Pan American Trails | Part 1

The story of a solo tour over some of the world’s worst roads. A trip from St. Louis to Managuz in Nicaragua…

By Jose Porta, Photography by Jose Porta

A few days later an answer came from Mexico City about the gasoline. They were not interested.

I had to do something because my bankroll was very low, having suffered the biggest cut at the border.

So, I had a thousand postal cards printed with my picture, and I figured on giving them away in exchange for gasoline and other necessities. I was kind of bashful in showing them around at first but finally I worked up enough nerve and I got some people interested in them. Sure enough everybody wanted one but thinking that they were free they gave me nothing in exchange. It wasn’t such a smart idea after all.

I bought some gas and left town.

It had stopped raining but the roads were still wet and I had quite a time in getting to Saltillo where I inquired about the road to Torreon.

I was sent to Carneros, twenty miles south. There is where I first learned at my own expense that it is very bad business to inquire about the road. Everybody used to send me to a different direction and I never knew who to believe. Most people don’t know where a certain place is and still they insist upon showing you the way. I made the twenty miles to Carneros on a very bumpy and narrow road, so bumpy indeed that on one jump one saddle bag was torn clear off, falling on the road.

When I arrived at Cameros some kind soul told me that I should ride back eight miles to Aguanueva and from there take a road that would get me to Torreon. I rode back the eight miles and in Aguanueva I was told that I had to go back all the way to Saltillo from where a good road would take me to Torreon. By that time I was about ready to blow up.

Why couldn’t I go straight to Torreon from where I was without having to go back to Saltillo? Yes, I could, but there was no regular road and I would have to follow cow paths from ranch to ranch until I got there. It would be very easy for me to lose my way. I didn’t relish the idea of going back all the way to Saltillo so I decided to take to the cow paths.

Later on I wished I had gone to Saltillo. It was no fun finding my way thru those deserts, following some almost invisible tracks. The going was rough and tedious, and I was forever afraid of being on the wrong trail.

And to make thing worse towards evening I saw an enormous black cloud ahead of me. A few minutes later I was caught under a heavy storm.

In a few moments the whole soil was turned into mud, and mud of the most slippery kind. I couldn’t stop anywhere because there was no shelter in sight and the trails were fast becoming obliterated by the erosion of the water. Sliding and falling I kept going doggedly ahead.

Here was a heavy puddle of water which would flush the carburetor and stop the motor. There was a steep hill and the rear wheel would spin around refusing to carry me over the top. On and on I went until I saw the outline of a ranch silhouetted against the horizon.`

Pan-American trails by Jose Porta is a story full of adventure and the romance of travel. The author secured an unusually fine photographic record of his trip and many interesting pictures will appear with the successive installments during the next eight months in this magazine-Ed. Note.

By Jose Porta
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