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Rabi Red Mercedes exSC1551 Swanson 2005 MJarka

The red Mercedes as painted up prior to shipment but without the signwriting applied

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Comment by Takaniko Kaitetara Ruabete on October 22, 2010 at 2:39pm
You really need also to travel on Samoan buses during busy times of the day...and there are truly those times daily. Oh boy...was it enjoyable? Quite, I should say. Might be embarrassing for a foreigner for the first time but one gets used to it after several occasions. You will get it on your lap if you have a seat and seated comfortably...the "bums" - big or small, wide or narrow, tight or floppy, skinny or fleshy, old or young, man or woman, boy or girl...they will just sit on your lap with or without your permission when the bus is full. That of-cause doubles or triples the capacity too, and matter of fact too most of the Samoans are bigger than us Banabans...but the buses are strong for that. As Trevor said...the Samoan buses are truly versatile. Very true and very suitable for Rabi conditions and environments..
Comment by Stacey King on October 21, 2010 at 11:37pm
Great overview Takaniko of life for a bus on Rabi. I'm sure that one of the old Fiji buses is still the only and last one still operating when I was there last month. With seats meant to hold 3 people crammed with 6 people I'm sure the buses' capacity was doubled each trip especially on the school runs, and the reason I took my photos. You need to travel on Rabi buses to really appreciate the hard work they do under such difficult conditions pre and post the regular cyclone damage the island sustains on almost a regular basis.
But nothing beats the open air buses in Rabi and Fiji, best way to get around and catch up with everyone at all the different villages along the way. I love the way people hand children, kava, luggage and other items through the side open widows of the bus... which is something very unique to these style of buses and Island life in general.
Comment by Takaniko Kaitetara Ruabete on October 21, 2010 at 2:48pm
Cute, yes she is. Look at her...just look at her, beautiful isn't she. Boy...but was she supposed to be on Rabi? Right from the metropolitan roads of NZ to a rural Pacific islet of Fiji known as Rabi where tar-sealed roads will never be heard off probably until the next millennium. A real good environmental contrast for this beauty. If she had been able to talk we would have heard her crying and saying, "please why sent me to this very rugged and hilly island out in the no-where...", and when she struggled to get her passengers up the hill at Tongoriki we would have heard her saying: "...I told you...buff...buff... why brought me to this rugged hilly island? Look at those people walking faster than me to the hilltop...I have to tell them to get off down there so I can walk slowly uphill. I am really embarrassed...” May sound funny but it was to me. These were the same kind of buses I used to ride on when I was in Christchurch city (NZ South Island) few years back. Boy, they were majestic on those beautiful metropolitan roads. I got the surprise of my life when I went on an official trip to Rabi in 2006 to see two of them there – one red and one blue. I said, “what the heck are you two doing here?” My work mates from the Fiji Ministry of Agriculture and I went by the red one from Nuku to Buakonikai in the morning at which time the bus was normally filled with Rabi High School students. My work mates were actually praising me for the standard of buses serving on our island, and actually, I was...until we reached Tongoriki hill. Fact is not anywhere in our beautiful country of Fiji can one find this types of beautiful buses serving the cities, towns and rural communities. Anyway, at the foot of Tongoriki hill the bus stopped and many students got out and started walking uphill. So, I was wondering, maybe there is a short cut from somewhere uphill to the high school in Tabiang village...but it’s still quite a distance. Well, we started crawling up the hill and as we were levelling off at the top the whole lot of students were all waiting up there to get on again. I just managed to turn my face away from my work mates before they make comments to me. What the heck!!! In actual fact we saw the blue bus parked at Tabiang village when we passed through no longer able to cope. Maybe it’s still there by the roadside. By then also, the Pentecostal truck was providing transportation services for the Banabans. Since 2006 the two buses can no longer serve, just after 1 or 2 years after arrival and probably now adding to the scrap-iron on the island.
Anyway, nice to have buses on the island, nice to have them look cute too but should be adaptable. Adaptable to the conditions of the land, the weather and most important too adaptable to the conditions of the people of the land as well. We Banabans still have a long way to learn in taking pride in our possessions particularly communal ones. I like the buses in Samoa (2 photos posted). They are tough, strong, lasts and suit all environments of the land including the people. Even flexible to changes. Being left hand-drives driving on the left lanes on my recent visit to Samoa they are now driving right-hand rule with the passenger door shifted from the right side to just behind the driver on the left side of the bus...quite neat...and some of those buses have been serving the Samoan community since the late 1980’s when I first stepped on Samoan soil.
Comment by Biara Touakin on October 10, 2010 at 1:40pm
she's cute

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