We've had a very interesting couple of weeks! We left for the capital almost 2 weeks ago because the team leaders of our 6 week summer students had arrived, and we did some orientation for them. Then, we all headed off to a city that has not much more than one of the 7 wonders of the world, but that's definitely enough for me to go visit. All of the students arrived by this time, so we did some more orientation, and then headed back home, this time with our 2 students in tow. We'll call them MTs, short for Mountain Trailblazers. and my shift key just broke, and i'm too lazy to start learning to use the one on the right now, so the rest of this post will be all lower case letters until husband fixes it. :) anyway, two days ago, the day we made the journey back up the mountain, would win the prize for the most interesting of those days. here's why.
we took the train from the capital to ctown, 4 hours south of us. then our great friend, kyle, drove us to the bus station for us to catch a bus back up. upon dropping us off, he was nearly fined, mainly because he's white, but fortunately came out unscathed. then we waited on husband to get the hill sickness pills before buying the tickets. he arrived about 4 minutes before the bus pulled out, so we bought our tickets for this bus. now, normally, we take the deluxe bus, which means it's about $4 instead of $1.75, and has a/c and your own seat, and room under the bus for luggage. but the timing was off, so we decided what the heck, let's just take the regular bus. as it turns out, what the heck is not the best reasoning tool. but it did lead to a busride we'll never forget.
first, there was no room on the bus for our small suitcase and MT's big packs. so husband just climbed the ladder on the back of the bus to put the luggage on top with the help of several south asian men. in the meantime, i boarded the bus and saw to my chagrin that our seats were on the very back row, meaning we had less leg space than everyone else, and no overhead shelf. one of the hazards of purchasing a ticket about 4 minutes before departure time. another such hazard is that although south asia is not a time-driven society, somehow the transportation is very punctual, and the bus started to pull out before i noticed husband on the bus. luckily he was climbing on and not still on the roof, but that was enough to scare me. we made it, though, all 4 of us squeezed into the back row with 2 other men, and smaller backpacks with laptops and other too-valuable-for-the-roof items. i was squished next to the window, which was bringing in a small breeze that i was so thankful for. at one point, i noticed that the seats actually weren't joined, but separated, so i could see that each individual seat was about as wide as my shoulders. and i also noticed that the 4 us were pretty much squeezed into 3.5 seats that once again, were not big enough for the 3 western guys. but after what the heck is decided, there's not much you can do with your luggage strapped to the roof of the bus and the wheels in motion.
it didn't take long for sweat to become our constant companion, and one of our MTs looked at his thermometer and noted that it was 98 degrees. i started wondering how if our bodies are that temperature, why 98.6 degrees isn't the perfect weather tempterature. i mean, it's what our bodies are already used to. this is probably one of the many reasons why i didn't do too hot in science.
back to the bus ride. we began what has been dubbed the '4 hour s-curve' drive upward at speeds no old rambling bus should take. we're beginning to thank husband profusely for those hill sickness pills, but one of the MTs can't stop worrying about the luggage on the roof. then, after one particularly fast curve, we hear a noise and the MTs look back and see something black in the road. they yell 'stop!' and the driver reluctantly takes his foot off the gas. the 3 guys take off running, and i sat on the bus with the glares of several south asians on me. soon, we see the guys running back, empty handed, and there is a unanimous groan heard throughout the bus and the glares grow heavier. i laughed, because i do that when i'm nervous. husband raced up the ladder again to check the luggage, which happened to all be there, but they took that opportunity to re-secure the bags even tighter. a few moments later, we're rambling down the road again.
eventually, we made it back to our town, and miraculously, i was even able to sleep a bit on the ride. the boss's grace, i'm assuming. when we stopped, husband climbed up on the roof of the bus for the third time to retrieve our bags. before he was off the roof, the driver began to drive away, so i had to yell 'stop! no! there are men on top!' and the driver stopped and everyone laughed. husband made it off, and we made it back home, with everything but our dignity in tact.
if we didn't learn anything else from this trip, we did at least take away that the difference of $2.25 will buy you peace of mind, and that what the hecks should be avoided at all costs.