So after an exhausting day in Apia it is time to go home. Buses leave predictably every hour or so until the last leaves at 5 or 5:30 pm. Lunch was finished around 1:30 but the rain was torrential. So, we hopped in a taxi, hit the ATM and then to the bus stop. The others were going to the store so I was the only one to get out there. All I had to do was open the rear hatch, get my bags, and make it 10 feet to the bus shelter. Rocky was fast when he caught the chicken, but nothing in comparison to how fast I moved. I successfully took my second shower of the day in under 10 seconds… lucky me. It was about 2:05 and I quickly realized that I had missed, if there was one, the 2pm bus. Waiting for 30 minutes or an hour was bearable. The bus stop is right on the harbor and sports a nice breeze. Without saying anything people who are looking for the same bus seem to magically mass in a general area. I recognized some people from my village and stood around them. 2:30pm came and went, as did 3, 3:30, and 4pm. I was relieved at their clear frustration with the situation. If they were there, I must be in the right spot. A few minutes after 4pm we all got onto a bus that would take us about 2 miles away from our village. Fortunately, the bus left about 2 minutes after we got on. It drove to the other bus stop as all busses do to try and pick up more passengers. Then we made one more circle back to the original bus stop still looking for more people. The bus driver still was not satisfied with the number of people on the bus so we headed back to the other bus stop. However, the driver pulled the bus into the Agriculture store parking lot, turned the bus off and got out. It is pretty standard for the bus to make a stop at a store for a passenger to pick up large purchases. Only this time, no passengers had bought anything at the Ag store. We looked at each other confused, not sure what we were doing there. 10 minutes went by, then 15, then 20, then I fell asleep. I woke up at 5:17pm. We were still in the Agriculture store parking lot. Most everyone else was sleeping as well. The driver and his cronies sauntered back to the bus around 5:35pm. We circled in Apia 2 more times looking for more riders. The bus ALWAYS stops at Lynn’s Bakery on the way home. They sell the “Best Bread in Samoa” according to their sign. Today I was too tired to get off and do some extra shopping. After 10 minutes there we were off, until we unexpectedly stopped at another grocery store a bit further up the mountain. As if we weren’t late enough the driver turned off the bus once again, got out and went in. He returned 15 minutes later. This store is like an understocked corner store back home. It has 4 isles about 20 feet long. What could possibly take 15 minutes in there? Incase you forgot these busses are old, rickety, and not rider friendly. I had been sitting on the bus almost 2 hours at this point, and was numb from the waist down. The bus started the steep climb up the mountain. By good fortune the driver did not check the antifreeze/water in the engine. Before we reached the top the bus overheated. Knowledge about automobiles here on the islands is amazingly low. Anyway, the driver just plowed on. He realized that the bus was overheating and slowed down while going down the other side. This had 2 extremely effective results. 1. The bus overheated more and more and more, due to the lack of coolant or a breeze. 2. Gently wafted the steamy chemical laden air through the bus. Finally the bus arrived at my stop around 7:15. This is the moment when I should let you know that I was carrying 7 lbs of grout mix, 4 litres of juice, various fruits and veggies, batteries and battery charger, a mirror, and a fully laden backpack. I had a lovely mile and a half walk home… up hill. Some people suggested we hail a taxi, which we did, but still walked for 10 minutes or so. I arrived home at about 7:45pm only to realize I lost a letter and a box sent to Karen from her mother.
The moral of this story: Don’t go to Apia unless you really have to!