I was scheduled to Travel to a small town Nickerie, at the West cost of Suriname on the boarder of Guyana. It’s a distance of 250 kms, from Paramaribo the Capital City of Suriname. I have traveled on this route before. It’s a beautiful stretch of the Savanna and the Amazon rain forests. At times the road gets very quiet and lonely. It is said during these moments as long as you don't stop, it’s perfectly fine. Other wise, there could be possibilities of getting robbed by the bush Negros as often told by several others who drive this route.
We were scheduled to leave Paramaribo early morning around 900 hrs. But unfortunately, we got delayed and were re – scheduled to travel around 12 noon. As luck would have its share, we further got delayed and by the time I boarded my car it was almost 1800 hrs. This time, I wanted to stop at several places and make some pictures of the beautiful Savanna stretch and parts of the Amazon forests especially while crossing across the two beautiful bridges that come on the way. The first bridge is across the Saramacca River and the second a little over 1 km is on the Coppennema Point River. But since we were late and it was dark I changed my mind and decided not to stop at all to make pictures. I said my prayers as usual, to my GOD and started to drive towards my destination, Nickerie.
I had often traveled to this route before, but this time I was driving late in the evening and it was already dark. It was a beautiful experience though. Driving through the Savanna stretch and the Amazon rainforests. Most of the time, I could see that I was the only car on the road. Although some times I would see the lights of a vehicle approaching from front. We would pass by speeding each other and winking our head lights as a gesture of ‘alls fine with me’ or ‘drive safely’.
The first 100 km stretch was with a lot of turns and pot holes. Therefore I was driving considerably slow and making all the necessary turns required in order to ignore the holes and or even to get stuck into them. After I had safely crossed the first 100 kms the road was smooth and gradually my speed increased too. I was now driving at almost 80 to 100 kms per hour which is considered slow on highways. But I was happy driving slow as I could enjoy the darkness and the silence of the Amazon around me.
My colleague, who had been quiet and sleeping beside me, was least bothered about the beautiful nature around us, may be because this was his home Country or like most he too was not a nature lover. I slowed my car while approaching the Coppennema Point River. I love the construction of this bridge. It’s a nice long beautiful stretch of a little more than a kilometer, wide enough for two vehicles to cross the bridge. I slowed my car and while driving had a nice view of the wide river through the darkness of the night. The fresh smell of the water and the beautiful sounds of the waves were like driving across the bridge to Heaven.
After I had crossed the bridge, the road was not only dark and silent but also wet and smooth. I increased my speed at a little over 100 kms per hour. I could feel the wet smell of the wind and the fog that was ahead of me while I was rushing through the dark road. I had almost another 50 kms to go and was a little tired now and was worried that I might get late and therefore must try to reach on time to the apartment that my company had hired where I could spend the night. It was almost 2115 hrs. And I took the last right turn to drive the long 20 kms straight stretch before I could enter the city gates.
I could see the lights of a car coming towards me. The road was as a straight line and one could see the lights of a speeding vehicle from a distance before you could actually pass through, it would some times take almost a couple of minutes. It took me almost 3 minutes driving at almost 100 kms an hour to pass the speeding car that was coming towards me. As I crossed the car, I gained on my speed and now was almost driving at a speed of 120 or more per hour. I could see the straight stretch and there was no car approaching me so I felt it was ok with my speed and wanted to gain some time here.
The good part of this road was that it was smooth and straight. Whereas the bad part of that road was that it had these two sides, which are DEAD ENDS. The extreme right side of the road has a cliff some 3 – 4 feet below the road level full of water and if your unlucky and slide off the road you may either end up at the dirt water and or rush off to the Rice fields, either way the damages could be tremendous causing serious injuries and even result to deaths as it had happened to a few unlucky drivers in the past. While if you slide off to the left side of the road, you could either get stuck with your car on the wide stretch of the wet mud, or slide off to the Rice fields across, once again causing tremendous damages to the car and even serious injuries too!
Before I could even think of something more, suddenly, I saw a big bird sitting on the ground straight ahead of me. I wonder if it was a full grown Owl. It had big shinning eyes and was staring at me. For a moment I felt as if it was asking me, ‘Are you going to kill me’? I had only a fraction of a second to think. And I decided to save the creature. I thought to take a sharp right turn and then take a sharp left turn to get back to my lane. The moment I made my sharp right turn, I saw my car was heading with full speed towards the edge of the road and I realized that if I loose my control I might fall over the edge and into the dirt water. Therefore without any further thought I turned the wheel to make a sharp left turn.
I could see myself coming back to my lane now. But before I could realize what was happening I saw and felt my car turn all around. And this time, I asked myself, ‘Am I dying?’ While the car made a spin around 360 degrees! This time I wanted to take control of the car and now that I could see that I was coming back to my lane again, I wanted to drive on, in order to take full control of myself and my car. But as luck would have it’s way I soon I realized that the car was still spinning and then it took another spin, this time it turned 180 degrees and while it made the unexpected turn it sided towards the extreme left side of the road where I could see the wet mud some 3 – 4 feet below the level of the road.
I heard a big sound 'Bhaum' and my car was on the wet mud. We had rushed through the sides of the road, through the thick growth of the wild grass that served as a boundary to the road sides. My colleague, who was now wide awake was shocked and he opened the door to run out thinking the car was sinking and lay off the road both shocked and stressed. While I tried to understand what was happening. I had now realized that I was some 3 – 4 feet below the level of the road, and was badly stuck on wet mud and was neither able to drive ahead of me nor go behind.
The engine of the car was still running. I could hear the soft sound of the air conditioner and feel the cold inside the car. My heart was running fast and I was holding my steering wheel sitting quietly feeling the stretch on my seat belts. I could hear some music but could not follow the words. I knew my mind was trying to settle down after the mishap.
I realized that we had no scratches, no damages nothing. I opened the door on my side and stepped out to observe the situation. My feet went into the wet mud and were sinking further. I further realized if we stayed at that situation the wheels of the car might get stuck in between the wet mud and that might make matters even worst.
I quickly got back into my car and wanted to try to see if I could make a way to either get out or try to keep the wheels on some dry pieces so that I would not sink into the wet mud. I thought of keeping on the ground and rolling in order to pave myself a way and then see how I could manage myself to come off the situation. I realized that I could not go ahead as the mud had blocked me but I could go behind me. I changed to the rear gear and gave full power to the engine hoping that I could speed through the wet mud and carve a way back. I was going behind now, but very slowly, tearing through the wet mud. I turned towards the direction of the road and tried to slide on to the edge which had a sharp bend. I though if my left rear wheel could get to that edge chances are I might come out. I tried but failed. I tried again and I could feel that the rear left wheel was able to slide on to the sharp bend of the road. I made use of that and turned the car towards that direction giving full power to my engine and tried to turn my rear right wheel towards the same direction. Soon my carwas in a 45 degree angle. The two rear wheels of the car were now on the road and the two front wheels were still stuck in the wet mud in front of me. And the position that I was in, I was afraid that a small wrong move may throw my car either back into the mud or even balance off and turn the car over.
At that very moment I said, 'Babaji please be with me' and, I could feel as if a tremendous force was pushing or lifting me from the front of the car. And soon both the front wheels of my car were on the road. I was surprised and tears of happiness rolled out of my eyes, over my cheeks. I was on the road now. I came out to see how it all happened. I could not believe my eyes; it was really strange to see the car come out to the road from a level 3 – 4 feet below the paved road, full of wet mud. I looked for my colleague and he was lying wide stretched on the ground, stressed and tensed. He was surprised to see me and the car on the road. I walked up to him and asked him if he was ok. He was quiet and silent and frightened. I could see the fear on his face. And went close to him and stretched my hand to him, he held my hand and I helped him to lift himself off the ground. I helped him sit next to the driver’s seat and also helped him to tie his seat belts.
While I walked around the car once again to see if there were any damages. I saw that the three wheel caps were missing and there was not a single scratch on the car, though the car wheels were covered with thick patches of the wet mud. I took a deep breadth and said 'Thank you GOD for being with me’ I said that several times, loud so that I could hear myself very clear. And then I got into my seat and tied my seat belts and started to drive towards Nickerie this time slowly. I was constantly looking at my speed meter and did not want to drive above 50 kms per hour. I drove the long straight stretch of the road and this time, each minute seemed as long as an hour.
I could not think of anything but the moment when the car was spinning around and how I was trying to rush off the mud road. And I kept thanking GOD through out my journey till I reached my apartment in Nickerie. I could not sleep the whole night. Every moment I could hear the noise of the wheels speeding through the wet mud. The whole night, I prayed and thanked GOD for being with me and taking care of me all through this incident.
Once again, life had proved the powers of prayers and the belief in that one almighty GOD. “I thank you once again my Lord and shall spread your kindness to all those who I know and shall hence meet, in order to spread your love towards us, your children.”
During this incident I have learned some lessons.
Remember; Happy moments, praise GOD, Difficult moments, seek for GOD, Quiet moments, worship GOD, Painful moments, trust GOD, and Every moment, thank GOD.
Contributed by: Mohinder Pal Singh
Date: March 15, 2010