Peace Corps Volunteers are not permitted to drive a vehicle or ride on a motorcycle or scooter while serving. It is grounds for administrative separation. That leaves us with limited options: hope for a ride with a co-worker or family member, taxi or public (i.e. public bus) transportation. I have not seen a single vehicle parked at my school other than the kombi which transports kids to school and the occasional police car investigating the theft of our computers, so that eliminates the possibility of a ride with a co-worker. The family vehicle is used by the eldest son to get to his workplace which is not serviced by a bus and for the occasional social visits. That leaves me with taxi or bus! Taxi from the city is about ten dollars and the bus is about seventy five cents. As a volunteer, you know which option I am going to select–the bus.
Buses run about once an hour on weekdays out to my village or into the city. On Thursday, I have to leave around 15.00 to go to the store to buy food for my cooking demonstration at 18.00 and to hopefully get a bite to eat. This past Thursday was no different. Beverly met me at the school and we walked out to the bus stop and boarded the bus. It wasn’t packed but there was not an overabundance of seats so we ended up in those seats in the very back of the bus. I think all the traffic along the road that runs through the villages to Saraj likes to compete with the traffic on the adjacent freeway. So we were moving along at a fairly fast pace when a slow moving vehicle pulled in front of the bus. He slammed on his brakes and it was all I could do to keep from falling off my seat and flat on the floor of the bus. I managed, but in the process twisted my hip. Ouch! The rest of the trip was remarkably uneventful but I continued to hold onto my seat for dear life. A face plant on a city bus is so unattractive!
American Corner was a wonderful event. We had about 20 people for our sandwich salads event. We made egg salad, tuna salad and chicken salad, all with locally available ingredients. Yes, I could even get cranberries and curry powder for my chicken salad. However, the evenings there are always cut short by the necessity of catching a bus at 19.00. If we don’t catch that one, the frequency has now been reduced to every two hours and we would have to hang out until 21.00–not an option for an early to bed person. Unfortunately for us, this particular bus is also the one that is carrying all the afternoon shift high school students home for the day. It is packed! It is one of those double long buses that has the flexible center so you can imagine how many people are on this bus. The students always make sure that any “older” people riding the bus has a seat and for that I am grateful. They can be so polite at times. And then there was Thursday evening! I did get a seat but I was surrounded by a group of young males who were behaving quite poorly. Their actions were not typical of the students I have seen in the past. They were desperately seeking attention in any way they could get it. They were offering marriage proposals to me, behaving in a crude manner and wanting me to talk on their cellular phones. Additionally as I was leaving the bus, one of them grabbed at my hat and another grabbed my arm. I did have one young lady lean over and apologize to me for their behavior but it was still a very unpleasant trip. This being said, I think in the future, I will splurge and take the taxi home from American Corner. It will be much less stressful. I will continue to utilize the bus in other instances but I just don’t want the additional stress that riding the 19.00 engenders.