Saturday, 15 January 2011

Off-Roading

On Friday we ventured out of the town to deliver some shoeboxes to schools in the villages in the hills. The first school we delivered to was basically two wooden huts and an office, each with desks, a wood-burning stove, a teacher and some pupils. And the hills and mountains in the background.

We carried on to the next village which required the transiti
on from road to off-road. The Americans in my truck loved it, apparently they go off-roading in their 4x4s all the time. After about 15 minutes of bumping and jumping up the side of a mountain we made it up to a remote school house with just one room, teacher and a few kids. And the stove, obviously. We did some more deliveries, and admired their view of the snow-capped mountains out the windows. The kids are all very sweet, although quite a few of them look pretty bemused by this bunch of foreigners turning up and giving them a box of gifts. Christmas isn't particularly celebrated here so the gift-giving isn't a common custom. But what kid doesn't love a box of toys? So they generally seemed happy.
We were invited to tea in the village, but it turns out that these villages are seriously spread out so it took getting into the trucks to continue the journey. So off we went, embracing the dirt track. Sitting in the back with three others (with eight of us in total in the truck), two facing two was a lot of fun. We were generally shaken around, bumped up and down, left and right. Good times.
So after we've chugged along experiencing the lumps and bumps of off-road travel it gets really exciting when we hit a patch of ice. We start to head up an incline, mountain on the left, nothing on the right, when it becomes clear that we're not going any further. Watching out the back I can see the ice being spit out by the wheels just as we lose any grip. As we begin to head backwards down the hill, our driver turns his wheel to the right and we back (at speed) to the edge of the road. I'm enjoying the view of the almost sheer drop down, pretending that this is in no way completely terrifying and putting my absolute trust in the driver. So we're sliding backwards towards the edge, and down the hill. As we hit dirt at the side of the road, the truck moves forwards and down, the driver steers left and before you know it we're gently sliding back down the hill facefirst. I discovered yesterday that Ernie, the driver, was a formerly a trucker in Canada. It makes sense now.
So, disaster averted. We decide to take a different route which apparently is a worse road but we're going to try it. So after we've climbed and dipped and jolted etc for another 10 or so minutes, and headed down a hill with the truck leaning several degrees past comfortable to the left (during which time I'm planning contingency measures for when the truck rolls and I'm doing something heroic of save the life of the nine year old sitting opposite me), we finally make it to our destination. Thank you Jesus.

I think the next hour or so has been one of my favourite so far, except for the trip to the outside toilet. These communities really are the rural poor, they have very little and live off the land with few prospects for their children. We were served traditional food, pickled peppers and tomatoes, bread, cheese (from the local cows), rice with paprika and chicken, and then tea. Tea comes in little glasses with sugar and lemon and no milk, and is refilled nice and quick. I was happy. But best of all was giving out three more shoeboxes to the three children. It was great to sit around and get excited with them, they really don't have very much and watching them receive new hats and gloves, a tennis ball, a harmonica, colouring books and pens and the rest was really special. It got really exciting and felt a lot like Christmas Day at home. It was so lovely to be a part of that delivery.

The other highlight of that trip was the 104 year old man we encountered on our way. Check out the photos.


5 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing our tale, Ali! Loved meeting you and spending a bit of time with you. Glad this week is going well with the shoebox distributions. What an amazing opportunity God has given to you to be in Kosovo for this time. Cannot wait to see how God uses these experiences in your life! ~Lynnette, from the USA

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  2. Just printing out the passage about your shoebox delivery for Sam to read out in assembly - he was promoting the shoebox appeal last term. Hope that's OK...

    I'm glad you didn't fall off the mountain.

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  3. lol is it good down there
    do u have a feeling inside of doing good to the people
    dawit

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