I’ve got a strong belief that what you focus on grows. The more thought you give to something, the more it pops up in your life. On a recent holiday I heard (what I thought was) a great Lucky Dube song called Reggae Strong and was delighted when Rob bought me his CD with lots of lively Rasta music. I played it constantly before going to Cape Town for a week and, sure enough, it brought some Rastafarians into my life!
But before I tell you about the Rastas, let me set the scene. I was returning to Windhoek on a luxury bus – something that is always an absolute treat given the stunning scenery that one passes through along the way. Also, it is now late August and the time of the year when the Spring flowers are blooming in profusion. The roadside and hills are covered in blankets of yellow, orange, purple and white flowers and Arum Lilies grow next to all the streams. Never mind the 1265kms that stretch ahead to be eaten up over nineteen long hours, with padded seats that recline practically horizontally and enormous viewing windows, the journey is normally very pleasurable.
I wasn’t unduly concerned when a number of Congolese Rastas boarded the bus and proceeded to take up seats behind me. Admittedly, they are a little disconcerting with their matted dreadlocks and shaggy beards – I took one look at their hair and thought that it would take a sheep shearer or a mat comb to bring it into some sort of order and I wondered when last any water or shampoo had passed over their heads. Although the bus was in immaculate condition, there were no paper anti-macassars that one usually finds draped over headrests on planes and buses. I immediately wondered who had rested their head on my seat before me. Could it have been one of these kind of guys? Mark one against the bus service.
Mark two came very shortly after departure when the TV came on and we were subjected to a couple of hours of religious programmes. This had annoyed me intensely on the journey to Cape Town and to have to endure it a second time was a bit much. I was further riled when an offer came on screen for advertisers to ply their wares via this media as they had a captive audience. Christianity shouldn’t be forced down one’s throat because one is a ‘captive audience’. Shame on them. One old lady, who was seated directly in front of the TV screen ended up putting a blanket over her head in an effort to shut it out.
About ten minutes after the TV was switched off, one of the Rastas decided that it was time for us to listen to his ghetto blaster which he turned up in competition with the sedate piped music of the bus. Mark three against the steward for not asking the Rasta to turn it off.
Things started to get really dreadful on the bus when I put my seat back into the reclining position and tried to take a nap. The Rasta behind me, also in the mood for relaxing, thought it would be nice to take off his shoes. I don’t know how long he’d been in South Africa, but I would hazard a guess that he hadn’t washed his feet since leaving the Congo goodness knows when. The rotten smell that hit my nostrils was enough to shock me into an upright position. I grabbed my knee rug and plastered it over my face. My God! What a pong.
Within minutes the air in the downstairs area of the bus was blue and people were placing their hands over their noses. When the steward eventually came to check up on us, he got an alarmed look on his face and rushed back to the front to put the air conditioner on full blast. This gave us a small measure of relief, but it came at a price as we were now all sitting there freezing our butts off.
Mark four against the bus was the air-conditioning. They have a fancy little switch above one’s head where one can turn it on or off, but this is over-ridden by the main system that gushes out cold air from vents right beside the one that is closed. What’s the point. I then spent the next sixteen hours shivering and hugging my blanket to my face. I was even relieved when we were delayed at the Namibian border post for an hour and a half when two folks had hassles getting clearance to come into the country. It was such a relief to stand outside in the cold winter night and gulp in great dollops of fresh air.
Fortunately once we all got back into the bus my Rasta Rebel kindly decided to keep his shoes on – perhaps his feet were getting cold from the air conditioner. The next seven hours passed without too much pain and I even got to see the wonderful Milky Way from my relaxed position. I almost kissed the ground when I finally got off the bus in Windhoek!
I’m now in the process of writing a letter to the bus company. Oh, and I’m also disinfecting my hair. And as for Lucky Dube’s song called ‘Rastas Never Die” – maybe they don’t, they just smell like rotting corpses!