Forget It Pills? (by some lake, Guatemala)

Is there such a thing as a “forget it pill?”  Something I can take to make sure I won’t remember this day?  Does whiskey work after the fact?  Today is a day I would just as soon forget – but I doubt I’ll do so any day soon.

Today actually started last night.  For some reason, our room never cooled down like it had the previous two nights, so all four of us lay there in bed sweating like pigs.  Daryl made hourly forays to the bathroom with diarrhea.  Davy was the only one who slept.

So this morning rolled around and we sprang into action – we were determined to move on after three days in Melchor.  Davy was completely better, and Daryl felt fine – other than frequent dashes to the bathroom.  Our decision to move had come about as a group consensus – three days in a hotel with no water was too much.  No water for showers.  No water for laundry.  No water to wash dishes.  Enough was enough.  I had rounded up enough water last night to get dishes washed and clothes were at least wearable – that would have to do until we made it 100 km into Flores.

At 5:00 in the morning I faced a dilemma – what to do with the four pairs of bike shorts Daryl had soiled during the night?  Cram them in a plastic bag and wash them in a couple days?  But what happens if he has trouble on the journey?  It was clear I needed to round up more water.

By 5:45 I had packed my bike, strapped four pairs of clean, but sopping wet, bike shorts on the back and we set off.

Oops!  Not quite.  Daryl didn’t make it one more time…

I unpacked my trailer, got out a clean pair of bike shorts, rounded up another bucketful of water, strapped one more pair of shorts on my bike – and we were off!

We had been amply warned of the first 25 km of our journey.  A dirt road with dust – lots of dust.  The road was decent as far as dirt roads go, but it was still slow going.  The main problem, however, was the dust.  Each truck that passed sent thick, soupy clouds of dust billowing into the air which limited visibility to about fifteen feet at times.

We were totally covered with dust after 25 km on the dirt road!

Occasionally we were constricted to a path about 10 inches wide on the side of the construction.
Occasionally we were constricted to a path about 10 inches wide on the side of the construction!

And all that dust came back down eventually – on our sweaty bodies and on the five pairs of bike shorts strapped onto my bike.  If you’ve ever been a kid, you’ll know that when you mix dirt with water, you get mud.  Mud covered our bodies from head to toe.  Sweat dripped down my legs forming little rivulets in the thickening layers of grime.  And Daryl’s bike shorts were far from being clean anymore.

But even so, all was well until we approached the final climb to the pavement.

“Daddy!” Daryl cried just as we hit the incline.  “Stop!”

John hit the brakes.  Daryl jumped off and dropped his drawers.

A few seconds later, we were on our way.

“Daddy!”  Daryl cried again.  “I’ve got a bloody nose!”

John hit the brakes.  Daryl jumped off and lay down in the dust to stop the flow of blood.

A few minutes later we were underway again.  But then the road started climbing in earnest.   I got off to walk.  Then Davy started walking.  Eventually, John realized he couldn’t make it up either.  He started walking too.

“Push, Daryl!” John shouted.  “I can’t do this by myself!”

Daryl pushed as hard as he could.

“The bike’s going backward!  Push!”

John and Daryl struggled with the tandem, while I slowly made headway up the hill.  I started counting steps – forcing myself to take 25 steps before stopping for a breather.  My shoulders ached.  My legs were trembling.  I feared I would never make it to the top.

“Davy – come help me,” John instructed.  “Daryl’s not strong enough, and I can’t get this bike up by myself.”

Davy headed over to the tandem, and Daryl attempted to push Davy’s bike.  Daryl and I crawled up the hill, stopping every 15 feet to rest.

“Put the bike down, Daryl,” I told him finally.  “Just put it on the side of the road and come help me push.”

Daryl and I played a bizarre sort of leapfrog getting up the hill.  The two of us pushed my bike 30 or 40 feet.  Then Daryl held my bike in place while I went back down to get Davy’s bike and take it 30 feet ahead.  Both of us push mine… I get Davy’s… Both push mine… I get Davy’s…  Eventually John came back down and took Davy’s bike, leaving Daryl and me to focus on mine.

The last two km of dirt road was very steep and we all had to push the bikes.

Daryl and I played leapfrog to get our bikes up to the top.

By the time we reached the top, all four of us were wiped out.  It was hotter than blazes – our hottest day yet by far – and we were exhausted.  The good news was that we had finally reached pavement.  We pushed on.

Pavement never looked so good!

A few kilometers later, we managed to find a small village and took refuge in a store for the afternoon.  It had taken us six hours to make 40 km, and there was no way we could ride in the heat of the day.  We hung out and drank buckets of water and soda, trying to replenish what we had lost in the morning.

At 4:30 we hit the road again – or tried to anyway.  Just as we climbed on our bikes, Daryl got another bloody nose.

“You guys go on ahead,” John told us.  “I’ll take care of Daryl and catch up.”

Davy and I rode away.

“Mom!” Davy called out a while later.  “I just messed my pants!”

Oh, cripes.  I pulled out one of the now-dry, mud-caked pairs of bike shorts and cleaned them off the best I could, then Davy changed by the side of the road.

Just as we were readying to take off, John and Daryl pulled up.

“We’re going to have to get Daryl’s nose cauterized,” John said.  “He’s had three bloody noses since you guys left!”

And so it was that we limped into a small village by some lake in northern Guatemala after cycling a mere 60 kilometers – absolutely, completely, totally exhausted.

The good news is that we are camped near a lovely lake and were able to take a bath to get the mud off our bodies before going to sleep.  I sincerely hope all of us sleep well tonight – God knows we need it!

Kilometers today:  61
Kilometers to date:  12306

Even as exhausted as I was, I had to laugh at the way they used this stove – notice the ashes from the fire on top?
Even as exhausted as I was, I had to laugh at the way they used this stove - notice the ashes from the fire on top?

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

Connect with us!

We love to get to know new people. Send us a message!


  1. An Interview with Family On Bikes | ADVENTUREinPROGRESS - April 17, 2009

    […] We had that situation not long ago – on our first day of cycling in Guatemala. We had 23 km of dirt road and it was awful! The road was covered with a thick layer of loose dust and each truck that passed sent massive clouds of soupy dust into the air. It was hot, and all that dust mingled with the sweat on our bodies to cover us with mud. And then we reached a massive 2-km climb. All four of us had to walk up. I wrote about that day here. […]

  2. Is it Fun? - January 4, 2011

    […] how long do we wait?  There have been plenty of days that weren’t fun.  The day in Guatemala when both kids had diarrhea and we were pushing our bikes up an outrageously steep, dusty hill and […]

  3. Kids on bikes? Yes, they can! | Bicycling with Children - September 24, 2011

    […] learn important life lessons that will carry them through life.  They learn to persevere through hardships – knowing they will come out victorious on the other side.  They learn there are times when only […]

Leave a Reply