There is a particular pleasure in long bus rides on unpaved roads with eighteen other people. It is the sort of pleasure that isn’t like many other pleasures.
It isn’t the simple pleasure of a cool, creamy ice cream on a hot desert day, sweetness dripping down the rough sides of the cone as the sun drips its own sweetness. It isn’t the unadulterated pleasure of a conversation that excites and connects. It isn’t the crisp pleasure of a sunrise over craggy rocks. It isn’t the exceptional pleasure of meeting someone–an old Ovambo queen, perhaps–from a different time. It isn’t even the rare pleasure of spotting a herd of elephants marching to the water hole as the sun sets behind them, impossibly graceful.
No, the particular pleasure of long bus rides on unpaved roads with eighteen other people is not as pure as any of these: It is a pleasure that is marked, too, by discomfort and boredom and frustration and fear and exhaustion–marked but not tainted. Indeed, it is almost made richer by these things, more nuanced, thicker. For the particular pleasure of long bus rides on unpaved roads goes beyond marveling at the vast and awe-some landscapes through the windows; it is more than the stories and community that build up inside the bus as road sails by outside. It is a pleasure that delivers us to many other pleasures, as those above. It is an imperfect pleasure that smells of promise and fresh Namibian air.