31 Days · africa

#write31days {Stuck in Transition}

It was a long day.

I had left my house shortly after 6am that morning, because that’s when I was most likely to find transport to town. After standing on the roadside on the edge of town for awhile, I found a truck that was willing to drive me to the next village, where I would meet up with a friend and do a quick errand. Then onto town, just 40km away. Shouldn’t take long, right?

Waiting for the bus in the village.
Waiting for the bus in the village.

It took about 4 hours to get to town. That’s just how travel works in rural South Africa when you don’t own a car.

And of course, our ride to the training 2 hours north wouldn’t arrive until about 1pm. So my friend and I spent some time doing errands in town, and we went to the tiny grocery store to grab lunch. We ended up sitting on the curb outside the store, eating lunch and waiting for two teachers from our school to join us.

Around 1pm, as we start looking out for our transport to the training, we get a call from the Peace Corps driver. They are running late, and furthermore, they miscounted, and they didn’t have enough seats for us. So they’d have to drop off the group and return to pick us up.

AKA, we’d be waiting 3-4 hours more. In a village where we had no place to wait except the curb outside the grocery store.

We were stuck. And a little mad. But this was Africa, so we just dealt with it.

Typical travel in a South African "taxi".
Typical travel in a South African “taxi”.

About 4 hours later, we get a call from another Peace Corps employee, saying the driver got lost and apparently doesn’t have cell phone reception. Nobody knows where he is, so they were sending another driver out to pick us up. And it would be another 2 hours.

At this point, I start freaking out a bit because it’s getting dark and the streets aren’t safe after dark. After several random half-English calls, we find ourselves in some guy’s truck, headed to some person’s house. We chilled with the family (I still don’t know who they were exactly) until finally (FINALLY) the transport showed up. We hopped on board and headed north.

The best part of the story? As we pulled into the training site, our 14 passenger van got stuck in the sand on the side of the road. I’d been traveling for 15 hours at this point, and we were stuck on the roadside at 9pm. Thankfully, someone with a huge truck happened to drive by, and those kind souls stopped to unstick us.

 

By the time we reached the lodge, it was booked full. I ended up sleeping in the lodge owner’s teenage daughter’s room, surrounded by Justin Bieber posters. There was also a rogue warthog which tried to break down the door of the house.

Pet warthog.
Pet warthog.

And yet, it all worked out and the training was wonderful. Y’all? This is Africa! And sometimes being stuck ends up being an exhausting but interesting experience!

-Jen

#write31days
#write31days
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6 thoughts on “#write31days {Stuck in Transition}

  1. Hey, Jen! I loved your story here! I can’t imagine… I would have lost it long before you began to get worried. But obviously God gave you what you needed when you needed it. Beautiful reminder for me today. As always, I enjoy visiting your place here! Have a great week, friend!

    1. Well, I’d been conditioned to crazy travel situations since I’d been in SA for 9 months at that point. But it still tried every bit of my patience, and I was DONE by the end! Now though? It’s hilarious, and one of the craziest travel stories I suspect I’ll ever have! 😉

    1. I remember being upset and angry almost to tears, and then getting to the guest house and NOT having a bed. We won’t even talk about the shower in the hallway without a door….

      But the training was amazing, and set the stage for my entire service and career path now. Sometimes, the journey needs to be a part of the biggest story, no matter how crazy it is!

  2. Beiber sounds like the worst part! hehehe… No offense to the people from SA but perhaps, if they followed a more strict schedule and had a HUGE clock tower that could be seen for hundreds of miles things would be more productive? If you ever go back I suggest bringing a clock builder 😀 hehehe love your stories

    1. If only it were that easy! The cadence of life is just different there…and it took a fair amount of adjustment! But after 2.5 years there, I came back to the states and struggled with the whole “being on time” thing! 😉

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