09 June 2006

A Drive in the Darkness

I’m not sure the following story will do my experience justice, but I’m going to try anyway. Last night, at about 10 pm I (along with Susan) drove Leela (an SF student) to her friend’s home. Obviously it was already dark and simply driving at night is eerie enough here. Things are just darker, no city lights, streetlights, or well painted roads and reflective guides to show you the way. Image the darkest dirt road you have ever driven on and keep it in mind as you read the rest of my story. Okay, after driving through town and into the outskirts for about 15 minutes we came to the turn off, which was dirt, but looked mild enough. I was thinking Leela’s friend lived just off the road, no problem, but alas not so much. The road swerved (because the “finished” part of it wasn’t fully finished so we had to go around the “work”), then it split, then it started getting a little bumpy. Next thing I know there is a deep crevasse in the road and Leela says “no, wait go over there, see those tracks, okay now swerve back to where you were and you’ll get around it”. With the dark driving image in your mind, place yourself in rural Iowa (there was lots of corn), but then give it the contours of the foothills of Colorado and you’ll get a sense of where I was driving. Next thing I know I get a “wait, stop this doesn’t look familiar” as we come upon what looks like dirt bike hills. I turn around (not an easy task considering the contours and gullies), backtracked a little, and then see a car coming from where we were so we then knew we had been on the right track. We go through/over/around the dirt bike hills and start one car width incline with large rocks in the center, erosion gullies, and big bumps (think Colorado 14er four-wheel drive road minus the steep drop off on the side). Once getting up the hill the road leveled off, barbwire fences appeared on both sides and we dead end at someone’s mud house. Susan and I had long ago lost faith in Leela’s ability to find the way to her friend’s house, especially since she had only been there once and we had been traveling on these back roads for about 15 minutes. However, we had passed a gate and she thought that is where we needed to go so we backtracked and sure enough, we found the house. Leela offered to drive another car down to help us get home, but we said we were okay (this whole conversation taking place as Susan and I look back into the back seat where Leela is sitting. She got out of the car, Susan and I turned around to look forward to drive and there in the darkness had appeared an askari (a guard) in Maasai dress carrying a bow. Both Susan and I screamed out of surprise and then laughed at our reaction. We began our way back down the hills and dirt roads and miraculously enough managed to find our way back to the main road.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I somehow didn't this was part of your job description of being a grad student doing research!

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Michelle said...

My goodness...I guess we know who will be driving next time we decide to go off-roading... Think the Echo can handle it? :)

6:16 AM  

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