My West African (Mis)Adventures I spent the New Year's weekend with
Peace Corps volunteers in a town called Man in the Ivory Coast.
When the weekend was over, five friends returned to Liberia, while
Debbie, Amanda, and I began our West African vacation.
Usually the first day
of vacations aren't too eventful. However, we were easily impressed.
After a year in Liberia, it was incredible to be in an air conditioned
bus, with assigned numbered seats, a stereo, and a VCR.
We hadn't been on such nice public transportation the whole time we'd
been in Africa. We were set to enjoy a scenic view and
a peaceful ride.
Before the Storm
After an hour or so, I snuggled down in my seat to take a nap.
I'm still not exactly sure what happened, but it took place just before
Daloa. All of a sudden I was thrown around in my seat and then
showered by two waves of liquid and shattered glass. For
some reason, our bus crossed over into the other lane, hit and oncoming
truck that carried bottles of soft drinks and beer, ran down a steep
embankment, and plowed through a briar patch into a grove of trees.
When we finally came to a stop, the first thing I remember
was Amanda screaming, "Am I bleeding?" She didn't wait for
an answer. Amanda climbed over a dozen seats and several people to
escape out the back of the bus before it exploded.
We were lucky to be alive.
Most people were uninjured except for those seated near the driver.
We were two seats away from where he should have been. I never
learned what happened to him but there was a tree where he had been
seated. A ten foot section of the bus was ripped off the driver's
side. The woman sitting in front of me was thrown out of the
bus and into the trees. Her arms looked broken. There
was someone dead on the road. There could have been more.
Debbie and I climbed
out our shattered window to locate the missing Amanda. She was
going spastic -- a safe distance away from the bus. Her glasses
were missing. Glasses? As soon as she said that, I realized
that mine were missing, too. I went back into the bus to find
them. Amanda's were broken in the stampede out of the bus.
I found one lens. One a second trip I found the other.
Mine were nowhere. I searched around the wreck. Nothing.
I made a third check in the bus and found them -- unbroken -- where
the driver's feet should have been.
Post Card Material
Being the only white victims at the scene (and the only victims covered
with shattered glass and beer), we stuck out in the crowd.
Some people invited us to their village where we cleaned up and ate
before finding a bus on to Daloa. It was a few days before we
could think of anything else to talk about, but we knew no more disasters
could possibly beat this one. We were sure. We were fools.
2000, revised 2012 by Phillip Martin
All rights reserved.