3 Lessons I Learned From the Most Terrifying Road Trip of My Life

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Last Updated on 1 year by Iva Ursano

I love road trips. Picture the excitement of a 5-year-old on Christmas morning and that’s how I am when someone mentions a road trip. I’m the first one out the door and ready to roll. Most road trips are balls-to-the-wall fun.

This one was terrifying. So much so, at one point I feared for my life. But I learned. A lot. I want to share with you 3 life lessons I learned from the most terrifying road trip of my life.

Grab your coffee…

Road trip day!

Well, don’t they all? You and your friend make a plan to go on a road trip. You have your destination picked out and have Google mapped the route.

All seems normal and standard as far as road trips go. This one was gonna be a short one. The town we chose was about 1 hour away on a motorcycle through the crazy roads of Guatemala. Our plan? Go there, stop and have lunch and come home for a nice Christmas Eve dinner.

Sounds like a fun day to me!

Neither one of us had been to this town so we were excited to check out yet another cool little town around the lake. We travel well together so we expected nothing but a good and enjoyable day.

Little did we know what lay ahead of us…

Could this be the road?

According to Google maps, “go straight here”. We came to a point in the road where the pavement stopped and it turned into a hard-packed sand road. Not uncommon here in Guatemala. A pickup truck was just coming out of this road so it seemed viable.

Off we went. Dave asked if I was ok and if I felt comfortable enough to continue. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary at that point. Let’s carry on. Part of me was whispering “Iva, I think danger lies ahead” but I passed that off as me just being a little scaredy cat.

I’m a warrior, right, who likes to look fear in the eye and say pooey on you.

Let’s do this. And we carried on, and I hung on to Dave a little tighter. I was leery.

Life lesson #1

Always listen to your gut instinct.

Driving along for what seemed like an eternity we hit our first obstacle. An extremely steep and harrowing hill. We decided it would be best for me to get off the bike and walk down the hill and for Dave to ride alone.

On one side of the hill was a 1000-foot drop-off, no guard rails, and keep in mind the road is still sand packed with loose stones (the road is clearly under construction as we passed a few parked dump trucks and other construction-type vehicles).

I slipped and slid down the hill but made it in one piece. I got back on the bike and we drove for another little way and hit another hill, just as steep and harrowing. Back off the bike, I went and back down the hill on foot, I went.

It was starting to get a little scarier for me. I soldiered on. At the end of the second hill, it dawned on us that we hadn’t brought water. It was starting to get hot. Not sweltering humid hot, but hot. I was beginning to get slightly uncomfortable and really wished I had something to drink.

Life Lesson #2

Always be prepared for road trips. Have water, emergency supplies, and a fully charged cell phone.

terrifying road trip hill #1Pin

Are we there yet?

As we carried on we hit two or three more hills like the last ones. Steep, long, scary with extreme drop-offs. The one good thing that kept us going was the fact that we could finally see the town we were heading for.

Way down in the valley, we saw it. It was so close. We kept on, him driving down the hills, me walking.

We finally made it down to what we assumed was the last of the worst. Were we wrong? We got to a point where there was a payloader (or whatever you wanna call this construction vehicle) and I went to go investigate further as suddenly it seemed like there was no more road.

And there wasn’t. The road ended right there. Done. That’s it. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200… You’re doomed.

In that split second I turned around to Dave in utter shock and disbelief and total defeat. I also looked back up the last hill I just slid down and suddenly realized that all those hills I just walked down I now had to walk back up them.

There was no way in hell Dave would have been able to get up those hills with me on the back of the bike.

And I cried. In that split second, my whole life flashed before my eyes. There was no way in a million years I was going to be able to walk back up those hills that I just slid down.

No way. I’ll surely die. For a second I thought to tell Dave to just leave me there and go home and get help or something. In that split second, I was the most scared I have ever been in my entire life.

I didn’t even know what to do at that point. We both knew we had to turn around and head back the way we came. We knew what lied ahead and it wasn’t pretty.

And we had no water…

We started back up the hills, Dave going ahead of me and shouting down at me that he had made it ok, take your time Iva, you can do it Iva. By the end of the second hill, I wasn’t sure how much longer I can go on.

We had stopped at the place where the trucks were parked and Dave found me a half bottle of water in one of the trucks. I didn’t care how old it was or what it tasted like, I needed water. I knew he did as well but he refused any of it.

There wasn’t much water and I had no idea how long we would be out there so I tried to ration as best I could. I kept insisting he have some but he continually turned it down.

terrifying road trip hills #3 and 4 ( I think)Pin

We should call for help

By the 3rd or 4th hill, we decided we should call for help. I couldn’t go on any longer. It was taking me forever to get up the hills as I had to stop continuously to catch my breath, slow down my heart, and give my legs a break. I felt like dying.

One of my biggest fears was that while Dave was gunning it back up the hills the bike would slide right off the hill. I was terrified for him. I was terrified for us.  

I reached out to a new friend I had made who I knew lived in the town we were originally heading to and I knew she would know where we were. She called an emergency for us and they dispatched a 4-wheel drive to come out and get us.

This was turning into the most terrifying road trip I have ever experienced.

Let’s go!!!

As exhausted as we both were we decided to conquer the next hill and wait at the top for the truck. When we got to the top we realized we weren’t too far off from where the road actually was normal before it turned into this chaotic clustered mess.

We carried on a bit further and finally, we were back on flat grounds. Hallelujah.

I was beaten down, parched, hot, and an emotional wreck but happy to know that we did it. We made it out. The whole time we remained calm, patient, and compassionate toward each other. I cried a few times and he held me tight. I felt such comfort in his arms. I knew he would never let anything harm me.

Life Lesson #3

In stressful situations, remain calm, ALWAYS!!

Though this whole trip turned into a nightmare part of me feels almost blessed to have experienced it. It was scary, life-threatening, and borderline dumb but I took on this challenge head-on and conquered it. Yay me!!! We came out unscathed, tired and hot but alive.

It really could have been so much worse.

Google maps, you suck.

Peace and Love


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