Every morning my host family picks me up and brings me to work. By the time the van/truck gets to me, there are already about 9 people in the vehicle. We stop along the way toApiato pick up a few more people. We usually top out around 13 people, but there have been times with more. When the van comes this isn’t so bad. They don’t have a nun van, but it is big enough to hold 9 people no problem, though any New Yorker would be complaining about a lack of space, and the heat. Some days it is overcast and raining quite heavily. Then the van is even worse because the few small windows are shut. This can be downright uncomfortable. When the truck comes on mornings like today you breathe a sigh of relief and know that you will not be hot. But you will be wet. As we cross the mountain there is a daily dense fog and torrential rain at the top. Sitting in the bed of a pickup truck with up to nine other people can be quite interesting. Today there were only 5 of us, and randomly as it started to rain someone in the cab of the truck started shoving sheet plastic out of the window. I have never seen this plastic before, and have no idea where it came from. It was however a happy sight for us. We grabbed it and crowded around in the bed hiding under our new found shelter. Sheet plastic has this way of blowing around in the wind though, so it certainly was not 100% effective, but it was better than nothing. Usually we just sit there and deal with it. Now, I know everyone reading this has done it, and if you haven’t you need to try it to get the experience. Go for a drive on a rainy day. Get on any road of your choice where you can get up to at least 50mph. Attain that speed, roll down your window and stick out your hand. Now, imagine that feeling on your entire body. The rain turns into little water bullets pummeling your body and face. They hurt especially badly when they hit you in the ear, and eye… but you have to be a special kind of stupid to be looking right into the rain at that speed. Ok, refocus. Vehicles inSamoaare not well cared for. Consequently, they have stuff break on them all the time. First, there are 3 vehicles that the family chooses from. This week alone there have been 2 flat tires, one bad master cylinder for the clutch, a snapped clutch cable. Flat tires obviously aren’t too big of a deal. Clutch issues are a bit trickier. What do we do? We have a rope, tie it to the bumper of the working pickup truck with 13 people in it in the torrential rain. Tie the other end to the front bumper of the broken pickup truck and drive up the 7 mile climb to cross the mountain. So your thinking, ok sounds ridiculous but whatever, a 2 ton truck can do this no problem. Everyone has someone they know with an oversized truck that only seems to waste gas except for the 1 or 2 times a year when it really comes in handy. Anyway, this is not a 2 ton truck, nor is it new. It is a ½ tonToyotaof sorts which can not be purchased in the states. So ½ ton truck, 13 people, and another ½ truck being towed going up and over a mountain. Amazingly, we make it every time.
It is not in my style to post without pictures, but I have not taken any pictures while in the truck. Check back later this week for more New Zealand Trip stories.