Rabi Bus Trip

Beez Neez now Chy Whella
Big Bear and Pepe Millard
Thu 2 Jul 2015 22:37
Rabi Island Bus Trip Up to the ‘City’
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 At exactly eight o’clock we launched ourselves up into the back of the truck-bus and set off along the bumpy ‘highway’. Through the dust we had glimpses of the scenery. Not entirely sure what use the side window served.
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For most of the-hour-and-a-bit-thirty-pence-three-miles-as-the-crow-flies-journey, we could see hills to the front and hills to the back.
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Clearly, ‘proper buses’ are not man enough for the task. I wonder when our truck-bus came off the assembly line, it knew what life it was headed for......
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Looking up the High Street, the Council Offices on the right. Looking down the street, Post Office on the left.
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This morning we had a mixture of workers putting their machetes thoughtfully under their seats and school children of varying ages. The two and bit hour return journey saw shopping to be delivered along the way, pandanus grass going home to be woven, small children being posted on board and gathered when mum remembered – sometimes as the driver was pulling away, sleeping babies finding a random and welcoming lap to continue with the Zzzz’s and several sacks of copra, all good-naturedly handled.
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We stopped at a fuel station on the way home, our most patient and somewhat gorgeous driver reckons to put eight gallons in a day. He makes this journey up at eight, down at twelve, up at one thirty and back at four, he also does school runs around Nuku and a few deliveries when the ‘big ship’ – modest sized freighter, comes in once every ten days or so. We had read it was wise to take a cushion, but none of us wanted to lug them around. I have to say the skidding factor of a cushion would have made the whole thing more uncontrollable than it already was. People didn’t mind if the driver missed a gear on a steep bit and we all concertinaed into one another, you just scooped yourself up, returned to your vague start point and smiled. One lucky lady found herself in the front with the driver and no sooner than we had stopped at the senior school than she found herself with two strip lights balanced between her legs, a bag of tools to hold and a box of extension plugs on the dashboard in front of her, their owner leapt in the back with us to find no seat so he stood and dangled with others. A rather large man had got in beside our lady in the front as he couldn’t manage to cock his leg from the top step over into the bit in which we all waited quietly. Stops in the middle of nowhere saw people appear to collect a bag of rice here, a mysterious carrier bag there or simply schoolchild.
We settled on the bus for our homeward leg and set off northward. After half an hour we did a u-turn by a few houses and picked several passengers up. We took a slightly different route back stopping at the hospital where many got off. Then we briefly stopped back where we had begun, our starting here at least gave us seats, the group who climbed aboard now had to hold on to anything they could if they couldn’t reach the ceiling grating. Later we turned into the senior school and our visiting policeman continued his good-will tour.
Back in our village, the driver stopped by the pre-school, reversed as far as he could to the old copra shed where the boys helped to off-load the sacks people had so easily trampled over with nothing more than a smile.
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We stayed on the bus, passing our stop – just to say we had done the full Monty. The journey was just another ten minutes on the windward, southern end before we did a circle and returned to our start point. The little ones welcomed us back.
Baby Beez waiting for our return and perhaps the tide.........