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Monday, June 16, 2014

On the road, by bus again

ANOTHER BUS RIDE:
Yes, another 6+ hour bus ride ... Stopping along the way while walking to the bus station, the men enjoyed another grocery shopping experience while the two ladies went on to the station with the luggage. Watching the goings on in a bus station, especially one like that one, offered a myriad of people watching experiences.
 As the buses came and went, so did the crowds of people
 an open-air hairdresser [see the hairdryer on the left] She is sitting on a bucket with goop of some sort in her hair, waiting for who knows what
 I continue to be impressed with this manner of transporting little ones. I can not even imagine slinging them around like they do and it seems like they do it until the child is far older than he/she should be for carrying around.

As it turned out, our reservation was for only 1 person and not the 5 of us, so we were left high and dry as the bus left. Our only option was to try and find other means of transportation for this 6+ hr ride. Travis, Danny and Gary trudged all around the station, trying one minivan or bus after another. Nothing available. So we had to wait for the 2:30pm bus. Another anticipated daytime arrival thwarted, leaving us to arrive in the dark. This time however, we were faced with an ~1.5hr walk after our arrival: to then be done in the dark. So be it!

Finally our departure arrived, 3:30pm, and another scramble to get seats on the bus. The bus was full but would wax and wane with the stops that were made.    It doesn't look too bad here however all seats were taken.   standing room only even if carrying a child.
This time we managed a little bit better.  We could actually see the goings on outside of the bus in each of the little stops along the way during the daylight hours, as well as a little of the countryside. It has it's own beauty even though I am not a fan of dry yellow, golds and browns with the occasional green thrown in.   
 a small stop along the way 
 and another
 loading
 one of many schools seen along the roadside
 often times only vegetation was seen
 a These tall towers are actually ant/termite mounds
During the trip we discovered that the grocery bags with our food for the trip and our time in the village actually got left somewhere. Oops ... cookies/bisuits only on the bus.

We finally off-loaded from the bus on a small patch of tarmac in Samtaba, in the deep dark of night, only 5 hours behind schedule. Even so, we were met by Travis' host dad, brother and another member of the village as well as bicycle. A bicycle? Whatever for? Imagine our surprise when they loaded all our suitcases on the back rack of the bicycle and headed off down the path. Wow, we didn't have to manhandle our cases after all. Heading off int the dark and unknown, I was pleases and pleasantly surprised to find us walking under a bright full moon. One doesn't realize just how much light comes from a full moon until one is walking in an area without light pollution of any kind. It was a fantastic 1.5 hr walk, filled with wonderful conversation and absolutely no fear of the surroundings. The shadows did some opportunity for one;s imagination to run wild and it took me a while to realize that the dark areas on the path weren't puddles of water to be avoided, but rather the shadows cast by the trees found on the side of the trail with the moon behind them. The trail was wide and flat offering few obstacles as we walked. The dark also masked the topographical aspects of the walk and you only knew that you were going up or downhill by your actions or lack thereof.

Not knowing how the villagers would react to having photos taken so early in the visit, a photo of the group following the bicycle was not gotten. Gary, however, made a drawing that says it all. 

As we came within the vocal calling range of the first of the two local villages we were met with shouts and greetings. The whole of the first village came out to greet us with handshakes and hugs, songs and clapping. Wow, what a way to say to "hello, welcome". This, Travis explained, is not my village but a village comprised of one family group, a breakaway so to speak of his village. A short interlude and off we were walking again. Down a steep decline and and as we climbed up an ever steeper incline we were once again met by even more shouting, clapping, singing and hugging. This seemed to go on for ever and involved everyone of all ages from the village, including the young teen males. (they got a kick out of hugging us as much as the girls and adults - where was the youthful embarrassment?) It took forever to walk from the trail into the area in front of Travis' house - an area filled with laughing, singing and generally excited people of all ages. Here we were treated to a welcoming ceremony of proportions I had never before experienced. They were genuinely excited to meet us and have us visit them. One can not even begin to describe the emotions evoked by this welcome. All to soon, Travis explained to them that we were very tired and were going to retire. As quickly as it began, it ended and the front "yard" was devoid of people. Man were they silent in their movements. 

Retiring to the house, P&G to the bedroom, Travis to the sofa, we put up our tent on the porch and the day was over ... sleep came quickly and completely.