Saturday, January 14, 2012

Flash Flood at Guayaquil - 1974

 It was in 1974.  My good friend and Baja traveling buddy Bill Minard, my dog Rocky, my girlfriend at the time and myself were just heading back home after a great and long trip that took us down through Baja and some great adventures.  We were approaching "Guayaquil" when it started to rain on us a little bit here and there.  We had seen the storm in the mountains for a while but didnt think much of it. We were about 20 minutes from our new adventure at the riverbed just past the village.  As we came around the corner the rain had let up and we pulled in behind a short line of cars that were stopped by a rising flash flood from the waters from the mountain valleys behind the village.  As we got out of the car we noticed that in the middle of the rising water was a volkswagon tied to one of the road markers with a thin rope.  We then saw the 2 guys who's car it was and they came up to talk to us.  These 2 guys we had met earlier on the trip and made friends with them.  They said that when they got to the river it was just a small stream across the road so they just drove through the water.  Before they got through the stream the water had flooded the engine because they were going too fast.  While they were stalled in the stream it began rising fast, so they got out of the car and tied a rope to the front bumper and one to one of the road markers.  By then the river was too strong to try and walk across to safety so they got on the hood of the car and someone drove out to them and they got on that car and it backed out of the river with them.  Just as they finished telling us the story the river began rising even more enough to move their car sideways to the current and over the drop off on the side of the road.  If you look closely at the picture you will see the volkswagon tied to the rope just before it broke.  

Everyone watched as the rope got so tight and the river rose even more and snapped the rope and there went their volkswagon down river with all their camping gear in it and all their personal belongings.  As we watched it all float downstream it was headed for a huge tree in the middle of the river and that is where it jammed up against the tree and stayed.  We watched the volkswagon for about 15 minutes and figured it was pretty well stuck so we started to formulate a plan to rescue their things from the car.  

I carry about 75 feet of good solid rope with me all the time for pulling people out of jams so we tied the rope around a tree on dry land and decided to use it as a lifeline to hang onto and wade out to the car and see about getting their things back.  We got to the car and got their surfboards off the top and back to shore.  One of the windows was down enough so they could reach in and roll it down all the way and climb in.  While on top of the roof they handed me some of their camping gear.  The roof had hard surfboard racks on it plus the roof was also slippery from the mud on my feet.  As the guy handed me their Coleman stove and lantern I was reaching for it and as I grabbed the stove I slipped and fell into the river with the stove against my chest and immediately the river took me part way under the car and just enough under the river that I couldn't reach for air so I was pinned there!  My one arm holding the stove was pinned against it so I raised my one free arm up and out of the water and the guy reached down and pulled me up out of the river. I was still holding onto their stove and managed to get back up on the car and back to shore but by now the river had risen too high to go back to the car to get anymore things and the sun was slowly reaching down to sunset.  So we had no choice but to wait until the river dropped enough so we could cross.  

About 2 hours later the river dropped enough and we were on our way across the river and towards home.  Our friends stayed behind to see about getting their car out at some point.

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