“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” I say as I approach the road my GPS is telling me I allegedly need to get on. Sticks and stones and boulders pointed their crooked edges at me, daring me to let my tires come and give them a goodbye hug.
However, at this point, I didn’t really have another option, so I continued down the possible death trap in the darkness. Tonight I was going to stay in an old, abandoned bus that had been flipped into a makeshift home. Squinting to read my AirBnb host’s not-so-specific directions, I came upon a fork in the road and made an educated guess. Pulling into what I thought was my campsite for the night, I went close to the edges of the lot scanning the different shades of darkness for a shape that may look something like a short bus.
“HEY!!!” Someone shouted at me, waving their arms overhead like a lunatic and racing toward me through the black desert.
Hesitantly, I rolled down my window as she exclaimed, “Whattaya doin’?! Ya kinda drivin’ ole ova my prawperty!“
“Is this not the Shanti Community?”
“Well, it is, but that part is gonna be next-door. Here, folla me! I’ll wock ya there.”
Before I had a chance to respond, she jetted off down the rugged trail, her fur boots leading the way. Creeping behind her in my vehicle, I couldn’t help but laugh. Was I really just gonna chase this crazy lady through the night and expect her to lead me to a safe home? Absolutely. I felt like I was in a video game following the leader to the treasure chest. Finally, after what seemed like forever, I spotted my bus-for-the-night.
My gracious host flung open the creaky door and I followed her onto the school bus like I was back in third grade again. A large mattress pushed up against the far side took up 75% of the room. The rest of the space was preserved for the fireplace, which I would soon come to learn would be the most important attribute of this abandoned desert bus.
“Do ya need sum fiyawood?” She quizzed me, as if I would have to be crazy to say no to that, “Here’s a few blawks, should get ya through tha night, but tha rest is ova theya if ya need maw.”
This is the portion of our conversation that I wish I would have payed more attention to, as, the next thing I knew, I was sitting in a cold metal box in the middle of a snowstorm that was being shaken so hard I couldn’t fall asleep. The wind rattled the clanky structure to its core, seeming to find every little crevice where it could shove more frigid air into my refuge. Now, wearing three jackets because the firewood had gone out and the log supply was nowhere to be found, I sat shivering and staring out the window, awaiting the sun to queue my departure.
“This is NOT what I signed up for,” I said under my breath as I took the risk of running from the bus to my car, reloading it with my icy luggage. I gave myself 72 seconds– no more, no less– to locate the coffee at the outdoor kitchen before getting hypothermia. Unfortunately, I’m not so great iSpy, so my morning began less-than-caffeinated. Now, I know what you’re thinking: If the bus only had a bed and a stove, and the kitchen was outside…..where was the bathroom?
You don’t want to know.