Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Stitch in Time Saves Nine” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/03/08)
TITLE: COELENDABA - A JOURNEY
By Fiona Dorothy Stevenson
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Fact or fable? We had heard of Coelendaba, and when deciding on a holiday destination we determined to make our way there. We failed to find a map, but enquiries elicited a morass of information and directions, which we pooled and sorted until we were confident of our route. Planning, packing and speculation brought great satisfaction and much hilarity. There were nine of us, including the driver of our small bus. We set out in high anticipation.
That first day was hot, the sun unrelenting. But we had planned well, and when we found a shaded pool we picnicked and rested. Time was not pressing: we would enjoy the journey as much as we looked forward to our destination. By evening we had not found a suitable overnight stop, but were prepared to camp – until, that is, it was time to light the lamp. No matches. No fire to heat water or cook. Never mind – we had plenty of fruit and bread, and water is a good healthy drink.
So we traveled for several days, now and again referring to our directions, now and again asking along the way for further directions; sometimes making an amendment to our notes, sometimes meeting only a blank look and shake of the head.
The weather changed. At first hot and windy, soon we were in the centre of a cloudburst so violent we had to stop and wait. We could see nothing around the bus but water pelting down. Now we found that two of our group suffered from claustrophobia, and another from a fear of thunderstorms, and this was a thunderstorm to end all thunderstorms. We passed the time as best we might until the storm passed and we could see the devastation around us.
The road was littered with branches and debris, gullies of water on either side, pools and streams across it in low-lying areas. We pressed slowly on, afraid to increase our speed, unsure of the extent of the damage. We found that the car radio was not receiving any station so were unable to hear any news. As evening drew in we saw lights ahead of us and quickened our pace in relief. Too soon! A slip, a slide and a bang. We were off the road, lodged against a boulder which had punctured a tyre.
The spare was soft. We looked to John accusingly – this was his responsibility. He shrugged and spread his hands. At least it was not flat. If we were careful it might get us to town, where we could have both tyres seen to. By now we had lost the anticipation we had started with, and were simply determined to find Coelendaba: not to be beaten, not to admit defeat.
More miles, more days, some good, some bad. Until we reached a coastal town where we stopped for a much needed break in the travel. We were sitting around a table trying to decide whether to continue our search, or simply to go home. Opinions were divided. Then Harry said, “I know that Albert had a map.” When we turned on him he explained, “I don’t really know Albert, and somehow I didn’t like to approach him.” John said glumly, “I don’t believe there is such a place as Coelendaba.”
A passerby stopped, looked toward us. “Coelendaba? Were you going to Coelendaba?” We looked at him enquiringly. “Do you know Coelendaba?” He smiled. “I live there. I am here to meet a visitor who is going back with me. Where do you come from?” With several starts and no little acrimony we told the story of our journey. Emphasizing the difficulty in finding a reliable map.
He laughed, “There are maps, many reliable maps, if you know who to ask. In your town Albert, James, Peter, Mary and Dorcas would all have been glad to help you.” We looked at each other. Each of those names had been suggested to us, but we had decided against approaching anyone we did not personally know. He continued, “You have traveled a great distance, and suffered many difficulties. Now you must retrace your steps.” He handed us a folded paper. “Coelendaba is not so far from your home town. I look forward to seeing you there.”
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