Saturday, September 22, 2012

Car Accident and La Ruta

Last Friday, I was coming home from work, so excited because it was raining. After so much time in Arizona I have become obsessed with rain because it was such a rarity. I was driving very carefully. Gordo had just called me to wish me a safe trip home and remind me that our back tires were worn down and to be careful driving in the rain. The road I take home is Montana and is the main road that connects downtown El Paso to the East Side. There is tons of traffic, especially during rush hour. It was 5:15 and I know I was going 40 miles per hour. I was at the part of Montana where it slopes down slightly, just after Paisano. The speed limit is 40 mph and there is always a police car staked out in that area, pulling people over just before Trowbridge. Because of the decline, I have to hit the brakes to make sure I am at or under the limit. I am 100% positive that I was going 40 mph and was a good distance away from the car in front of me. It was a moving van. A Penske moving van, but the Penske logo had been painted over with yellow paint and had temporary plates. The truck slammed on its brakes to turn left. That intersection is dangerous because Trowbridge comes in at a diagonal and there is no turn lane from Montana. It is such an awkward intersection that upon telling this story, several of my friends asked me if it is even legal to turn left there.

The truck slammed on its brakes and I quickly looked to my right rear-view mirror and saw that I had space before swerving to the right to avoid a collision. I honked my horn furiously at the moving van just before my truck began to hydroplane through the intersection, across 3 lanes of traffic, over a median, and across the lanes of oncoming traffic before it did a 180 and slammed into the curb. At this point my truck tilted to the side, so much so that I looked to the right and saw the sidewalk, assuming it would flip. Gracias a Dios, it ended up slamming back down on four tires. It took me about 10 minutes at that point to even get out of the car. I waited as traffic passed for what felt like forever before I had a chance to even get out of the car. I was shaking as I called my husband to tell him that I had had an accident. Of course he was freaking out. Knowing that I was on the other side of the border and he couldn’t come to my aid, he of course felt instantly desperate and hopeless. Next I called the police and then my insurance company.

I still can’t believe that in this intersection, at this time of day, I didn’t hit anyone. I can’t even believe that I didn’t flip my SUV going over that median, but even more so I can’t get over the fact that I didn’t hit any of the oncoming traffic. God was with me that day and I was being watched over. Clearly there is some sort of purpose for me (beyond drinking brandy and eating Cheetos) that I have yet to address.

Luckily my friend Elizabeth happened to be driving home a friend and took a different route from the office leading her to see me on the side of the road. When she first saw me, she thought I had just been pulled over. Thankfully there was no damage done to the body of my truck. The rear axle cracked in half and the middle console is a mess because I’m an idiot and wasn’t wearing my seatbelt. Looking at the driver’s side, you would never know there had been an accident. As she drove by she just thought I had been pulled over. The only thing that tipped her off was that my truck was facing the wrong direction (not towards the bridge.) Luckily she called me and I had a chance to explain what had happened. She parked her car down the road and walked over to me. I know I’ve said this a million times but I am so thankful that I have met the women I know here in Juarez because they are such good friends to me. I have a lot of expat friends who don’t have that luxury. She stayed with me until the tow truck came and was sweet enough to take me home that night.

Injury wise, I got out of there without a scratch. I had a big bump on my head, bruised thighs and arms and some pain in my hip and neck but considering the circumstances, I am beyond lucky. By now the pain is mostly gone with the exception of my neck when I lie down or sit up. I am so thankful that I can even be writing this blog because I know I should probably be in a lot worse shape. I did have full coverage on my truck so I really only have to worry about the deductible which is a blessing because there is no way we could financially replace our car at this time. The biggest issue has been waiting for the repairs. With no other options, I have had to ask my girlfriends for rides and they have been beyond gracious with their time and gasoline. I will be forever appreciative of their help. I am hoping to have my truck back by the end of the week.

In the meantime we are just hanging out here at the house in the evenings and on the weekends without a vehicle. Today I finally took my first “route bus” trip.  It was pretty interesting. We went to the grocery store. You know, as an American, I really do overlook the little things in life. When we first got here I didn’t entirely appreciate the washing machine. There are so many people in this world wash their clothes by hand but I never really thought about it. There are a lot of things we take for granted in America. Cars or washing machines or dishwashers are things we really overlook in the US and I never really stopped to think about it. These were simple things and for most of my life I kind of considered them to be rights as opposed to privileges. It’s just an eye opener and of course humbling, as is my entire experience here in Mexico.

It is one thing to ask for a ride to work but asking for any other reason just seems unnecessary to me. The bus schedule in Juarez and El Paso do not function in a way that allows me to make it to work in time but it certainly serves it’s purpose for weekend errands. Today we took a trip to Soriana which is the local mega-grocery store. After we made our purchases, we carried our grocery bags over the “puente pateonal” which is like a bridge/walkway that has been built over Tecnologico which is a major roadway in Juarez. By this time Ray was seriously annoyed with me and all of my comments and observations that he really looked like he just wanted to jump off of the bridge. Luckily, it was build with rejas on the top to ward off any suicide attempts and save annoyed spouses.

After the bridge we only had to walk about a mile to the bus stop. We didn’t really have to walk that far because there is a bus that picks you up right outside of the store, but we didn’t want to have to take 2 buses. Each bus ride costs 6 pesos which is just under 47 cents right now in US dollars. When I say 47 cents in English I really feel ridiculous but when I say 6 pesos in Spanish I feel like that is a significant amount of money. Is that weird? We didn’t want to pay an extra 12 pesos for less than a mile so we did a little more walking. We barely made it to the bus stop in time and actually had to run a little. I’m sure everyone who knows me personally is laughing at this point…

That bus took us into our neighborhood and dropped us off just about a quarter mile from our house. It was my first trip on “La Ruta.” My husband takes these buses everywhere, bless his heart. He goes and pays our utility bills on the route bus and takes 3 routes in order to get to the bank where we pay our rent on the 10th every month. He even visits friends on the bus; it’s how he gets around. It’s how everyone who doesn’t have a vehicle gets around in Juarez and I definitely take my truck for granted. I am so thankful to even have transportation that is so convenient and simple. He has told me tons of stories about the route buses here and the drivers are pretty notorious for getting in horrible accidents so I was pretty nervous before we got on board.

I’m pretty sure the bus driver today was deaf. He had a hearing aid in both ears and there were a couple occasions where people got on the bus and didn’t even pay. I’m not really sure what that was all about. It was hot. So hot. Today is the first day of fall but that made no difference. The bus was a mess. The bus wasn't crowded like I had expected but the seats were torn and it was beyond dirty. Everyone was sweating and the only comfort was the occasional gust of wind that came through the tiny cracked windows. The funny thing is that as I am making all of these observations, my husband looks at me and says, “This is the nicest route bus I’ve ever been on! Oh my God, I can’t believe it baby, tuviste suerte!” The incredulous look on his face made it clear that he was being serious.

Apparently, my experience wasn’t indicative of a typical bus trip in Juarez but it was an experience nonetheless. I had a good time and it was humbling and we can only go forward from here. I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!


  1. Thank God you are okay, Emily. That's the main thing. At least you can discover your city on public transport. Buses look nice and clean.

  2. nice collection picture. learn how to avoid vehicle accident

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  5. I’m glad nothing seriously bad happened to you. Car accidents have become a commonality in roads nowadays, especially during the rainy days. And that is a regretful thing given that there are a lot of things that can be done to make roads safer. Anyway, it’s a good thing that you called your insurance company right away so they could have your car fixed immediately. When accidents like that happen, you do have to move fast, think fast to make sure you don’t miss anything or make any mistake.

    Guadalupe Puthoff

  6. Well this has been an issue ever since. drunk driving should be taken as a serious traffic offense, it does not also plays a threat to damages but to lives as well. may you find an attorney like my arizona car accident attorneys.

  7. Yeah, Guadalupe was right. Rainy days really increase the number of accidents on the road. Since it is harder to see pedestrians, animals, and the condition of the road when it rains, more vigilance is expected of us. It is easy to miss oily deposits on intersections, not until you’re already skidding on the road. But I’m glad you’re okay. :)

  8. liinThank goodness you are ok! Bad weather conditions coupled with irresponsible driving make the road a dangerous place especially for adventurous people like you. If accidents like this happen next time, be sure to consult with your lawyer to know your rights as a pedestrian no matter whose fault the accident was.

  9. I’m very happy nothing seriously bad happened to you. God is good all the time. I'm sure a lot of drivers will learn a lot from this blog if they see this cause 40 percent of car crashes are because of brake issues. It's very important to check first your vehicle before you're going into a long road trip. Brakes-4-less would be happy to help you in your brakes in case it's not working properly. It's very affordable and their mechanics their are extremely knowledgeable and have decades of experience in servicing brakes. brake repair mt pleasant sc