Monday, December 10, 2007

Living on the edge...

Two big developments in Kelley’s transportation world.

First of all, I got to drive!!!!! I had my first sola excursion on Salvadoran Highways last Thursday when I went to a meeting in the Southeastern part of San Salvador. I went in the SHARE vehicle all by my lonesome. Things went much smoother than expected thanks to Google maps and satellite imagery. I went straight there and realized that I over-compensated for traffic as I was a full hour early for my meeting. So, I did a little more exploring. I had forgotten how much I like to drive. It is even more fun here since the traffic laws are much like the pirate code… more like “suggestions” than “laws.”

On Saturday, I had to go to another meeting which required taking a new bus. Well, it was a mini-bus to be exact. Mini-buses are interesting because, although you can’t tell by looking, they can accommodate just about as many people as is recommended for a regular-sized bus. This is accomplished by implementing a physics-defying mechanism commonly known as “the clown-car technique” in which large numbers of people are magically stuffed into small spaces. The best mini-buses brandish shark-fins and black lighting while pumping loud music and require two operating personnel. One, the driver, whose job it is to drive as fast as possible occasionally slowing just enough for passengers to scamper on and off. The second is an ayudante or “helper” that collects fairs, calls out the stops and whose legs fly out perpendicular to the bus on highway curves.

I arrived at my meeting without problems. On the way back, the mini-bus was a little crowded, which means that I was left standing in the doorway with the ayudante. I've gotta say that as I watched the asphalt blur by just inches from my toes, I was kinda psyched. I felt all the rebelliousness that comes with violating traffic laws and safety bulletins. I was living life on the edge…. of a mini-bus. Then we took the on-ramp at mach-ten and the centrifugal force bent my body backwards into a perfect C-curve with my fingers white-knuckling the handrail on the ceiling and my toe-nails scraping through my shoes desperately trying to maintain contact with the steps. At the next stop, when a man chivalrously offered to trade spaces with me, there was absolutely no feminist indignationn as I squickly moved into the inner sanctuary of the clown car.

In another tale, of what is looking to be a theme, I didn’t have water Sunday morning. As I have previously mentioned, I don’t always have running water, but I generally do in the mornings. Not having water Sunday morning was major inconvenience in that I had been planning to do some laundry. (In a quick aside, my washer had been down with a clogged pump. Apparently the previous owners had been using the tub and agitator to mix cement.) Normally, when you don’t have consistent running water you either install a cistern, which is basically a big tank that stores water and pumps it into your house so that you don’t notice that you don’t have constantly running water, or you fill barrels and pilas (deep cement sinks) with water and dip from them. The house doesn’t have a cistern and they are difficult and expensive to install. We haven’t gotten around to buying barrels yet. I have a pila, but took for granted that I would have water Sunday morning and didn’t fill it. So I was really without water. No cleaning of the house; bummer. No cleaning of myself? Well, after having done a hearty 40+ minute run; intolerable. I eventually ended up locking all the doors and taking a bucket bath in my laundry room with the little water that was left in the pila. Time to buy a barrel.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The clown-car, mini-bus riding seems so exciting. Everyone should get to do that. Then we wouldn't need those expensive, long line, crowded "amusement" parks. Roller coaster, schmoller coaster, just go ride the bus!! :)