Section 14: Laredo to McAllen
Crisis! Our trip has been abruptly halted due to injury. Here’s the story…
Last night we were eating dinner at a restaurant next to our hotel. By the time we were ready to leave the rain was coming down in sheets. You couldn’t even step outside without getting soaked and a crowd of people was clustered around the entryway waiting for it to calm down. Our hotel was less than 200 feet away so we figured we could make a mad dash for the room. We should have waited with everybody else!
In our sprint we had to jump down from a curb into the hotel parking lot. Tenny cleared it easily but Claire, coming behind, didn’t see the murky pool of water at its edge and landed awkwardly, sprawling face forward into the puddle when she felt her ankle tear. The rain was deafening and disorienting and Tenny didn’t realize she was alone as she sprinted for the room. Claire lay in the pool for a couple seconds, completely stunned, before scrambling to her feet and limping as fast as she could for the door. The pain got worse each time she stepped on her ankle and by the time she made it to the room her ankle had swollen to the size of a baseball.
Crap crap crap! How can this happen so close to the finish?
Tenny courageously ran back into the deluge to gather supplies at Walmart while Claire lay on the bed, gritting her teeth and trying unsuccessfully not to panic.
Even with a religious regimen of Ibuprofen, rest and icing, there was no way we were walking for a few days and it wasn’t looking good for finishing. Claire lay around in the hotel for days, feeling alternatively mad at and then sorry for herself. Tenny had plenty of experience with injuries from her years on the track team and did her best to keep up the mood while dispensing advice to a sulky patient.
What to do?
We had set our finish date a couple weeks ago and had people coming to meet us. Plane tickets had been bought and plans made. We didn’t have time (or money) to sit around and hope to heal completely!
By the third day the pain had mostly subsided and we made the difficult decision to jump ahead 30 miles to McAllen. We’ll come back someday to hike this stretch of highway. It’s a hard thing for a thru-hiker to do but sometimes you gotta let go of your ego and get on with it. Amazingly, our favorite local bus system had a route from Rio Grande City to McAllen and it was free! We only had to walk (limp) a short distance to the bus stop and a few minutes later Jacinto pulled up, friendly greetings were exchanged and we were on our way.
We told ourselves that the bus ride was part of the journey and it was. We shared the first part of the ride with Minerva Guerra, a woman in her late sixties/seventies who had lived her entire life in Rio Grande City. In her lifetime, she had seen the city suffer from the drug trafficking across the river. Her daughter had been murdered years ago and she warned us to be careful out here. Do what you want but be careful. Despite the warning, she was full of positivity about our trip and not once did she tell us that we shouldn’t be doing it. She was generous in sharing her stories with us and offered us a blessing as she got off the bus.
We also chatted with Jacinto, our friendly driver from a few days ago. He told us where to go for lunch and talked about his travels as a truck driver back in the day. He had been all over the country and lots of Mexico and we eagerly traded stories throughout the ride. When we made it to McAllen we thanked him and promised to keep in touch. Thank you Minerva and Jacinto for the stories and help. We wouldn’t have done those 30 miles any other way.