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The town of Todos Santos floats above the clouds, positioned safely beyond that world of concrete, black bus smoke, and the bustling human activity back on earth in that almost border town we call Huehuetenango. And so we climb. As the sun surfaces and kisses the terracería red, we’ve gone off road and all we can see amid the dust clouds are human shadows elongated along the side.
This is what trucks are made for, not a four cylinder wannabe SUV like ours, but six or eight cylinder growling beasts that eat the road beneath wide rubber treads and merciless traction. We keep moving upward, past a low-rider with scorpion decals stuck on the side doors like temporary tattoos. The plants know something we don’t know: somehow they grow out of hard rocks without any space of green wasted while the cactus defiantly sticks out its thorns against this moon-like surface. Small childrens’ faces peek out from the farm houses dotted along the barren, flat expanse at the top of this highland. Men wear traditional red and white-striped pants and there is a swagger of comfort and fullness in their every move as they haul pounds of wood, dirt, tools and water to their homes. They’ve been here a long time and we’re just visiting- that’s obvious.
We’ve come to train some young radio journalists and have grand ideas about staying overnight and living a little rustic for the night. After an unsuccessful to attempt to scale an unbelievably steep hill that supposedly leads to a hotel, we shamefully return to the stern grimaces of the towns folk staring at us as we reverse our way down. We drive about three miles on another steep grade, lured by colorfully painted houses. Alas, our vehicle surrenders to the sheer physics of the situation, and Brad is forced to make a 10 or 12-point turn to get us back down the hill. It’s painfully obvious at this point that “rustic” has just kicked our ass.
15 minutes later a large oil rig gets stuck in a ditch in front of us, and not a single car can go up or down the mountain for miles. But the men of Todos Santos are a hearty lot, and their solution was to remove the guard rail and create a new lane! Hey, who really needs guard rails on a 8000 ft. elevation mountain road anyway?
The real test was when we crossed with a little help from our friends:
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