***A disclaimer: The photos below are just photos of normal rural roads in our area. These are not the roads we were on during the kidnapping, but they are similar.
Now, to pick up where we left off . . .
We continued south on the main road from Gracias. For those who are reading this but who aren't familiar with Honduras, don't let those words "main road" fool you. We're talking about a rocky, rutted, winding dirt road. We were headed into "the bush." That's what we call the wild, lawless parts of rural Honduras.
Ben and I were not wearing watches, and my phone was in my purse, up on the front seat, so we weren't able to keep track of time passing. It wasn't very long at all, though it seemed like a long time . . . and then the kidnapper pulled the car off onto a side road. Suddenly that "main road" looked like a highway! We bumped along on a narrow dirt road with loose rocks the size of bowling balls here and there in the road. Obviously our rate of speed slowed significantly.
After fording a small, very rocky stream, we came to a secluded wooded spot, and the driver stopped the car and came around to the back doors. This seemed to be a relatively good reason for terror, but what was there to be done? I thought we had probably reached his hiding place - although there were no buildings in sight. We sat and waited to find out what our kidnapper would do next.
With the gun right next to him, and only one of the back doors of the vehicle open, he reached in and took hold of my hands. I thought he was going to have me come out of the Land Cruiser, but instead he pulled a rope from a small woven bag he was carrying, and tied my wrists. Then he tied Ben's wrists. At this point, I told him that I had asthma, and that I needed to get my medicine out of my purse in the front seat. I didn't actually need the medicine right then, but I thought it would be wise to have it on my person, if possible. He shook his head no and continued. He took a bandana from the bag and blindfolded me, and after I could no longer see anything I could tell from his movements that he was also placing a blindfold on Ben.
Without a word, he closed the door, returned to the front of the vehicle, and began to drive again, continuing on the very rough road.
Ben reached across and took my hands. It was hard to balance in the back of the swaying, bouncing vehicle, especially while blindfolded and holding hands, but both Ben and I appreciated the reassurance of each others' touch at that point! After a few moments, we could tell from the sounds that we were crossing some sort of a bridge made with metal plates, and just a short time later, another such bridge. Ben and I whispered about this to one another, and made a point to start listening carefully, in case it was necessary to later describe where we had been.
The rope binding our wrists was thin and rough, and it chaffed a bit as we were tossed about on the rocky road. It was not tied so tightly as to cut into our skin, however, so the discomfort was relatively minor. If we were given some time when our captor wasn't watching us, it seemed likely that we would be able to twist our hands around enough to pick at the knots and possibly free ourselves.
We had driven on for maybe ten or fifteen minutes after that, when Ben very quietly said to me, "I can see everything." I didn't ask him how it was that he could see, but he occasionally, very quietly, told me things that we were passing. Since his release, Ben has told me that his blindfold was not a bandana, but a strip of cotton fabric probably ripped from a shirt - and it just didn't make a good blindfold. Then, with surprise in his voice, he whispered, even more quietly than before, "I know where we are. We're headed back towards Gracias!" Soon after that, he was telling me landmarks that we both knew - a pretty pond with ducks, a particular house, etc.
The Land Cruiser suddenly swung off the road, and there was the sound of branches scraping against the sides of the vehicle. We drove a short distance and stopped. Then once again, Ben and I waited to find out what would happen next.