My wife and I had just gotten off the plane from a 38 hour trip. We were utterly exhausted but overjoyed that we had finally landed in Kyrgyzstan. We met 2 of our friends near the exit fighting off a sea of taxi men. We exited the airport and walked toward the van, having a taxi driver willing to “help” us. He put our luggage in the van, we paid him, and then we drove off. We chatted about how life was in Bishkek and how we were adjusting to the time difference.
We drove not more than 10 minutes on the bumpy road when I saw a road obstruction. Below an underpass I saw a blue damaged car on the right, and a large pile of debris on the left. I thought to myself, “We are probably going to slow down soon.” There was no change in speed.
“Surely, we have to start slowing down soon,” I thought. Still no change in speed. “OK, OK, OK, we have to slow down right now!” was my last thought. With no seat belts available, I clenched the wobbly seat in front of me with everything I had. We flew right in between the car and the pile of debris with a few inches on both sides! I was full of adrenaline as we passed through, keeping my lips tight to keep from yelling out.
A whole kilometer later I started calming down. It was after a while that I noticed how calm my friends were in the front seats. They didn’t flinch at all. This was my first experience of the driving culture in a foreign land. We drove 20 more minutes until we reached the outer part of Bishkek. I thought to myself, “I just arrived and I feared I was going to die in the first hour.”