Used with permission, World Wide Drilling Resource
Berny Leonardo and I were on the way back from Santa Elena on Friday morning. We went to have a meeting with the president of the church organization who owns the land where our facilities are located. We have a good relationship with them and after a good conversation we headed back to the shop which was about 2 hours away.
There are stretches of the highway south of Santa Elena which are straight, the road is good and there are no tumulos (speed bumps). This is a normal sized two-lane road with shoulders a few feet wide on either side. Speeds of 60 or more are entirely reasonable despite the speed limit signs. Trucks, especially the big ones, find the speed limits as merely suggestions I think. In short, everyone is driving as fast as they dare. There are also a few motorcycles, some fast and some slow and occasionally one with several people on it. I have seen a family of five on a small motorcycle and no one takes much notice of it.
Berny was driving the crew cab Mitsubishi pickup and we were going about 60. There was a large truck was coming the other way at probably the same speed. When the truck passed, the gust of the wind from the truck blew the hood open. I was talking to Gary on the cell phone when this happened.
In an instant we could not see anything and there were a bits of glass flying about.
When the hood opened, I could not see anything, but Berny, who is fairly short, was able to scoot down and see under the hood through broken windshield. He guided us safely off the road onto the shoulder. We got out and pulled the hood down to survey the damage. The hood was bent where it folded back and the roof of the cab had a dent in it from the hood. The windshield was shattered and the wipers twisted. We were able to find a couple of pieces of wire and rope to tie the hood down and we continued on our way. Driving a bit more slowly now.
About 20 minutes down the road, we came to a mechanic shop beside the road owned by our friend Edgar. We drilled a well in his yard that serves his small community when the main source for the village goes dry. He was not working on anything much and was able to drop his job and help us.
We found the whole latch mechanism was ripped off. It had been loose for a while and the areas around the bolts had work-hardened and become brittle.
Edgar was able to weld the latch back into place, straighten the hood hinges so the hood closed properly. It took him about 2 hours and we were ready to go.
As we came into Poptun, I asked Berny to pull into the shop where they might have a windshield. Berny said it would probably have to be ordered from Guatemala City, but I said we ought to get it ordered then. The folks at the shop checked and sure enough they had the one we needed. They offered to install it right then for a total of 140 US dollars.
I told them to go ahead and do it. They got right onto it and in about another hour we had a brand-new windshield. I also bought two new wiper blades. Good as new. Well almost, if you don’t count the dents.
Later I found out that several folks had noticed the loose hood, but no one had really checked it out to see what was wrong. Nothing had ever happened before. Lesson learned. Deferred maintenance is not maintenance at all.