It was the worst place for an ambush, straight road with hills about half a mile away on both sides and when the machine guns opened up, there was confusion in the convoy.

First there was shooting from the side and then it broke out from the other. We ducked onto the floor of the jeep with 50-caliber coming at us. We didn't realize that another ambush had blocked the road back from where we had come.

After 10 minutes, the mortars started. First they were far away and we couldn't tell just where they were. Then they came closer and closer. One hit just in front of our Land Rover. Another bracketed us just behind. That's when Richard Duncan, Time magazine's chief of correspondents, said, "Let's get out of this thing."

We rolled out onto the dirt road, hiding under the vehicle behind the rear tire. We looked back to see Roberto Sanchez, Nicaragua's Defense Ministry spokesman, wounded in the jeep that had been following us, hit by the shrapnel from the mortar that had landed so close to our vehicle.

I lay there under the withering fire for what seemed like hours, first hiding behind the jeep with my cheek pressed against the tire, then crawling on my stomach over to another group of soldiers in a ditch at the roadside, then back on the road to the cover of the jeeps.

All vehicles in the front were hit. Most had their glass shot out and that's where most of the people were hurt.

I remember having made a point to grab my purse as we rolled out of the jeep. Later I found that my only casualty had been my asthma medicine.

This morning we found out that a 300-man reserve unit coming up the road last night to try to bail out the town also had been ambushed, but most made it through. As we prepared to leave, mortars were still coming in outside the town. It's almost an indefensible place, surrounded by hills, and there was fighting going on all around.