Getting up early and with the sun at our back, we left Ciudad del Este and began our 5 hour trip back to Asunción. The majority of the road is a single lane highway with dogs and goats and pigs and chickens and lots of tethered cows grazing right along the side of the road. We had a good start on our day when suddenly we came to a dead stop with a line of cars ahead. Cars and trucks started lining up behind us as the minutes ticked by, turns out there had been an accident involving four vehicles; a couple of trucks, a bus and a poor motorcycle that got in the mix.
We were only 30 miles outside a town where we were going to stop, and I had to go to the bathroom. To our right there was a broken down small house with some men sitting outside and to the left of it an old abandoned house. I resisted at first, surely the traffic jam would sort itself out soon. But as the time wore on I realize I was going to have to do this. Raquel and I made our way around the back of the empty house and as I was checking out the overgrown area for rats, snakes, lizards or whatever, a couple of men walk by. Okay great, I’ll wait, then get ready, and a couple more men walk by. Wait again, hurry up, get out of there. Oh brother!
After an hour of sitting and waiting, cars start passing us on the left. Where do they think they are going? This is the only road that takes you back to Asunción and until you reach the first town 30 miles ahead, there are no cross streets even. We all have to go to the same place, these people are not following the rules! After having quite the discussion about values and honesty Mike decides to walk on up ahead to see what he can see or find out (as cars continue to pass on the left). About 30 minutes later Mike gets back in the car and says he is just going to go past some trucks and tuck back in between them where cars have left a spot. Realizing we could spend the rest of our natural lives in this line-up we start to justify our actions. We aren’t perfect, we all fail at keeping our values sometimes, if no one is following the rules, how can we just sit there? After all we have to get back to Asunción because Mike has a conference call set up to talk about values! 🙂 What at first was just a move to the next open space between trucks, we are now cheering Mike on, a little farther, just to the next open space. (Guess if everyone is jumping off the bridge, we might as well too 🙂
We pass truck after truck after truck, no cars, for a couple of miles! Finally we come to a stop behind all the other cars on the wrong side of the road, we are now totally blocking the lane for cars to come the other way. An ambulance passes on the shoulder, then a fire truck. Mike decides to walk on up ahead again to see what’s happening. There are now so many cars jammed up that the firemen have to walk to the scene. No wonder this is taking so long, the tow truck probably can’t even get to them to haul the vehicles off the road! It’s now been over two hours in this traffic jam. We are four cars abreast on this two-lane highway. As we sit there I start to wonder why the people are like this. Then I think if you are hungry and there is only a little, and you don’t grab a portion for yourself or for your family, you and your kids go hungry. When people are desperate they aren’t polite, they don’t wait their turn, they grab what they can get, whoever is the strongest, pushiest, or bravest survives. Over time this creates an attitude of only looking out for yourself and if you are brought up with this mindset, you can see why there is this crazy traffic jam. Or maybe it’s just impatience 🙂 Little by little we move forward. Four lanes have to squeeze back into the one lane. Now the big busses are in the mix, but when you let one of them in, 10 follow. What a crazy mess we were in the middle of. Finally it is all sorted out, and 3 hours later we are once again on our way. A little humbler, a little less judgemental, and a lot further ahead of where we would have been if we’d waiting our turn at the end of the line behind all those trucks!