How to get a van out of the mud in eleven hours

We arrived at night. Side by side we were accompanied by absolute darkness. In front of us we barely managed to glimpse a piece of the world illuminated by the beam of light projected by the headlights of the van. Later, the red pilot of our guide’s bike marked the route to follow. The road became a narrow strip of grated asphalt that traced the path to a muddy road.

We knew we should not pass. We knew it. We intuited it. But we passed anyway. And acting against what we thought and what we felt led to the worst traffic jam. We turned right and went down a small hill to end up parking the van in a trap of sand and water, only hidden by the grass that had grown around him. A trap that would end up engulfing, in a subtle way, the more than two tons of weight of our vehicle housing.

The next day we woke up with a radiant sun and went to breakfast to the cabin of our friend, Daniel. Traveler of vocation, this boy from Medellin opted to leave the city to move to a small house lost in one of the multiple paths of Santa Elena. Fed up with urban life, he currently shares space with another boy in the last house on the path of El Plan, which we reached by walking along a short but steep path surrounded by nature.

We spent a good part of the day talking with Daniel and weaving mandalas, the last hobbies we acquired in our journey through the town of Potrerito. In an almost inexplicable way, the rain did not appear after several rainy weeks. And the next day everything that had been reserved during the vigil fell. The shower was such that at one moment we heard a small explosion in the dining room. The storm left us with a smoldering modem and no internet connection.

We went back to sleep in the van with the intention of waking up early the next day. Taking advantage of the start of the weekend, we wanted to go to sell handicrafts to Santa Elena Park. But soon after starting, we became aware that we could not get out of that mud. The front wheels rolled steadily, sinking into the mud. Meanwhile, the rear wheels remained completely still. The four-wheel drive failed and the Saoneta refused to move forward. It would be the beginning of a long day. Very long.

Considering that we were completely stuck in the flat part of the terrain, I preferred not to think too much about the climb that awaited us. Simply, I went to find a machete, some stones and wood to lift the stuck wheel and try to give traction. Meanwhile, Marta met with some of the neighbors, a couple of farmers who lent themselves from the first moment to stretch us with their 4×4.

And we achieved it, not without difficulties, in the flat section. A couple of hours after starting the process we placed only two or three meters from the main road. That’s where the odyssey started. Despite having a 4×4 to tow us and a group of five people to push, the van simply sank and fell back on its front wheels. We advanced a few centimeters and one of the wheels entered the mud until it touched the shaft. We climbed a few inches more and we had to lift the two wheels to put rune under and try to continue.

We try everything. We tried for the first time the manual winch that we had not used for five years. But our farmer friend’s 4×4 was not heavy enough. And instead of moving our vehicle, it dragged that of our benefactor.

To finish complicating everything, when we were just one meter from our goal, we ran out of fuel.

Daniel volunteered to find a few gallons of diesel on his motorcycle and call his roommate, Juan Diego, who had already been helping us at the start of the day. He had a more powerful and heavy 4×4 than the previous one and would surely have less difficulty in giving the van the last push. Seeing that it would take a while, we decided to take some mates while we waited for it. It was two o’clock in the afternoon. We had been stuck for six hours and trying to get the Saioneta out of the mud.

Finally Juan Diego arrived. We had already lifted the two wheels of the van and we had placed wooden boards and the rune that another of the neighbors had lent us. We thought it would come out the first time. But when we stretched the wheels pushed the boards and the rune and the van stayed where it was. That’s when we decided to use the manual winch again. Millimeter by millimeter, centimeter by centimeter, we went up the Saioneta, which still refused to come out completely.

It started to get dark when we had practically on the road. It would be 6 in the afternoon. Everything was prepared for the final stretch. And, this time, the van left the mud to get into another muddy area. Such is the weight of the van that even on the road he had difficulty grasping traction. Finally, Juan Diego had to stretch us again to take us to the path of grated concrete. A total of eleven hours had passed. It was so much the time that we spent without traction that I was made even weird when the four wheels of the Saioneta rolled again at the same time and made the vehicle move towards where I wanted.

We end up tired, but happy. Incredibly happy for having recovered the van. For having felt once again the warmth of a people, the Colombian, who will never cease to amaze me for his sympathy and solidarity. And for having learned the lesson once and for all: Avoid acting against what you think and what you feel. If you are going to do something and your thought, your convictions and your heart tell you not to do it, turn back. You will avoid being blocked for hours, days or maybe months.

Thank you very much to all of you who have helped us in this process. Thank you for your support, for your energy and for helping us to learn a new and important lesson of this trip, the journey of life.

Una producción de MMVIATGES, productora audiovisual y multimedia

Furgo en ruta team

2 responses to “How to get a van out of the mud in eleven hours”

  1. Marchoso Benito

    ya me conozco yo eso de los atascos, y eso que la mía no es 4×4, pero mi pregunta es si funciona el cabrestante manual, pues mi hermano me regaló uno pero nunca lo he usado.
    Un truco que usan mucho en el desierto, es llenar esos sacos grandes que usan en los mercados rellenos de lentejas, arroz, etc. y una vez rellenos de arena, colocar bajo las ruedas, además se pueden llevar en la furgo sin ocupar casi espacio.
    Buen viaje.

  2. Pepe Yanes

    Hola amigos:
    ¡Vaya embarrada! Hay veces que caes en la trampa de la manera más tonta. Nosotros nos quedamos atascados en la arena en un camping de Senegal. Nos tuvieron que sacar con un 4×4. Hicimos el ridículo a base de bien.
    ¡Buena gente los colombianos que os ayudaron!
    Seguid bien

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