Thursday, April 24, 2014

Through the Window

Ten-hour bus rides are fun. Especially when they turn into twelve hours when you get a flat tire on the road. All twelve of which you spent staring out the window, because the road is too windy and your stomach too upset to do anything else. And at first, you are frustrated, because you have a book to read and you really want a nap.

But start to actually look. Not mindlessly, not wishing you were doing something else. You start to look, and you see, and you wonder.

You see the landscape changing, from lush green

to spots of green

to mostly just brown.

You see construction sites, and their materials, and their methods. How does that work? Why do they do it that way? You know a little bit about construction here, and the differences, but why are they that way? Does it have to do with the climate? With the culture? Where do these differences come from?

You see colorful laundry and colorful carpets hanging on the sides of the road, draped over short walls and prickly bushes and what looks like wire. The carpets are for sale, but the clothing is there to dry. Why there? Why not on a clothing line? Is it that much cheaper, or is there another reason? And wow, think of the time it took to do all that wash, likely by hand. You think of the woman in 1984, the one who is described as spending her life doing laundry. Do these women ever feel that way? What would they say, if they saw you taking pictures of nature's drying racks?

You see men irrigating fields, and you think of the methods used on the farm at home, and you wonder how they compare. It looks like flood irrigation; where does the water come from? You know there's an aquifer- is that the main source? What are the common crops here, and how much water do they need? 

You notice the phone lines that get in the way of your photographs, and they make you pause. Not every town you pass has phone lines. There are satellites on many roofs, but not all of them. What is it like, to live without those? To live in a world where you don't need those? Does all our technology make our lives better, or would you be comfortable living where cell phone towers and Internet access don't dictate your happiness?

The bus passes through a city, and you get your camera up just in time to catch a picture of his man, wheeling a bicycle with cow hooves hanging off every side. Oh, the things you see!

The bus passes roadside stand after roadside stand, some more elaborate than others. You admire the pottery, the carpets, the knickknacks you see. They shine in the sun, like they want to present their best selves to you as you speed by.

You notice a field of a yellow grain - wheat, maybe? It's full of men holding a tool in their hand - a scythe? You don't know. You can guess, you can imagine, but you have no experience with this kind of crop nor this type of farming, so all your thoughts are pure conjecture. But pure wonder as well. They move so fast, these farmers cutting their crop. How do they do it? Their hands fly, and the wheat falls, and the bundle is tied and left behind before you have a chance to blink. It's beautiful, the field of half waving stalks and half cut and shining bundles.

You pass so many different types of topography- mountains, plains, greenery, desert. You notice the rocks change color during one portion, changing from the browns you've seen all day to a unique dark black. Interesting. You watch the cliffs flash by the bus windows, and you study the rock formations and the marks in the stones, trying to remember the geology you learned in school four years ago but also mostly just admiring nature's art.

You pass buildings and homes and fascinating architecture. People working in the fields, people working in the yard, people sitting in the shade and watching buses go by. You pass children playing by the side of the road, more games of street soccer than you can count. Grandparents and infants and pets and livestock; all these lives so different than yours. It's a privilege to witness them, if only through the window.

You stop in the city for lunch, and you see this adorable girl playing on the steps while her family waits for the bus to leave again. It makes you think of the families you know, here and back home and everywhere else. All these differences you notice, all these strange and interesting new things; it's nice to be reminded that we're all the same in the end.

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