I am thinking of the amber stone and how I carried on from that point in Mexico, to one of the greatest adventures of my life. This is MY story and it bears telling. What I experienced in those three weeks for action and adventure was probably what a normal person would cram into their lifetime.
I decided I would do Guatemala, wild, precarious and risky.. exactly how I was feeling at that point. We arrived at the border near Belize City and remember having this thought, are you sure that you want to cross? All I knew was, I did not want to go home. I proceeded with no problems and we boarded back onto our bus and carried on. The people were mesmermizing, they are smaller even than the Mayans and to see these beautiful indigenous so proudly wearing their traditional dress was like watching rainbows bouncing everywhere on the ground. I don’t think I ever saw one of them NOT smile with dazzling white teeth at me the whole time I was here.
The mountains were surprising, we were literally above the clouds. The older bus I was in and its capacity for getting us to the top of each peak was very strained and I wondered how good the brakes were. We would soon find out! I think the trucks and odd bus that were already parked on the side of the road with obvious problems answered that question for me. I was the only woman travelling alone and one with redhair was a real novelty. I had so much interest and attention from everyone it was a little overwhelming at first but I got used to it. The bus which was packed with indigenous, warmed up to me instantly when two small children crawled up on my lap and just wanted to play with my hair. They braided it, rolled it and I don’t know what else. It was calming for me to have these little ones sitting on top of me.
I have no recollection really of what happened next except I remember hanging onto the girls as the bus careened off a mountainside when the brakes failed. It was the strangest feeling, I thought of my kids and how much I loved them and knew they would never know what happened to me if I didn’t get out of this alive. My head kept hitting the glass and I was using myself as a cushion for the children. One bang on the glass with their little heads would of knocked them unconscious. The bus I found out later had rolled three times and I still to this day cannot remember that. When everything stopped moving and pounding me from every direction it seemed, I was laying on my back with legs bent and the roof of the bus was almost on top of me, I could see metal just inches from my face. There was glass everywhere and I was scared to move, I didn’t know if the children were dead or if I was paralyzed. It was one of those moments you never want to have in a lifetime and you are truly suspended from reality.
Seconds that felt like minutes, then hours and I could feel the little ones start moving and I was just grateful they were okay and now to see if I could move my toes. Everything seemed to be working and by this time there were men yelling and working themselves to the section of the bus that just seemed to of collapsed, the part where I was laying. One of the men grabbed me under the shoulders and pulled me to the part that wasn’t so damaged and then grabbed the two little girls. I heard a woman screaming outside and when they took the children out she stopped, so I knew in the back of my mind it was the Mother and just thanked God she was alive too.
They carried me out to the grass still in shock, they were talking to me, slapping my face gently and all I could think of as I lay there looking up at the night sky was that it looked like dazzled velvet and now I knew what the expression meant, by looking at the stars, it’s like looking at your past. I have never seen a sky as beautiful ever again. It felt as though you could reach up and touch them and I think for a moment I did. Taking bearings of everyone around me and myself I made an effort to sit up. It hurt badly but could tell I was not seriously injured. I stood up and a family came over and helped me to their van and placed me in the back seat. Luckily my packsack had been trapped under my seat and someone kindly handed it to me.
The family got in and we drove off, they were excitedly talking to me and using their hands, understanding some but not all. I really didn’t care, my senses were dulled, felt grateful to be alive and this was just the beginning, a random quote ran through my mind. ..“Life is either a great adventure or nothing”…
I didn’t look back at the bus..
copyright Es-tee Miller