Sunday, March 1, 2015

Getting Stuck in the Muck--Esther's Funeral--George's Post

In yesterday's post, after giving  a lengthy description of Esther’s funeral, I mentioned that what was already a long day became even longer when the private bus got stuck in the muck when trying to leave.   The bus blocked our exit, delaying us by at least an hour.  Then we had to escape from two messes of our own, before getting back to the paved highway.  While we took no photos of the funeral, wanting to respect the family’s privacy, we did manage to get a handful of shots of the soupy mess that ensnared, at least partially, most of the vehicles when working their way back to Blantyre.  Hopefully, the following pictures will give you a better sense of the challenges we had getting home.
For over an hour, a large crowd tried to extract the bus, first pushing one side than the other, with little success.  Initially, the bus was uphill to our truck, but slowly it slided down, until it completely blocked our possible exit route.
For a while, Carole and I were quite nervous, fearing that the bus would slide right into our truck.  Three times I pulled it forward, at least as far as I dared, to give the bus more room to maneuver.  This shoot does not really convey how close the two vehicles were.
The lane was narrow, and tightly hedged in by dense vegetation.  To my amazement, the bus driver did not exit the bus for at least an hour, to get a better sense of the lay of the land.  He also rejected the suggestion of offloading his passengers, until finally convinced that the crowd didn't have the necessary heft to move a bus still fully loaded.
This photo shows how messy the lane had become after all the pushing and shoving.  By the time this shot was taken, the traffic had churned up at least six inches of muck.  You can see our truck to the far left.
With all of the manpower available, one might have thought it would be easier to get the bus on its way.  But villagers don't have cars and have no feel for what it takes to get the needed traction.  So there are endless debates, wasted effort and mulling around, with no discernible results.  For a variety of reasons, I left it to the bus driver and the villagers to sort through the options.
Finally, we were able to get around the bus (which was still stuck) and made a little progress until I found a ditch of my own.  Driving in mud is not unlike driving on snow, most important is controlling the front of the vehicle, letting the rear take care of itself.  As you can see, I failed miserably, even though I think I am a pretty good driver on snow and ice.

Fortune shined on us.  As you can see, we quickly had a crowd (different than the group working on the bus), to supply the push needed to get back on the road.

The day was terribly hard on my suit pants, white shirt and shoes.  I have two pairs of comfortable dress shoes, which I had thought would be more than enough.  Now I wonder if either pair will make it through the year.