Reporters on the Job
• Journey into a Hurricane : Foreign correspondents will often say that half the battle in getting a story, is simply getting there. Today's story about Mexico in the wake of Hurricane Emily (page 7), Danna Harman illustrates the point.
She was on a bus in Chiapas, Mexico, working on another story, when her BlackBerry pinged with a message. "I was going away from Cancún when I got the word to go cover hurricane Emily."
She got off the bus and went back to San Cristóbal. By then, the airport in Cancun was closed. Her only option was a 18-hour bus ride. She boarded at 6:30 p.m. in the pouring rain.
"It was one of the worst bus rides of my life. It was pouring rain. The roads were full of hairpin turns. And they showed one movie after another at full volume. There was no sleeping," she says.
At 1 a.m., the bus driver pulled into Palenque and the bus was ordered to go to Tuxtla, six hours back from where they had come. Danna and Eloise, her summer intern, got off and stood in the rain considering her options with a group of about half-a-dozen Mexicans trying to get back to their jobs.
"We looked like drenched dogs," says Danna. For a fee, they persuaded a minivan driver to take them to Chetumal, four hours away. "We took up a collection to pay for the ride and I promised my fellow riders that if there were roadblocks, I'd flash my press pass and talk our way through."
By 6 a.m., they were getting on another bus. It wasn't until after 3 p.m. on Monday that Danna and her merry band of travelers arrived at Playa del Carmen, just south of Cancun. "We had all bonded by them. We exchanged hugs and then I went to work."
The journey took 20.5 hours. Forty-five minutes later, Danna was filing her first report.
David Clark Scott