Monday, August 16, 2010

Journey to the Jungle

I hadn't ridden the bus to the jungle for many years.  There were good reasons not to take the bus but it had been such a long time that I had forgotten.  It was not just that the ride is so bumpy that more than once I have slammed so hard into the roof of the bus that I thought I might have done permanent damage to my neck and spine, it is also the constant terror of what might tumble into the road in front of the bus at any time.  Chickens and dogs wander into the roads.  Sometimes the dogs just lay smack dab in the middle of the road and don't bother to move, even with vehicles passing them on both sides.  Cows will also lie in the middle of the road.  The cows are particularly bothersome because if the bus accidentally hit them and killed the cow, the passengers could all be held responsible for the death of the cow which might send us to prison for as many as 12 years.

Large rocks barely attached to the mountainside hover over the road; blind curves yield goats and goat herders; narrow passages at the edges of cliffs are always where other trucks and buses are encountered; and when I look into a ravine, that is where I see the remains of a bus that didn't make it. Then I have to worry about the buses that we encountered coming up from the jungle carrying people, goats, sacks of potatoes, bicycles, women with vegetables and bananas on top.  What if they bounce too hard or take a turn to fast and spill off of the top?

On this trip, a little girl playing too near the road tumbled into the street in front of us.  Our bus screeched to a stop while blasting the horn.  Terrified by the noise the 3 year old began to sob at which point her mother ran out of the house grabbed her up by one arm and gave her a good whack.  Shortly after that, our first pee stop was a dirt hill where men and women squat within view of one another.  It took me a few minutes to work up the courage to bare my bum on the hill.  I had to stake out a place, out of view, where I wasn't also stepping on fly covered human feces.  Fortunately, at the following stop, there were squat toilets with doors and an attendant to keep them from getting too filthy.

It was a significant drop down to the river.  I was hoping that no one had been riding on top.
Next time I think I will fly.


  1. butternut - i know that travel for the people of many countries is an entirely different experience to the cossetted, luxurious forms available in north america. but your words really bring the entire life and death aspect to the forefront. not that life and death aren't entirely present as features of transportation in a luxury bus or a family car but clearly they are even more so in this situation. wow! steven

  2. What a magnificent post. You describe this so well that I'm in that bus, peering down into that ravine. I'm squatting on that gross hill.

  3. Oh my God, how can you endure all of that? I could never submit to that much misery! You are a gem and so brave.
    By the way, I love the flag on the front of the bus!!
    Blessings, Star