Monday, September 19, 2011

The Road Home

The Road Home

After a week of work in the bush I was ready for home. It was a long and cold hike to get to Bermin. Then it was a week of living in a bush village with no electricity or running water(we filtered our water with Joe's portable filter). Tons of biting insects and rain that seemed to go on for infinity. Thus, it is no surprise I wanted to find a quick ride back to my post. It would save money and a lot of time. So I took the chance when a cocoa truck arrived to transport the harvest back to a city for export. I was lucky enough to be the only person desiring a ride back to the city, so I hopped in shotgun and hoped the ride would be quick and smooth.

The first problem we came across was a large tree that fell across the road. Storms had raged the previous night and this did not bode well for traveling on the terrible dirt roads of the South West region. The driver and the worker hopped out of the truck and then trekked back to Bermin to get help. After about a half hour of waiting a group of villagers arrived with machetes and an ax. They hacked the tree up and we continued on our way.

At various points I had to exit the truck while the driver tried to make it up various steep and muddy hills. Luckily we did not get stuck for more than a half hour at a time. It is not uncommon for trucks to become permanently stuck in the mud. We continued our journey on a muddy dirt road that did not let up until we made it out of the bush. Their was one more hiccup before we got off the bush paths. Well, I wouldn't exactly call this a  hiccup but more of a close call. A few hours into our ride we came to a bridge. We had already crossed several bridges so this was no bid deal. Bridges in the South West range from small wooden planks that span a chasm ten feet deep to larger river bridges that are composed of shaky planks(actually all of the bridges are made of shaky planks). These wooden bridges generally have solid foundations but the planks that you actually cross on are usually quite shaky. So there are large bridges that cross big rivers, and small ones that cross creeks. This bridge was of the latter type. It was maybe ten feet off the ground over shallow running water. It was maybe fifteen feet long. For whatever reason we had a difficult time getting onto this bridge. The worker riding on the back of the truck hopped off and gave instructions to the driver so that he would get his tires onto the correct planks. We got onto the planks and began crossing the bridge. Just as the front tires reached the other side and we were almost off the bridge, the left plank snapped causing the truck to lurch back and to the left. We were falling off the bridge, so the driver slammed on the gas and we flew forward off the bridge. For a brief moment the driver did not have control and we almost crashed into a ditch. However he hit the brakes and the worker hopped on the back and we continued. A truck pulled up just as we were driving off, took one look at the bridge and turned around.  

The rest of the ride was uneventful but long. It took a total of ten hours to get back home. Rainy season in the South West region destroys the unpaved roads but it can make for some good adventures. Overall the trip to work in Bermin was one of my favorite trips. The scenery was gorgeous and the work was good. It was quite the memorable and amazing experience. Well worth it.

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