The Bus....

September 19, 2010

It was my third week of “practicum” meetings on Mondays and Tuesdays and I was traveling for the fifth time alone by bus to Kumanovo.  I walked farther down the lane than normal to a bus stop that was (to my knowledge at the time) visited by two alternative bus routes, thus increasing my chance of catching a ride to town.  After waiting only a few minutes, and much to my delight, a very large bus barreled down around the corner and glided to a stop. The doors smacked open. I reached inside and clutched the arm rail. Wait, I thought, better double check. “Kumanovo” I asked? A long slew of unrecognizable sounds droned from the driver’s mouth and then bam right in the middle one I knew! “Hospital” I repeated back. Da, he was going to the hospital he nodded in conformation. Success! I leaped onboard with a new wave of confidence and nestled myself into the seat next to the door just in case any unforeseen circumstances necessitated a hasty departure. The enormous bus lurched forward and we were off. We hadn’t gone far when small interesting noises began fluttering from my peripheral and into me ear. I slowly craned my neck around, and for the first time became fully aware of my surroundings. Behind me was an entire bus full of small dark eyes peering at me, wide eyed, just over the top of their seats. I was abruptly confronted with the fact of my situation; I was on the school bus! Well nothing I can do about it now, I thought, better just wait it out. A little ways down the road we stopped to pick up some more children. They bounced onto the bus and sat next to their counterparts who then promptly informed them of my bizarre presence and subsequently more snickering ensued.  It went on like this for several more minutes, stopping and loading, stopping and loading.  It began to occur to me that the bus was becoming very full but the children just kept coming. Another stop and another!  At this point, I was trapped inside the school bus. Children were sitting and leaning on me from every direction. My face was forcibly squashed up against the window and my eyeball, peering through a breath fogged window, watched as the view of Kumanovo began fading away in the distance. Oh the bus went to the hospital all right, but let is suffice to say that it took the LONG way.

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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.