on the third of February, the Meteorology Service predicted good weather for the next few days. The next night, we had already begun our trip to the beach. In
the morning, the passengers bought supplies and ran their final errands. On their
side, Leo and his assistants endeavored to get everything to turn out smoothly. Among
other errands, they confirmed with the contact that would take the yola to Punta Cana.
From that beach, located on the East end of the island, and at just ninety
miles from Mayaguez, we would departure this time. But our destination was not Mayaguez; Leo had told us:
---We'll go to Cabo Rojo, to the south of Mayaguez, because
Mayaguez, the same as Aguada, Rincon and the other close places are very safeguarded by the police and Coast Guard of Puerto
The yola was hidden in some bushes, close to the city, near
the East road that headed to San Pedro de Macoris. It had been there since the
previous trip. We went for it with a big truck.
It took us an hour to get the yola into it. We placed it upside down and
covered it with a big tarp in order to hide it from those who would see the truck on its way to the beach. We were about forty men; so, without wasting any time, we loaded ourselves into the bed of the truck, one
by one. Every one tried to get comfortable on the floor of the truck. One of the men lighted the area with a flash light.
Jose and Frank were already on their way in the minibus. They were transporting the women, the fuel and two outboard motors to be used in the
yola: one was forty horse power, and the other twenty five. At midnight, the
truck caught up with the minibus waiting on one side of the road. The drivers
of both vehicles met and dialogued a bit, then, the minibus went on its way. The truck followed it close behind.
To decrease the possibilities of being discovered on our way
to Punta Cana, the organizers, just as planned, took an old road that, at least
at that hour, was deserted. This
road was taken as a precaution, knowing that it would take longer to get to the beach.
It was a difficult road, with no lights, and with numerous potholes. The
vehicles were driven slowly, in order not to harm the yola. The hard wooden floor
of the truck allowed us to feel the old pocketed road. Through the slats
of wood that formed the sides of the bed of the truck, the fresh air of the morning came in and brought with it the fragrance
of the trees in the area. I, aided by the light of the truck, scanned the landscape
intending to see something new. After a little more than an hour of travel, the
truck stopped. I could see water through the sides of the truck. After a minute or two, Pedro, from the ground shouted:
---Hey, all of you, get out so that you can help. We've got problems.
We got out of the truck and saw a river in front of us. Its muddy water flowed slowly, caressed by the branches of the great number of leafy
trees that knelt down at its bank, and appeared to drink. The road stopped at
the river and, on the other side, continued on its way. Because there was no bridge, the few vehicles that used this road had to cross though the river directly. But, because of the rain of several days prior to this morning, the river had more
water than usual.
---This is the Chavon River. Bad luck for us! It is too full
today ---lamented Pedro as he pointed to the minibus half-way sunk in the water.
---We have to cross through here ---Leo added---; there is no other road near but this one; if we were to go back to take the other road,
the sun would be up and we'd be arrested without even getting to the beach.
The minibus had been the first one to try to cross the river. But, at ten meters beyond the shore, almost half the vehicle was sunk in the water
in spite of the attempts of the driver to accelerate through it.
The women got out of the minibus. The men took their shoes off to get in the river. There was
a lot of mud and, although the water had raised and already covered the motor, as we pushed it, the vehicle started to move. It took us a quarter of an hour to get the minibus to the other side. Nevertheless, the truck crossed the river without any trouble and without our help. On the other side, the road was smooth and spacious. Those
who knew a bit of mechanics began to try to start the minibus motor. They dried
the carburetor but the vehicle did not start. Then, we all pushed it repeatedly, but nothing. After a while, one passenger said:
---It's going to get light out soon; if we don't get into the
sea before it clears up, this trip will be ruined too.
---I have an idea! -said another passenger. And in an instant he brought a rope and added:
Let's tie the minibus and have the truck pull it up to the
---Our problem is solved! ---said a woman. But Leo, alarmed,
---No, no, no! That would draw too much attention! You'd better take everything out of the minibus and put it into the truck and we'll all get in it. That's what'll have to be done. Do it,
and do it fast ---Leo insisted, clapping his hands as he often did.
We loaded the motors, the gasoline...- and in the space that
was left, we all slid in. Then, like packed sardines, we continued on our way
on the road, which was becoming a bit more tolerable. We left the minibus on
one side of the road. Jose would have to repair it and return it to the rent-a--car.