The Commute to School

Showing the new volunteers the way to the schools.

Showing the new volunteers the way to the schools.

Commuting to school here is much different than at home. At home you’ll find me behind the wheel of my small car with Siri navigating me turn by turn, cursing horrid radio stations as I drink my hastily made coffee.  Here; I walk. I walk with my books over my shoulder and water bottle in hand. Instead of staring at cars through a comfortably isolating windshield I see and am greeted by everyone. Whether it be a “Jambo” from those I come across or a chicken pecking their way around my feet. I am (comfortably) never alone.

The group that walked me to school one morning

The group that walked me to school one morning

My favourite is walking through the village and hearing the tiny voices of children asking, “How are you?” and responding with an, “I’m fine” or a repeated, “How are you?” When the kids run up to shake your hand I’m always ready to greet them. It’s an added bonus when they decide that they’ll accompany you for part of your journey –  quietly holding your hand and looking up at you with a big smile. It’s the sweetest part of my day

When it rains at home all it means is that the traffic becomes a bit long and I have to try to park near the school to avoid getting wet. Walking here? When it rains.. It really pours. The roads flood and you have to tip toe along the patches of coral that aren’t submerged. Once I was stuck trying to get to school as a wall was built up on my usual route through the village.  A kind man took me through a back way which was really helpful – but I felt uncomfortable cutting through peoples homes. Even though I felt like an intruder – I was still greeted with a ‘Jambo.’

The Olives courtyard after a big rain

The Olives play area after a big rain

When the roads are particularly bad I opt for a motorcycle. You get less wet this way but sometimes I worry the bike will actually tip and I will not just be knee deep in a puddle but swimming in one. This hasn’t happened yet but I’ll knock on wood to make sure it stays that way.

Walking allows me to see a lot more. Commuting at home has me going through the motions. Here, I pay attention. Not just out of necessity but out of love for where I am. I know this might be the initial reaction to where I am. There is always a slight banality to any place you’ve been for so long, like my home in Surrey, but here I still feel like it’s different. I actually want to talk to people around me. I feel like a part of the community right when I step outside the front door. I feel more connected with the neighbourhood here that I have just met than I do at home with the ones I’ve lived next to for over 4 years. There’s a problem with this. This is something I’d like to change when I get home.

I really do like walking to school. It may be hot and at times uncomfortable but it does help me see where these kids are really coming from. It helps give a glimpse at their home life and to remind me of my own fortune. I don’t think I’ll put the air conditioning on when I’m coming home from school anymore. It doesn’t get nearly that hot in Delta and now seems extremely extravagant to even think of it.

Instead of wondering why people don’t know how to merge or why they choose to drive in the left lane when they clearly should be letting others pass – I’m thinking of my day and taking in my surroundings. Instead of everything being in the way of my destination, it’s all part of the journey.  I hope I can still find a way to feel like this when I hop into my car and set off to school at home. We’ll see.

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