A trip that has taken as little as 6 hours in the past dragged on to the 11 and half hour mark before we hit our destination. The main delay occurred when our bus had to leave the paved high and take a detour through small, narrow, village, dirt roads. These roads are barely wide enough for two donkey carts to pass each other without incident. Therefore, when our wide bus tried to squeeze by a five tone truck loaded down with goods travelling the other direction, the inevitable happened. With no shoulder to this laneway, the two side wheels of our vehicle slipped on the soft sand and the bus started to tilt precariously off the side.Our driver quickly came to a halt and encouraged us all too quickly disembark and move off to the side, to stand in the fields with those who were picking cotton. The next two hours were spent trying to get our bus balanced on the road and ready to continue our travels. As we stood around watching them dig out the wheels (which only caused the bus to lean more drastically) and try pilling up rocks to added traction of the inverse side, our group was passed by many other travelers including wagons, other buses and a whole caravan of government SUVs, all of which paused for a moment to chuckle at our plight and drove off without even stopping to offer assistance.
At one point all of the men on our bus decided that maybe if they worked together they could push the bus and force it back on to the road. I couldn’t watched as they rocked the huge metal contraption back and forth, hoping to bounce it into place. I was sure they would topple it over on themselves and I would be left standing there watching several men get squished to death. Instead I turned my back on the whole affair just in time to see a man get run over by a motorcycle. Both the pedestrian and the cyclist were so preoccupied by the bus’s movement they didn’t notice each other. From one horrifying scene to another I stood hoping we would soon be back on our way.
The speed with which they had us going again in under two hours, proved this was not a first for the driver or his crew and that while a bus falling off the road seemed like a mad adventure to me, it was a daily part of their job travelling in the southern part of our province.