My nine year old snuggled close as she finished telling me about an exciting dream. "Did you ever have any adventures when you were young?" Ouch. I chose to overlook the implication that my adventurous days of youth might possibly be over with. "Of course! And every day with you four kidlets is an adventure." Her look of skepticism would have made any teen proud. So I launched into a tale of my trip to Haiti when I was sixteen, alone except for some missionaries I had never met before.
It happened shortly after the coup in the early nineties, when the country was still far from stable. On this particular day, we were headed to the Citadelle, nearly twelve hours away. We left well before daybreak, but any attempts to sleep were in vain since many of what were optimistically referred to as roads seemed to simply be paths clear of major debris. More than six hours into our trip, we encountered yet another military check point, but this one was different. The soldier in charge was obviously drunk and demanded a bribe to let us pass. Our driver, bless him, was far too upstanding to do the practical thing and slip him a few dollars. The officer grew more belligerent and insisted on seeing everyone's papers. To our dismay, we discovered that the sister of one of the missionaries had left her passport back at the base, nearly seven hours away. The other soldiers were trying to tell the officer who had been looking for a payoff to just let us go, but instead we wound up following him to their base and waiting for several hours.
The gravity of the situation--a handful of us being held by soldiers shortly after a military coup, at least one of whom was noticeably intoxicated, hours from where we normally would have been, and with no one who knew where we were--didn't make a dent in my enjoyment until I saw the expressions on my parents' faces as I recounted it to them weeks later. The only thing detracting from my fun at the time was that it was hot and I was starting to get hungry.
Hours passed. Several times a new group of soldiers came in, looked at us, and laughed. Suddenly everyone around us tensed. I didn't need to understand Creole to know that the man who had just arrived made the other officers very nervous. Instead of standing around joking as they had been, every man there cast a wary eye in his direction and immediately found something purposeful to do.
He finally made his way to us and began to bark out questions to our Haitian driver. Before he had even completed a sentence or two, the officer curtly told him to stop and began questioning one of the missionaries with us instead. Then he sternly ordered all of us to follow him. He made a brusk gesture toward a bench opposite his desk. It was covered with puddles that I hoped were water, but none of us hesitated a second before sitting down.
I am over at A Deeper Family, pondering the calling to lead a quiet life and exactly what adventures are made of. Come on over and read the rest! :)