Prior to yesterday, our “adventures” here in Thailand have been of the mundane variety. Five trips to the local mall to get our cell phones squared away (thankfully the third floor has a free choo-choo-train to ride). The same number of trips to the bank to set up an account (and waiting two weeks for the username and password to be snail mailed to us in order to set up online banking!). Please don’t think that what we’re doing by living in Thailand is exotic or glamorous!
Yesterday took things to a whole new level though. Brenden was on Day 5 of an 8-day-straight Wilderness First Responder training, (a course that teaches various first response medical interventions, particularly in settings where medical facilities aren’t immediately available), and I had my eyes open for ways to pass time with him gone long days this week. When a local friend invited the kids and I to attend her Thai church retreat in the mountains with her family, it was an easy decision to make. We made the big transition into our new home a couple days ago, which made for a busy last few days, packing up the temporary place and starting to unpack here. I thought an entire day devoted to just “being”, not “doing”, would be a nice change of pace.
We were out the door by 8:15 (a small miracle) and Lauren hopped in our brand-new (to us) car–we got it about 15 hours before this trip (a Toyota Avanza, which we call a “mini” mini-van).
We started off, and Lauren’s husband and two kids trailed behind in their car. We were separated from the start, due to a quick errand we had to make beforehand. I was thrilled to head up the mountain, not realizing just how close it was to the main roads we’d been driving the past month. All was well, and we took in the views (quick, side-long glances, really–eyes kept on the road) as we talked. Lauren eventually told me where to turn, and we hooked a right to the street where the retreat center was supposed to be. According to Google. Within a minute, the road became more narrow and significantly more windy. We saw a big building ahead, but when we saw no cars there, we passed it. Road became more narrow, road became more muddy, I became more aware that the grass just inches from my side of the car was really a 1-2 food drop. We saw a shanty up a hilly drive and decided if we needed to make a 100-point turn, we’d use that driveway to get turned around. It was our only option.
We then noticed the drive was actually a horseshoe, so after taking a deep breath, spirit breathing prayers the whole time, we gunned it up the drive. Got to the top, said hello to the villagers who were looking on with curiosity, and Lauren got out to guide the car. We realized the only way down was the other side of the horseshoe, which was NOT paved, was muddy, and required a sharp turn to stay on the road and not go forward into said 1-2 foot drop. (Who do you call for a tow in these situations? Who?!) Not familiar with how the new car handles, missing having a manual trasmission, realizing how dependent I’ve become on Brenden in circumstances like this, knowing it would not help to call him anyhow, and seeing the gas light come on (not even making that one up), I realized the only way down was down. Maja sensed all this and said she wanted to go home, but the kids were otherwise quiet as mouses, thank God. Anticlimactically, we made it down with no problem–that little Avanza has a racecar turning radius, even if it has no leg room in the backseat!
Here’s the view once we were turned facing the right direction on the path.
Later, Brenden commented that these are the types of roads he’d be on all the time when he travels into Myanmar (sorry Mom and Dad–if it’s any comfort, it will be in a 4-wheel drive and he doesn’t stoke his imagination for “what could have been” like I do). But for me, this was a big deal, and I was all shook up (and dang, couldn’t I have enjoyed the shininess of the car for more than one evening?!)
The rest of the day went as follows: arrive at retreat, where the power (air con and lights) were out in the children’s room, within 20 minutes Emerson splits his top lip on slippery tile floors (same cursed tile floors that left him with a Harry-Potter-esque scar on his forehead from our beach vacation in June), Lauren’s son had diarrhea through his pants and an allergy scare, and her husband Seth bruised his knee badly.
But we also got to see how Thais worship… beautiful scenery…
and friendships solidify. We DID make it down the mountain to the gas station, and Google DID make a correction upon Seth’s request.
I came home, cried, put the kids to bed, took ibuprofen for a big headache, cried some more, had a beer, thanked Jesus, and went to bed early. All’s well that ends well.
(Come on, secretively, weren’t you hoping for SOME stories like this on our blog?)