We spent most of Wednesday on public transit.
In the process, I learned that a few things. First, I like songtaews better than the bus for the first four hours or so. There is a nice wind in your hair, you are surrounded by Burmese and Karen (the Karen allow you to practice language!), and you can watch the beautiful scenery much better. I will admit you are occasionally smushed and/or sat on and the smells are not always spectacular. And after a certain number of hours, your body starts to recognize that it is weird to be moving sideways for such a long time.
Two fun anecdotes from the day: while at the songtaew station, a Karen woman next to us asked, “Are you Kelli? Do you remember me?” I didn’t, and asked where from: we had met in Tennessee, where we had helped her family when they resettled. I used to spend many days with them, namely teaching her sister English. She and her dad, Thomas, were back visiting friends and family along the border.
And while sitting on the songtaew, the Karen woman next to me asked if I new someone in Mae Sot. At first I thought she might be crazy: what are the chances? But after we talked it through, it turns out that she knows my co-worker, Marci, and her family! And this woman and the other Karen woman on the songtaew live at a children’s home that Partners supports. We told them we work for Partners and they were thrilled, which is always encouraging!
I have to say I felt a little more local: I could use my Karen, we had connections to the people we were with, and I even enjoyed a six-hour journey in the back of a truck.