Close Call

The preferred mode of transport here is either a moto (helmets optional) or the tuk-tuk, a modern day version of a rickshaw attached to the back of a moto. The five of us were accosted by tuk-tuk drivers as soon as we stepped out of the hotel. “Hey, lady! Where you want to go? Here. This way!” We agreed on a price, arranged ourselves three on one bench and two on the other, and headed to town.

What was a sprinkle became a rain which became a downpour. The driver stopped to put on a raincoat, reminiscent of the thin plastic protection given on Niagara Falls tours. I wondered how much protection it would offer from the sheets of rain pounding upon us. I felt a sense of shame that we had negotiated the price down from $3 to $2.50. The poor driver was drenched. We wove through rutted streets, increasingly becoming almost impassable from torrents of water. Bumping up and down we braced ourselves for what should have been a short trip. The eyes of my colleagues facing me grew wider as they audibly gasped. As I turned around to see what they were staring at, my eyes met the headlights of a semi-truck slamming on its brakes to avoid running over our tuk-tuk.

I wondered how much protection a thinly constructed metal tuk-tuk would offer five women traveling without helmets. I surmised probably the same amount of protection the thin plastic raincoat donned by our driver offered against the downpour.

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