Friday, November 12, 2010

Middle of Nowhere

Rolling into Kuruman on a taxi from Pretoria is a bit of an exercise in contradiction. On the one hand, it is generally a relief to be that much closer to "home", but on the other hand it is usually late in the evening when I arrive and I am instantly presented with a conundrum. Where to sleep for the night? Guesthouses are nice, but expensive. Friends are welcoming, but I hate to take advantage. On my last trip to the big city, I decided to avoid the issue altogether. I decided to stay with a friend in Vryburg.

It was great. I met her in town and we took a taxi to her village. I love visiting other volunteers' sites. It's so interesting to see how differently we live in such similar circumstances. We did some baking, a lot of dishwashing, but mostly just gabbed the night away. I was sad to leave the next morning, but leave I did.

This volunteer had managed to get to my site from Vryburg before. She had no difficuly, so I didn't anticipate any. Silly me. Once at the taxi rank I was informed that there were no taxis to Loopeng, but I could take one to a nearby village and then catch another taxi from there. At the time, this seemed not only plausible, but possible.

After waiting several hours for the taxi to leave the rank, I was crushed when we suffered a flat tire just after leaving Vryburg. It took a while to fix, but eventually we were on the road again.

Instead of taking a direct route through the Moshaweng valley, this taxi went wandering through the bush. It was scenic, but as the day wore on I started getting nervous. Where was I? How close to home?

Fading hopes started to turn to panic when the taxi suffered another puncture. Once again it was repaired, but by then the sun was setting. We drove on.

Eventually I was the only passenger left on the taxi. The driver arranged a ride for me to a village I recognized as only about 30 km from mine. When we arrived it was completely dark. There were no taxis. I was in trouble. Panic turned into a giant ocean of despair and I was beginning to drown.

Luckily, there was a tuck shop not too far from the road. I wandered in and lo and behold! A learner from Moshaweng was perched on the counter. She took me under her wing and tried valiantly to get one of her friends to come rescue us. I clung to this faint hope, but alas, rescue in the form of a motor vehicle never arrived. Rescue in the form of a kindly tuck shop owner who gave me a blanket and a place on her floor surely did arrive. I was exhausted and slept like a rock, despite the constant hum of house music.

The next day we woke up bright and early and walked out to the tar road, where we sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and waited for a taxi to come along and take pity on us. I read Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith. I had almost finished when salvation, in the form of four wheels and an engine, finally showed up.

24 hours after I left my friend's place, I made it home to choirs of "Sego, where have you been?"

It was a long story.

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