Life in Fondwa

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Hey, that smells almost like...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

On Saturday I accompanied Missy, the other American volunteer in Fondwa, to Jacmel, where she had some mail to pick up. Jacmel is a cozy town by the sea with some impressive colonial-era architecture, a thriving arts scene, and many beautiful beaches. I usually have a relaxing and enjoyable experience when I go to Jacmel; this time, I got more than I bargained for.

After trekking up the mountain to Anbatwanel, Missy and I climbed aboard an already fully-loaded bus heading for the Southern coast. A warm day becomes even warmer when there are that many bodies stacked on top of each other, and the bus was by no means immune to day’s hot sun. When a group of young men started running after the bus flailing their arms, the driver caught on that something was wrong. As he pulled over to the side of the road, an all-consuming pungent smell enveloped the bus; it smelled almost like… burning tires. The bus’s left rear tire was in flames, and there was a stampede to escape out the back door. I managed to get out by flowing with the tide of frightened passengers.

The driver stepped down to take in the situation, and determined that the wheel wasn’t doing so bad. After all, it was now only smoking, not flaming. He decided to give it a go, and there was another stampede to get back on the bus as it started to move again. Not being Haitian, I didn’t have the killer instinct necessary to force my way through the crowd of people amassed at the back entrance; even though there was room enough for everyone in the bus, people were staying near the exit in case of another emergency. The bus picked up speed, and I ran after it day pack and all, finally managing to jump on the back bumper and cling to the roof for dear life. It wasn’t so inconvenient in the end, because, predictably, the tire started burning just a bit down the road. Missy and I decided to walk to rest of the way, convinced by the second burst of flames that staying with the bus was not going to lead to a relaxing and enjoyable experience.


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