Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Road

Nothing can prepare you for the joys and sorrows of traveling in Africa. One of the most amazing sights isn't the mountains, wildlife or even the people. It's the road.

With limited access to power from poverty or just lazy governments not wanting to build power lines, everyone lives in the streets - they braid their hair, clean their clothes, walk for miles and tell stories all in birds-eye view from the bus. Sitting on the bus in Africa is absolutely hypnotic.

Or at least you have to be hypnotized to survive the screeching babies, squaking chickens, puking passengers and the purple knees you will have when you finally leave the moving oven because the seats are so close together that a sardine-can analogy is being kind.

If that wasn't enough, every time another vehicle passes the buses get completely filled with a fine dust that gets everywhere... I mean everywhere. And of course there is the inescapable heat that makes your shirt stick to your back and makes you desperately try to time drinking from your water bottle for between bumps. Usually you fail and water sprays everywhere. Which is probably a good thing because there aren't any bathroom breaks - or - when there is, the driver seems to find the only stretch of road that lacks a bush or rock or even a goat to squat behind.

The problem is that if getting around was easy then the sights wouldn't be as good. Maybe it's just bragging rights to say you are 'hardcore' but the absolute zen-like state you have to enter to survive the African roads make what you see when you finally get there that much more rewarding. It is always possible that the Danakil Depression is just some fancy colors but it's the 6 hour drive in the heat and salt and sleeping in a makeshift hut in the middle of nowhere that makes it that incredible.

Today I am suffering from the results of the African roads. Fourteen hours in a minibus where I got the seat with the most legroom, unfortunately that was also next to 3 other people... in a set of seats designed for three. Which means I spent fourteen hours sitting half sideways pressed up against the window, while I got a great seat to enjoy the view, my ass is killing me and my torso is now permanently twisted to the left. Thankfully, I don't have new bruises on my knees but I do have some new bumps on my head from hitting the window between potholes. Some vacation.

But maybe, just maybe, the sights are mind-blowing and getting there is half the fun.

No comments:

Post a Comment