I sat in the front of a bus from some place to somewhere. The names of the places I have long forgotten, but the places, however, are forever part of my memory. The bus slithered along narrow bi-roads through thick pine-forests. Beautiful large trees on both sides making for an overload of photogenic and panoramic images. Peaceful small villages showed me the beauty of this nation’s countryside.
I had noticed the driver nervously smoking and looking at his dials for the last 50 kilometres or so and he kept looking in left-side rear mirror and pressing the same button over and over again. The bus stopped in a small village to let some passengers out. When we were ready to leave the even smaller station the motor shut down and the driver tried the ignition to restart the motor a few times – he was unsuccessful. He opened the front door manually and went to have a look at the back of the bus. Very quickly he came back to fetch a fire-extinguisher and ordered everyone off the bus. Sometimes you don’t need to understand the language to know what is going on.
Like everyone else I grabbed my stuff and went out. I walked to the back of the bus just in time to see the full blast of the fire-extinguisher on the batteries and machinery; the sound and blast was so loud that I noticed a mother and young daughter, who were fellow passengers, run for cover, with the young girl crying.
The fire was extinguished, but the bus was going nowhere any more. ‘Do as the locals do’, so I followed the other passenger in getting my luggage out of the bus and hand my ticket to the driver, who gave a refund for the remainder of the trip. The mother told me in English that we would have to wait for the next bus, which would take about an hour.
For hours already, I was in dire need of a lavatory and rushed to the outhouse I had noticed earlier behind a little grocery shop. It was of the ‘hole in the ground’ model, and only after relief set in did I notice that was apparently out of order, given the smell, and presumably only in use by swarms of flies. ‘Do as the locals do’; I should have done as the drunks nearby did, use the grass to relieve myself.
Of course, I had now missed my connecting bus and was doomed to stay overnight in a small village, where the bus timetables are still written by hand in a once grand, now dilapidated, bus station that youngsters and drunks use as a gathering place. But thanks to the one, rather decent, I must say, hotel and two attractive and cute waitresses, I had a great night’s rest.