Monday, September 25, 2006

Quel Aventure!!

So yesterday turned out to be way more of a third world experience than we had forseen. We have a Toyota Prado and were headed with an african man and his guide to a village about 4 hours away. Turns out he had an entourage of 5 with him...and somehow we all jammed in. Thankfully with Bennett's carseat they couldnt cram into that space and we were ok and could breathe. Anyhow, we left at 6am and had a decent paved road for 2 hours to the small town of Ayerou. From there, we went on "la piste" little backwoods roads and sand dune paths. It had rained the night before so there we lots of big puddles. Thank goodness for 4x4! We got close to the village after 2 hours (we stopped briefly at another village) and there we had to go off any type of road and into the bushes. We tried to cross one place, but it was too wet in the grass and our wheels were spinning and we got stuck. Paul and the 3 able bodied Africans pushed a bit and we got out from there and went farther down the road to try to get across. We headed across a dried up millet field, and ran smack dab into the middle of a mud hole from which there was no exiting. We pulled and dug and manouevered to no avail.

So us ladies, Bennett and the small african girl Grace headed off to install ourselves into the shade of a tree. We needed a truck to pull ourselves out, and this wasnt exactle a well travelled area!
After 2 hours- a truck! woohoo! We flagged it down and it was a govenor of the region. He actually told us he was too important to stop and would not help and he left. Yuck. We were not impressed. About an hour later, another truck. Same story. he was in the delegation and they had no time. (it was not risky for them and we only needed a 10 foot pull, it would have taken no more than 5 minutes top!) So another hour passes, at this point Bennett wakes up from his sleep under the tree and is playing and chasing goats with Grace the African girl.

A motorcycle passes and tells us there are other trucks on the road. We wait and 2 more arrive together. Guess what. The governors delegation and they wont help. Lets just say Paul was so mad its a good thing some of us were there to calm him down. By this time we had been stuck in the mud in the sun for 4 hours. Finally, about 20 minutes after that, a bush taxi bus, crammed full of like 30 people and bags on the roof etc, pulls up and stops. We talka bit, offer some financial incentive (still cheap by our standars) and the whole bus unloads, the 30 or so africans come to the truck, 2 minutes of getting set and one BIG PULL. WOohoo!

It was a very vivid experience of the people who stop and help and who are part of a community and a government and the rich who do nothing. Another reasons we have a passion to help the poor normal people, and &*@!%! to the rich government who bleed them dry. OK, enough ranting!

Through the whole thing, we were remarkable calm. Bennett did great, took a nap, played, ran chased goats and laughed. I felt more than prepared to spend the night under that tree if we needed to. My emergency pack had lots of sunscreen, mosquito spray, heat reflecting foil blanket, road flares, matches for a fire, protein bars, water purification tablets etc. (Thanks again Mark and Tom -see i used it!)So if we had to stay there it was ok. In the end we got out and headed home for a 14 hour round trip, some great talks and insight into the people here. For those with google earth, here is our coordinates to see where we were stuck (you need to change them to the other format, but thats easily done on the web). We were almost in Mali!
N 14degrees 57.500 E 000 degrees 46.039

SO I also find that french is getting more and more in my head and i forget english now. I use french most of the day, and even with bennett I find myself mostly using french :) Amazing how fast it comes back and im already dreaming in french and mixing up my languages when i talk to Paul. He is glad im here to translate and is seeing the value of knowing it for sure. Good motivation for his next class!

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