Catching the Bus for a Visit to the Marmots

Often I get a little too much pleasure from everyday occurrences here and I wonder why. Doing something that to a local will feel normal can make me feel great. It is similar to that feeling of “how quaint” which always feels patronising. But this feeling isn’t quaintness. It is more inward-focussed than that. It is evidence of that our life here is so different to the one we left. The same basic things are going on, but the spirit of the people involved has changed everything.

This morning’s events form a good example. We were dropping off the elder two kids for a school day trip. They were going to a park where they would hand-feed marmots and other animals, then they’d picnic for lunch and spend the afternoon at the circus. The coach shows up at the local school. The bus is already two thirds full with kids and staff from the other two schools in the district. As the doors open we get an instant reunion. The staff get off and hang out with the staff and parents from our village. The bus is buzzing with activity. The local kids put their backpacks in the luggage area and get on the bus. This is a big deal for our two because it is the first time they are doing a school event together. The staff and parents kiss and shake hands. They smoke and gossip. They talk about the local kids. They play with our baby, who is public property. They talk about the inappropriate shoes one of the staff are wearing. Everyone is teasing everyone else. The staff hang out some more. They are enjoying the rendezvous so much that they don’t want it to break up. They offer the driver a coffee. They light up again to get the last few drags in. The kids are all seated on the bus and the last staff member is puffing as fast as she can to get as much nicotine in before she’s trapped on the bus for an hour. She’s also chewing gum. To a chorus of farewells she gets on the bus and they drive off, twenty minutes late.

We walk home and can’t help but laugh at the whole group social scene of the local primary school. Everyone is trying to look after everyone else while having a great time. It is so different to the place we were and the school we went to that the shock of the change shakes us every day.


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