Tell us the farthest you’ve ever traveled from home.
July 15, 2013
Up until recently, the furthest I had ever traveled from my home in the Grand Canyon state was to the state of nirvana, and that was only in my mind. However, I can now proudly boast that I have been 7,000 plus miles away from home and hearth, by myself. Of course without a doubt, the hardest element to overcome was the language barrier. During my first few weeks abroad, I learned the art of smile and nod. Although sometimes, this tactic only served to increase my frustration.
In the days before I could secure a rental car, I had to rely on the kindness of strangers to get me to school. I befriended a local bus driver and somehow managed to communicate to him that I needed transportation to and from school for approximately 1 to 2 weeks. Mr. Barang agreed to be my driver.
Mr. Barang was a wonderful man from Pakistan. And I do mean wonderful. Although I was living at least 24 kilometers (approx. 15 miles) from my school, Mr. Barang, the school bus driver for the primary grades, agreed to pick me up before his route began each day and take me to school. He also agreed to pick me up after he dropped off his charges and deliver me safely back home. There was, however, one teeny, tiny, itsy, bitsy, little problem. At the time, I spoke only about 4 or 5 phrases of Arabic, and he spoke only about 4 or 5 phrases of English.
We tried to converse with one another, but we could only manage small talk. We found out each other’s names and ages (me 48, him 47, I think). I was able to discern that he has a 23 year old son that either is a doctor, or studying to become a doctor. He was able to understand that I have 4 children, but was only ever able to understand where one of them lives (Kuwait). Yes, communication was a problem and I tried not to laugh when he spoke to me, because he did what I believe most people do when trying to communicate with someone who does not speak their language: THEY YELL.
“LA AFHAM, MISS VICTORIA!” (I don’t understand)
“I’m sorry, Mr. Barang, I don’t understand.”
I was completely satisfied with our non-communicative relationship until one day when I had to secure a ride to a town approximately 145 kilometers (90 miles) away from my school. Up until that point in my adventure teaching abroad, someone had always been there to guide and direct me. The thought of having to arrange my own travel plans had never crossed my mind. I managed to convey my need for a driver to Mr. Barang one afternoon as he was driving me home. However, that was all I could convey to him. The details, the when and the where and the what time, was lost in translation. Frustrated at our lack of ability to effectively communicate these important details to one another, we both just huffed in exasperation and sat in silence for the 20 or so minutes it took for him to drive me home. The art of smile and nod was completely ineffective.
As we arrived at my stop, I slowly arose from my seat and Mr. Barang tentatively turned to face me. We smiled weakly at one another.
“6:40 TOMORROW MORNING, MISS VICTORIA?”
“Maafi moshkelah, Mr. Barang.” (No problem)
“WAIT FOR YOU AT TOWN?”
“Aywa, shukran.” (Yes, thank you)
“BRING BACK HERE AFTER?”
“Sah, Insha’Allah” (Right, God willing)
“THANK YOU, MISS VICTORIA”
“Shukran, Mr. Barang. Shukran.”
And with that, I skipped off the bus.
I will never forget how surreal that moment was for me. I have etched it in my memory and I hope to relive it over and over to myself in the coming years. For me, that moment became my genesis, the beginning of my long-awaited journey to find myself. The moment I had to truly fend for myself. I may not know where this journey will end, but I am crystal clear on where it began. Peace, ~v.
In response to the Daily Prompt: Far From Home