The challenge: get our 3 children, one of whom has a full leg plaster cast and was issued with crutches less than 24 hours ago, from Kathmandu to Chitwan on public transport.
It’s a fair challenge, I thought, but we are up the task. I bought an extra seat for Scarlett to rest her leg on, ‘borrowed’ a pillow from an overpriced hotel, and charged up all the i devices (made by St Apple, the patron saint of long journeys with kids).
It was all going so well, Scarlett was comfy and had my ipod shuffle playing Roald Dhal’s “The Witches” to her, while Evie and Jemima enjoyed sharing the normal ipod and playing the same tunes over and over again and shouting at each other to try to communicate with their headphones still on, in a rather endearing fashion.
Ferg was lost in some game on the ipad, while I just stared out of the window and thought how nice it was to have a quiet moment.
We stopped at some services, and negotiated the challenge of taking Scarlett down some slippery, wet, uneven steps to a ‘squatty potty’ style toilet, which I’m sure you’ll agree was quite an achievement. All good so far.
We had a bite to eat, and set off again.
Refreshed from our rest stop, no one reached immediately for the i-devices. We chatted and settled back down again. It was Fergus who noticed first, reaching for the ipad he said, “Where is the black bag?”
I knew immediately where it was. On the floor, under a chair, in the service station.
Containing: 1 Macbook Air (£900) with all our photos and countless other data stored on the hard drive; 1 ipad (£400); 1 ipod (£200); 1 ipod shuffle (£40); 3 kindles (£220) and worst of all, our hard copies of Scarlett’s medical file including her X ray photos needed for our follow up appointments for her broken leg.
I knocked frantically on the glass door separating the driver and his ‘right hand man’ from the passengers, and used a well placed helpful English speaking Nepali man to help convey the problem. Well, I may have complained about Nepalese inefficiency in the past, but believe me, when I needed things to move fast, they moved fast!
The bus screeched to halt, a phone call was made and next thing Ferg was being pulled along by the Coach Man, who hurled himself in front of the first lorry coming the other way and bundled the pair of them into it! I waited with the children on the bus, looking rather ashamed of myself and apologising to the other passengers. The last thing you need on an 8 hour journey is some stupid person holding everyone up for an hour to go back for a bag.
It sounds as though Ferg had an interesting time hitching to the services and back Nepali style, hanging out of the sides of various vehicles and being dragged along by the only high-speed Nepali I’ve ever met. It must have been a dark moment when the service station staff proudly produced a different black bag.
But fortunately, they had two black bags, and ours was soon returned to us, and Fergus in turn returned to his family unharmed.
All part of the adventure, but a lesson in putting eggs in baskets, or rather a lesson in putting eggs in baskets and leaving the said basket behind.