Monday, September 12, 2011

Slow Moving Vehicle Ahead

This is the story of the time I didn't get to mess with the missionaries' heads. Also, it is all the proof I need that my tuk-tuk driver is the slowest driver in the world.
First, the background. All volunteers have an assigned or dedicated driver to take them to work each day. Most of my comrades have a “moto” driver. The motos are neither motorcycles or scooters, but somewhere in the middle, and we simply call them motos. The other volunteers all sit on the back of a moto, wearing a helmet, and get whisked around town. But since there are two of us going to my “placement” (our word for the orphanage/school/newspaper/NGO we have been assigned to), we get to take a “tuk-tuk.” As I have explained before, I think, a tuk-tuk is basically a moto driven rickshaw. On the brightside, we don't have to wear helmets, and therefore don't have helmet hair all day. On the downside, our driver is SLOW, and there is a seriously lack of padding and shocks in that contraption!
Oh and have I mentioned it is being held together by a water bottle? Need proof? Here's the picture.

I have noticed that the water bottle changes every few days. When your safety depends upon that water bottle, you notice these things.
Our route to and from the placement takes us through a somewhat sketchy area. Having now seen the real slums, I can say that we are not actually in the slums. We are the precursor the slums. Nonetheless, the sight of two white girls in a tuk-tuk, especially a slow moving tuk-tuk, is pretty interesting to many passersby, and we get a lot, and I do mean A LOT, of honks. But to be honest, I don't think they are honking at the girls. They are honking because our driver is so SLOW!!
This afternoon as we were passing through the sketchy area during rush hour, where the roads are clogged with tuk-tuks, motos, bicycles, and actual cars, I suddenly noticed something odd in the sea of bikes and motos ahead of me- American bicycle helmets. You just don't see that here. No one wears bike helmets! And bike helmets look nothing like the moto helmets. I couldn't help but see them. And that's when I noticed the white shirts, dark pants, and more noticeably, dress shoes. (No one wears real shoes here. Its flip flops or sandals. Never dress shoes!) We were about 20 feet behind them, but I knew they had to be Mormon missionaries. Missionaries look like missionaries, even in the slums of Cambodia.
I got all excited to yell, “Hey Elder!” (because that's what we do, right?) at them as we approached them. But that dang driver of ours! Nothing was between us and the Elders, but he drives so slow we couldn't catch up to them! We are in a motorized vehicle and they are on pedal bikes, and we couldn't catch up to them. So pathetic! Of course, within seconds the sea of motos and bikes filled the gap between us, honking at us as they sped around our slow-moving vehicle, and the elders disappeared into the tide of traffic.
Dang it all! Well, maybe I'll see them some other time. How will anyone ever know I'm a nice Mormon girl if I don't yell, “Hey Elder” at passing missionaries?  

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