My pals (Randy Sharpe, Randy and Mike Lanciault, Eddie Robinson) and I along with my brother Bill piled into Dad's jeep one morning and decided to head out behind Lagunillas. We drove out behind Tia Juana until we hit the cross roads which took us out behind Lagunillas and then we turned onto one of the old abandoned Shell exploratory roads which went out behind the Lagunillas area up into the high country. This road was no longer used by Shell and was beginning to return to jungle. The cattle cut trails into the oil/sand with their hoof paths. The brush grew over into the road and we used our machetes to cut our way through in some places.

It was a long ride up into the high country where you could look back and see the lake off in the distance. We stopped at a small village which is where the oil/sand top ended (what was left of it as it had been abandoned years ago) There was a small cantina where we bought a few sodas and alpagatas which were made with leather soles rather than tire treads which is what you could buy in Ojeda. We had a shotgun with us (It belonged to Jose Romero’s father) and some spent plastic shell hulls which we gave to some of the locals because they only had brass shells which they reloaded. They had never seen plastic shotgun shells. We had our sodas and continued out the road and entered jungle and the shrubs and trees really hung out over the jeep as we now were going down an abandoned dirt roadway which probably had not seen a vehicle in years.

We came upon an anaconda which stretched across the road. I wanted the skin, but before I could express my desire, Randy Sharpe jumped out of the jeep and hacked the big snake into sections with his razor sharp machete. My brother and I were furious. Bill was driving. Well we continued on until we reached the end of what we could pass with the jeep without a winch and additional gas and we were way out. We decided to turn around and it was now sunset and we got back to the village and they had some lights on at the cantina and we purchased more sodas and then drove on back toward camp.

We reached a point on the road -- now pitch dark-- where you could see the last of the sun reflect off the lake and you could just see a few lights where the camps were on the lakeshore. We were way out there. We continued on until we came to the Carora Highway which at that time was under construction. (The Germans built the road). We turned onto the road because we knew it intersected one of the roads behind Tia Juana. It was hot and we dropped the windshield and strapped it to the hood. Bill pulled out the throttle and he and I put our legs out onto the hood and the guys in back settled down for a long dusty ride as the road had not yet been surfaced with asphalt.

Not too long after we got on to the road we saw a single headlight in the dust-hazed distance approaching us and we did not think much of it, it could have been a motorcycle though they were few and far between at that time. We watched the light approach us and Bill had the jeep in the middle of the road cruising along at 40 or 50 mph. The road was dusty and the air was full of it, and WHOA!!! The light in front of us manifested itself into a big dump truck with its left headlight out and it also was in the middle of the road. Bill whipped the jeep to the right and the truck snapped past us. You could have reached out and touch its sides as it passed us.

Somehow Bill kept the jeep on the road and after we got through its dust as we continued down the road we all were just hyper with the adrenaline pumping through our veins. We had just missed instant death. We sobered up and continued home and the next day we forgot the whole thing, except, I have never forgotten how close we were to death. I would have missed all the things I did after that that I have shared with you.

 

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