already lost 1h. But no worries right? What else can go wrong? I still have time to get to the airport across the border... Or at least, that's what I thought. We drive for about 4h, following the road that he knows, is the fastest in order to take me to the border. We start seeing trailers after trailers parked on the right lane, in which we're all supposed to be driving, tooooons of them just parked. We drive for about 20m until we get to a point were we find each other on a conjunction where the road is simply blocked. After 20m of stillness I get out of the car as I see my driver giving direction to the cars in front and I ask one of the drivers of one of the parked trailers how long has he been in there without moving... He answers to me he's been there since 4am... It is almost 7pm. I'm starting to freak out... I have 2h and a half to get to the freaking airport and we're still 1h away of driving.

Somehow, the cars move and we jump like puppies on mud inside the car as we sprint on the hallway that it is opening for us. After being blocked again, taking a side road, asking pedestrians for directions and getting lost, we find back the highway and surprisingly is almost empty with still, tons of trailers parked on the side of the road. I must have count at least a hundred. And finally, we get to a point like in those apocalyptic movies; the road ends with a huge trailer parked in diagonal, blocking the road, with fires by the side, trees and tires and rocks and all kinds of stuff on the highway obstructing any kind of space to go trough. Not even the TukTuks (Small cabs) are able to pass by. I’m like : “Fuck me ! Seriously... “WTF ?!”. I get out of the car and I tell the driver, "Let me go see wassup beyond this apocalyptic barricade", and I start walking towards the trailer. I go pass it as I get looks and whistles from the drivers and other dudes with machetes and sticks in their hands as I walk trough. Then, I walk for about 5m and I see the Mission Freaking Impossible that it is to even try to drive through that mad scene. For real... I'm on a Freaking movie ! Aaaaand this is not even the best part of it ! So wait..... Shit is just about to go down !!! I stop for a sec, watching this scene of mad drivers and trailers parked on and on until what it looks like to be the freaking infinity and I see a woman walking towards me. I come to talk to her and I ask her from where is that she is coming from; she says she has been walking for 45m and that at the other side of all that shitstorm there are Tuk-Tuks that can drive me to the border. I look at my phone and I see I have exactly 1h and 45m to get to the airport. Tick-Tock MOTHERFUCKERS ! I come back to the car and I'm like : "Well, if this old lady has been walking for 45m to where some Tuk Tuks are... I can prob make it in 20". So, I go back to the car, grab my backpacks, my salty chips, Lana and start running towards the Madness like freaking Forest Gump! As I pass by, people only pay attention to Lana instead to this white fellow with 2 huge backpacks on his shoulders so fortunately, nobody gives me any trouble. But the conflict and stress was so strong on the atmosphere that I could almost taste it on the sweat of my forehead. I walk for about 45m (That grandma turned to walk really fast, damn!) until I get to another blockage where there is a dude chilling on his motorcycle/tuktuk/tricicle...? I don't even know how to call this motorcycle-Tuk-Tuk-hybrid on wheels but I talk to him and convince him to take me and Lana to whatever there is transport available. We jump in as he hands me his phone so I can light up the road with the flashlight as we get to the "Other side". And believe it or not... Right where the last barricade is, there is a huge fat guy with a gladiator spear in one hand and a freaking torch in the other. "I'm in a fucking movie". Like "For real!". ...and just if you're wondering... Yes, a flaming torch and a gladiator spear made out of rusty metal and some other shit ...! A spear and a freaking TORCH !!! Gladiator style, full ON ‘cause there is no lights around, everything is just dark, is freaking darkness out there ! So turns out that this Java the freaking Hut from the Guatemalan Olympus is the "Gate keeper" or better said, the "Apocalyptic Barrier Keeper". So he looks at me from far away with not a very nice look and tells me with his head to approach... I come and talk to him as he holds his torch in one hand and the spear in another... And well... After 30sec he let me and Lana pass whiteout even hesitating 'case, he loves Dogs he says lol So.... I'm finally at the other side of this mess and I see vans, but the vans do not go to the border and as I am being told, the border is still about 7km away....... Godaaaamn !!! I don't know wtf else to do... I see the time again and I have 1h to get to the airport, sharp ! ...1h ! I look around and I see a guy sitting on his motorcycle and I'm like: "Fuck it !". I go to him and tell him in the must humble and desperate ways, almost acting until the point of crying... ( I want to thank to my acting teacher ).

"Bro, help me out, pleaaaase !!! I'll pay you 100Q if you take me to the border !!!

He looks at me, looks at Lana... Looks back at me... Looks back at Lana.

Then looks back at me again !!!

And he says... Indifferently : "Ok". So he takes my big ass bag with him on the front, I grab Lana and I sit her being him as I sit behind Lana with my huge backpack on my shoulders on a freaking motorcycle, and we take OFF !!! Btw... Lana is NOT a small dog; she is a 65 pounds Catahoula Leopard Dog, so go figure the scene ! Lana enjoys the hole ride as if she has done it before while I'm freaking out trying not to fall off the bike in every bump and hole that are on the road... Cheessssssssuuussss !!! He look's back at me after about 7m and tell's me that he's gonna take me to the Mexican border control straight but to be able to do that, he has to avoid the Guatemalan control by taking a "Privet road". Turns out to be a Hidden road for people that want to "Skip" Guatemalan border control and get straight to the Mexican costume border and we miraculously make it. Lana and I get off the bike and ... As crazy as it sounds, I see hundreds of undocumented people literally living inside the Mexican border, with nothing more than blankets and boxes and clothes just there, waiting. It is quite the scene... Hundreds of them. And with a mesmerizing look, I walk through that scene after showing my passport and... No one pays attention to me really... I walked through it like if it was my home. Well... Basically it is 'cause I'm Mexican, but they don't even care about bringing a dog with me from Guatemala... They don't ask for any kind of paperwork or medical certificates and in 2m, I'm in. But then I see the clock... I have 30m to get to the airport! Tick the Fucking Tuck yo ! I start walking, asking around if there are any cabs, or transport and a taxi driver tells me that the Airport is pretty far away, that is about USD$100 !!! And I'm like... Dude... GTFOH ! I find another guy, he takes me an Lanita for 400 pesos but then he tells me that the airport is 45m away... So I ask him: " How fast can you drive, bro ? " So noooooooooow.... I'm going from freaking Mad Max to insane Fast and the Furious !!! We jump in and Menang !!! I see the clock... I.... We.... Have 25m to get there ! Road is clear, no traffic, no trailers, no motherfucking barriers or apocalyptic guatemalan gladiator dudes with torches and shit, ALL CLEAAAAAAAAR, YUUUUSSSS !!! But then... Theeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen... I look at the clock on his car and I'm like... " Wait a sec ". " What time is it ? " I ask. He's like : " 8:45pm ". I look at mine and it says " 7:45pm". " 7...45... PM ?! " ... ...Fuck me dead... In Mexico is 1 hour more than Guatemala ! And my flight is at 9pm... So... ... ... I surrender Done... Missed the flight... ...Didn't make it NADA

...Game fucking over Life wins... ... Whatever. ... We get to the airport and I, now defeated and at the same time relieved that I don't have to rush and fight against time anymore, show up with my looser face at the counter of the airline: "Hey guys... I missed my plane ". The people at the counter look at me, they look at each other, they look back at me and I’m like .... " What's going on dudes? ". And they say.... " You’re 45m late you know that ? " ......" Oh Reaaaaaaaaaaaally....? " (Like if I didn't know). " Yes but... The plane is still here ". " SAY WHAAAAAAAT?!?!?! " So... Short story long: The plane had a tire issue and they had to change it, so it took about 1h and a half to do it and so thank to that technical issue... I freaking, MADE IT !!! But, from my perspective, life just wanted me to struggle one last time before wrapping it out with a strenuous and stressful "Final" with the kind of action and suspense only movies are made of. Thank you life, I love your sense of depravation. Cannot wait for my next adventure with you! With apocalyptic love, D.

San Marcos, Lake Atitlán.

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©2018 by Diego Rodarte Amor