I’d just passed a joyous wedding party in a side-street, tables of food and drink and seated guests, others dancing to a band beside huge speakers.
Earlier, I stopped to enjoy a glass of cold Beer-Lao given to me by a guest.
AND THEN …
Turning onto the main road about 100 meters further past the party, a young girl running in agonized shrieking.
Next second, I know why she’s hysterical.
Me among the first on the scene.
People running to the carnage.
Two bloody bodies collapsed by the motorbike and a small truck punched in – windscreen scattered—a glass web fallen.
Front passenger sits staring into space—not moving like a stunned statue, blood streaming down his face.
Sprawled on the road, neither motorcyclists wear helmets; one young man is fu*ked, and the other is dead.
The moment suspended in movie-scene surrealism.
In these seconds, I am helpless.
I don’t want to move the injured; surely his back’s broken; I can’t speak Lao; wish I was a doctor – others arrive.
More people gather, shocked, stunned, others frantic in action as Lao men lift the bloody bodies onto the back of the pickup truck then someone gets into the passenger seat and drives … towards hospital.
I wander away into the calmer night, stunned, as thoughts of death tease me.
Taxi motorbikes in West Africa
A few months ago, on the back of taxi-motorbikes often traveling remote dirt trails – across Togo, Guinea and Sierra Leone – I’d always wondered when this would happen to me.
Near-missing trucks; skidding on steep rocky paths; sliding into mud bogs; close calls hitting livestock and people; the constant danger of being thrown off the back of a bouncing bike.
Either by plain bad luck or a rash driving mistake, it could’ve all ended so differently for me in West Africa.