Last week we had a month's worth of rain in one day. In order to achieve this, rain must be both relentless and heavy. As you can probably imagine, that's no fun to be out in, so work was the quietest that I had experienced it to date. This suited me fine because I was safe and dry at work; I also had friends staying over and was glad not to be too tired to entertain them.
After shop had shut, we went for dinner and drinks and catch-up. We went to a reasonably priced Mexican restaurant, asked if we could have a table outside and provided much entertainment for the serving staff. We ordered after much gossip, deliberation, and menu scrutiny by my nouveau-vegan friend (it all happened after she broke up with a butcher). We ate, teased the waiter, tipped well, had after-dinner coffee and gin, bought some soy milk, and called a taxi back to my village.
It was all very lovely until the taxi passed a village at the top of a hill, reached the bottom of the hill and splooshed into a giant puddle, which turned out to be a burst river, which broke the engine and brought the taxi to an unceremonially pathetic kaput. We four girls and the taxi driver were stranded in a river.
I laughed nervously and felt incredibly bad for my friends who had travelled for hours on a bus to see me and what I had promised to be a beautiful corner of the world. Friend A reached out of the window to dip her hand in the river which reached up towards the car door handle and produced a reasonable current. She reminded us all that she couldn't swim. Friend B whipped out her iPhone to update facebook status and text friends about our situation (a reply from a mutual friend: "oh noes! i can has dry? hello to girls in a taxiboat!"). Friend C became increasingly concerned about the large damp patch that was forming at her feet while the taxi driver assured us that the car was waterproof.
We sat for an hour while a people-carrier taxi from the same company approached from the other side of the burst river and decided it was too deep and wide to be able to rescue us. Another car sat some way behind us on dry land flashing their lights (were they alerting other drivers or were they gloating to us that they weren't stuck? We never found out). Eventually a tractor from a local farm came along, and the farmer gallantly towed us back to his farm before going off to rescue more drivers of a foolhardy disposition. The people-carrier taxi took us home, for free.
Luckily the next day was dry, the view was beautiful, the burst river had entirely disappeared, and I went to work while the girls partook in some shopping before heading back to the city. I found out later that the taxi's engine was totally wrecked to a cost of £5000 and our driver was completely contrite about what had happened.
All this excitement with the taxiboat reminded me that I haven't held up my side of the "moving back home" deal. I need to learn to drive. I have been putting it off, but I really don't have an excuse now, especially as I have announced it to the public domain of internetland. I know it sounds pitiful but I am incredibly nervous about this, not just because of the taxiboat incident, but because I am scared of traffic. People assure me that it's not a big deal, "it's just like riding a bike".
That's all very well, but I can't ride a bike either.