Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mini bus nightmare

I was in Tofo Mozambique, and after a few weeks of scuba diving, hanging out on the beach and eating lobster, I decided it was time to get on down the road. After about 30 hours of hitchhiking, and taking a few long bus journeys, I found myself in a sweltering place called Tete. I was very near the Mozambique/Malawi border, and wanted to make it before night so I didn't have to stay in this town. I finally found a mini bus going to the border and climbed in. This would be my first mini bus nightmare. Bus drivers in Africa do not leave until the whole bus is completely full, and they will not deny anyone a ride, hoping to make more money. I had experienced this before, but not to this extreme. I was seated in the first row behind the driver, which is usually the most roomy place to be, due to the little step in front of you to put your feet. This time however, this little step had four more people sitting on it, facing backwards. I was crammed up against the window, with two old ladies right in front of me, staring at me and obviously talking about me openly, then another guy crammed up against me to my left, with a kid of around eight sitting on his lap. If that wasn't enough, this kid had two live chickens in his hands, hung upside down by their legs, flapping wildly at times, beating my face with their wing, and launching feather all over the place. Then, due to there being no room for baggage, the driver opened the window I was crammed against and shoved my bag through and onto my lap. Now I was being stared at, talked about, chicken smacked, squawked at, crammed, deprived of leg room, and violated all while having a 50 lb bag on my lap, and my knees to my chest. The thing that finally did me in was when the driver put about five water bottles full of gasoline under my seat as spares. They were obviously leaking making the whole bus unbearably fumigated. Even the fact that the big sliding door would not shut , due to people hanging out of the opening and holding onto the luggage rack on the roof, didn't help air out the bus. A bus meant for ten people, now held 28 plus two chickens and a load of gas.
Finally, about an hour into the ride, when both of my legs where completely asleep, one of my sandals was missing and some guy behind me was resting his hands on my shoulders, I asked someone how much further to the border. When the answer came, and it was two more hours, I told my self I just wasn't going to make it. The very next time that the bus stopped to let someone out, I made everyone in my row get out also, to let me the hell off. When I finally disembarked the vehicle of death, I realized I was in the middle of no where, somewhere a couple hours from Malawi. I didn't give a damn. Against many protests from the driver, him telling me that there was no where to go, and I would probably die, I finally got half my money back and started walking.
When the bus finally left be, I looked around and wondered very seriously if I had made a bad mistake. As I was walking down the road, five kids around the age of 20 came running out of the jungle, clearly drunk out of their minds, wielding machetes. I had no idea what the hell they were doing and it scared me out of my mind for about a minute, seeing them running my direction with machetes, yelling and laughing. I was sure not to show my fear, and acted like I was from around those part. I walked towards one of them and extended my hand to shake his, and surprisingly to me, and I think him too, he took my hand and shook it. My actions definitely had them puzzled, and they were no longer laughing, yelling or anything, just standing in a circle around me in the street and starring in bewilderment at the crazy white boy walking down a road in the middle of nowhere in Mozambique. Eventually I just pushed one aside and started walking again, while they followed along, talking to each other in Swahili, probably trying to decide what to do about me. About a minute later I seen a truck coming, and knew I had to get on it. I practically stepped out in front of it, but it stopped. I jumped in the bed, and it took off, just as a beer bottle came hurling by my head. More rocks and bottles were flung in my direction, but I was safely on my way to the border. The funny thing was that we even passed up the bus I had been on, and they honked and waved as the crazy white boy in the back of a truck sped past.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you had a pretty interesting trip. I would love to visit Africa someday!