Meulaboh sits at sea level and gets, approximately, 10 feet of rain a year. As you can imagine drainage is an important and fairly tricky issue here. Even with drainage ditches the whole city frequently floods with knee-deep murky water in which lurk alligators, monitor lizards, and a miscellany of other moving creatures. (You might not believe me but just this morning our livelihood team was shown a 15 foot python that the community had caught in the recent flooding.) It's not the sort of place where you want to mistakenly drive into a ditch.
But we do. All the time. Many of the roads here are built so narrowly that it is impossible for two cars to pass without one of them ending up in one of the 3 foot deep ditches that line every road. In many places you cannot make a right or left turn without making, at least, a two point turn.
We got a call at about midnight on Friday that yet another staff person had been driving home and the left front wheel was now spinning freely in a ditch as the vehicle rested on it's axle. It was pouring rain and everyone sprung into action. I will say this about humanitarian aid workers: we might not be very good at normal, boring everyday life...but give us an emergency and there's no one else you'd want there. (I do find it unfortunate that the normal, boring, and everyday is what makes up so much of life, but that's another story.) How five people can lift a car out of a ditch I have no idea. But once we were there everyone just knew what to do. Kenneth, Greg, and Nicole pulled down on the back end. Darren lifted from the front. I drove. A minute later we were out, the tire and axle were inspected and deemed driveable and we were all home ten minutes later.
But it did make me think more about the ditches. I'm convinced that there are two types of people in life. Those who end up in ditches and those who don't. I like to think that I'm part of the latter category but have had so many near scrapes this past week I'm afraid I might have to rethink that. I spent a harrowing ten minutes on Saturday negotiating a truck full of Community Health Staff out of a narrow alley, backwards, between two very dodgy ditches. I just returned from dropping some friends off and had to do a ten point turn to get out of their road. Maybe I'm losing my skill or maybe my luck's wearing thin. Is it simply a matter of time until I end up in a ditch as well?