Pan-American Trails part 3

The story of a long solo travel tour through Mexico to Central America

By Jose Porta, Photography by Jose Porta

My motor was performing at its best. With a steady purr it pulled up the steepest hills. All went smooth until I hit the first rock and from then on it was a game of hit and jump. The loose stones under my wheels would throw me all over the road. With the motor in low and the throttle wide open I had to take the hills at full speed as I couldn’t afford to kill the motor half way up.

With a little judgment and good luck I usually managed to reach the top, but it was not always so. I couldn’t think of steering the motorcycle on that road; I had no say in the matter whatsoever. All I could do was to sit on the saddle and turn on the juice and trust to luck. It was fortunate for me that I never missed the road. I fell hard and often, but I always fell on the road or against the side of the mountains. I kept away from the edge all I could. A steep hill, a few rocks, a high jump and there we were, crashing to the, ground with a sickening thud. At every fall I had to drag the motor about, coast down the hill and start all over again with greater speed and more determination.

For hours I wrestled with that motorcycle trying hard to keep her up while she was doing her best to go down. And then I saw at the bottom of a ravine a machine all smashed up against the rocks. A few miles further on I saw another one, in the same pitiful condition, and then that got to be a common sight. They were silent proofs of the many tragedies that had befallen some inexperienced or reckless drivers who had attempted to cross that treacherous and dangerous pass

The day was coming to a close and I was still climbing hills. Luck had been with me until I got my leg smashed against a rock with the weight of the motorcycle on it. For awhile I was down, unable to free myself, but finally I got up and after a little rest I got started again. It was painful going at first but, following a few forced kicks to the rocks on the road, my sore limb was soon all right again.

More hills to climb and a few more spills, and finally the sun set below the horizon. I pushed on, hoping to find a ranch, but it grew darker with nothing in sight. I still drove until I could see no more, then I spread my blankets under the stars and went to sleep.

I woke up at dawn and tried to get up, but I soon found out that my sore leg weighed a ton. It had swollen to twice its size and it couldn’t bear my weight. Still I couldn’t stay there and I had to go ahead. With a little difficulty I got the motor started. From then on the road was mostly down hill, nevertheless I had to take it easy as my leg bothered me a lot. It was probably at noon when I finally sighted a ranch, the first sign of life since I had started the crossing of the Pulpit Pass.

Here at last I would find rest and food, since I couldn’t possibly go much further with a leg as sore as mine.

I stopped in front of the first house and I knocked at the door.

“Who is there?” grumbled a voice from the inside.

“It’s a stranger,” I answered, “and I want some food.”

“No hay! (There isn’t any!)” was the curt reply.

“But I have money and I want to buy food.”

“No hay!” Again the same answer.

What on earth was the meaning of this? Was it possible that they would refuse to sell me food when they knew that there wasn’t another house for twenty or thirty miles around?

I still persisted in my request and a woman finally came to the door. But it didn’t do me any good. She just told me to go away.

By Jose Porta
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