Sabbath morning came as the perfect opportunity to head up to visit the Haberkam's new place in the mountains.
The trip from the school up to their village is about a three hour drive (my speed...:)), and much of that is comprised of lovely dirt-biking style roads with fantastic views! Micah, who was already headed up, served as an excellent guide. I managed to fall over twice, resulting only in minimal damage to both the bike and my dignity.
By the time we made it up we had missed church, but we still attended an AY program in the church building that afternoon, as well as three other worship services in their village and one of the neighboring villages. It was a great day!
I left the next morning and joined up with part of my family down in Metta. It was then that I learned that they had been informed that one of Tharamu Gayle's patients from a village in their area had been discharged from the hospital and was ready to be picked-up, together with her fourteen-year-old daughter who had been with her as her care-taker. Well where the Haberkam's are they don't have cell service, or, that is, unless they hike part-way up a mountain. So, for the most part, reaching them is pretty much out of the question. As far as I knew the last thing they had heard was that it would still be another week 'til she was discharged and so they certainly wouldn't be prepared to come pick her up.
I decided that the only way would be for me to head back up to their place on the bike, taking the patient's fourteen-year-old daughter with me and hopefully reaching their house soon enough for one of the boys to have time to be able to run back down and pick up the patient herself before dark.
(We've been warned to not be out in this particular area at night. They grow very much opium and it's a big drug dealing area. The main danger is being shot at. The police hide out in an attempt to catch the dealers and (I'm told) if they yell "Stop!" and you don't they will shoot. If the dealers yell out "Stop!" and you do they shoot.)
Little did I know, however, that Bradley HAD, as a matter of fact, visited the hospital that morning and made arrangements to return and pick the patient and her daughter up with the truck several hours later. And so off we were up the mountain!
The thought of running back up there by myself didn't bother me at all, but, at least in my book, having a passenger on these kinds of roads poses a completely new challenge. I must say that some of my most sincere prayers were uttered on that trip. Our travels were nearly without incident though 'til just shortly before we got to the part-way resting point where we stop to pour water on the muffler in order to cool it down. It was then that I began to notice the ominous dark clouds looming overhead. Pretty soon the wind gusts began for real. I really began to pray. When things calmed down enough it was time to go for it. Go we did!
Thankfully we made it through the worst of the deep, powdery dirt before the rain really began to come down. Soon we were on top of the mountain with the rain pouring, thunder crashing, and lightning flashing around us.
At this point there weren't many options but to just keep going. I thought we'd soon make it to the beginning of the short-cut that leads down into the Haberkam's village, which we would then walk down as I knew it would be virtually impossible for me to drive down, especially with a passenger, under the conditions.
What I hadn't planned on, however, was missing the turn-off. This mistake, I'd like to think, was due to the weather and my intent observation of the road directly in front of us. And so we proceeded to drive on for maybe the next hour or so. Every now and again we would pass something I was quite certain I hadn't seen before and I would attempt to ask my passenger again if we were headed in the right direction, to which each time she would point ahead and affirm that, yes, we were indeed heading the right way.
At this point the roads had angry little rivers flowing down them. I discovered that driving on powdery dirt during a rain fall is very similar to driving on ice, or at least it is to begin with. Finally as we came to a fallen tree I knew it was time to accept defeat. Attempting to continue to drive seemed pointless. We needed to get somewhere before dark and I had no idea how long the rain would continue. It could be all night for all I knew.
What followed was a great hike through the elements! It goes without saying that flip-flops are NOT the world's #1 hiking shoe and (with nothing else having been on my feet over over six months) I can assure you that neither is it a rainy season shoe. When walking on a slope through water and oozing mud, let's just say that if you were trying to have fun you could easily find some.:)
Around an hour later, I was becoming increasingly aware of the fact that it looked as if I had made a quite poor decision. Up to this point, we'd mainly walked downhill and I was realizing that though it would most likely be the better idea to return back to the bike it would now most likely be at least another hour and a half's hike and, even if we got back, where to go from there...
By this point the rain had almost totally abated. I'd long since realized that I couldn't even hope to be on the right road anymore, but I was really hoping it was another route and we'd make it through anyways. But the chilling idea was beginning to form in my mind that, if this was the long route around, it could be, well, a looong walk.
Now I was really attempting to communicate with the girl, but, with the language barrier, all I was really getting was that this road would eventually end up at the Haberkam's village, but that, yes, indeed! it would be a loooong walk. What I was unable to make out though was if she was saying that it would take us eight hours to hike or if we would make it there by eight o'clock.
I was at a loss! Should we ask to sleep in one of the houses in the small nearby village we'd just passed? I didn't know where we were or just where exactly we were going. All the various tidbits I'd heard about the night-time dangers in this area due to the drug dealers, ect. were running through my mind, but I knew that there would be better times to dwell on that. It didn't exactly bother me to need to hike for hours, but, again, it's different when you've got someone else to take into consideration. The poor girl with me was both cold and tired. Finally, in desperation I turned to her and simply said (as the Karen say), "I look to you."
With a quick glance at the time she motioned that we'd better be on our way and we plodded on.
The slope wasn't in our favor this time. Several exhausting hills later I heard the sound of a motor in the distance. Yes, it was a guy on a motorbike who had somehow made it through the storm. You should have seen my companion's face light up! She stopped him and asked if he'd please take us BOTH with him. And with that we took off for the ride of my life!! And, believe me, I've lived in some pretty interesting places and gone for some pretty interesting rides in my time. Protesting that I could walk did no good. They were intent on me coming with them, though whereto I didn't know. This guy was GOOD! I could never have done it. The one thing he didn't sacrifice on was speed though. Twice we spun around in a 90 in the mud and just about crashed, but then somehow he caught it each time. We never went completely over. I was honestly was wondering if I'd just met her guardian angel or mine.:)
Our driver pulled up to a split in the road and after giving him a heart-felt thanks the girl led me down one of the roads telling me that we were going to HER village and asking if I would spend the night there. This seemed like a miracle enough! There's some fifty villages back in that area and I had absolutely no clue where her village was located, the name, or anything and now we had been brought right by it.
Now it was rapidly getting dark and, not knowing what else to do, I agreed to spend the night. I hoped to get up at 3 or 4 the next morning and make my way back to the bike (I calculated probably a 5-6 hr hike). I thought that, if I could make it back to the bike, I could figure out where I'd gone wrong. Hopefully I would make it back out early enough in the morning that we could get everything straightened out with the patient and everything before word could leak out that I hadn't made it up to the Haberkam's place and everyone would most likely be frantic. I felt awful at the thought of the patient still waiting at the hospital, but there was no use in worrying about that now.
Meanwhile, Bradley and Thara SawBledt (the former principle of the school who's now staying with the Haberkams) were heading back with the mother. After discovering that I had already left with the daughter they headed back to her village while keeping their eyes open for us (and thankfully missing the worst of the storm.) They found the bike and continued, stopping along the way to ask some villagers if they had seen us.
At the house I was given dry clothes and led away to take a shower (I'm sure I was a sight... Red mud. You can imagine.) They offered supper, which I attempted to gracefully bow out of after I caught a glimpse of some small creature with the resemblence to a rat or squirrel being roasted over the fire.
I had been in bed maybe two hours and just drifted off when I woke up to hear Thara SawBledt's voice near me. I'm not sure if anything has ever sounded sweeter in all of my life! Somehow though I felt like a naughty child caught in the midst of mischief. I didn't think I was supposed to have enjoyed this...:) Explanations would come later.
Soon we were back out in the soggy outdoors and walking to where Bradley's nice, big, safe truck was waiting.
After another ride on the now mushy and deformed roads I found myself safe and sound back in the Haberkam's hut. Explanations, a good meal, and back to bed.
It was a great weekend, to be sure, and a nice break from what can be monotony (as if there really is such a thing here...!)