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  • Writer's pictureJason Weening


“PUSH! PUSH!” the professionally-dressed man beside my wife said. 

No, she wasn’t having another baby.  

We were simply trying to move the Dominican bus forward. Again, “EMPUJAS! EMPUJAS!” That’s Spanish for “You push!”

Our family was on the last leg of our 6-month adventure on this island in the middle of the ocean. We experienced a variety of transportation here. The usual – planes, vans and automobiles. The unusual– donkeys, surfboards, ATVs through downtown and 10 people on a 150cc rental scooter.

We have been on the bus here a few times before. A relaxing, air-conditioned experience reading a book for the most part. The other bus rides were primarily in the bus. This one started behind the bus. My 11-year-old son, Sterling, and I were back there with about a half dozen Dominican men convincing the bus to leave it’s parking spot. After a night of rain the muddy lot was less than conducive for bus-pushing. Lucky for us it all went down hill from there. 

We woke up at 5:30am to get my beautiful wife and 4 of the kids to the bus station to catch the 6:30am bus. Despite cramming 13 people into our 5-seat SUV on a previous occasion we would be unable to do that today as it was now crammed with luggage. So some of us had to take the bus. My wife’s a real trooper. We were there early to ensure good seats for all. If you’re late for the bus you could be stuck on a plastic chair in the aisle. Less than ideal on a 4-hour trip.

When 6:30 arrived we were unable to see a bus in the parking lot. We were able to see a group of guys huddled around one of the buses in the lot next door. One of the buses was running and one of the buses was not running. This was the bus where the meeting of the minds was taking place. They began to push the not-running bus out of its spot. I assured my offspring, “They’re just moving it so they can get our bus out.” Untrue. That was indeed our bus. 

Sterling and I wandered over to give a helping hand. Pushing and sliding in the swampy mud we were eventually able to get the bus pushed out to the road which conveniently sloped downhill. After a few more minutes of Spanish analysis the men determined the bus had a battery problem. Maybe there was no jumper cables because a few minutes later a battery was robbed from one of the other buses and swapped with the one in ours. I can only guess what happened to the battery-less bus when they tried to start it later.  Our bus still didn’t start. More men came to discuss, more analysis took place, the bus remained parked on the side of the road, unstarted. 

One of the men suggested push-starting the bus. This was, quite literally, a foreign concept to me. I’ve helped push start dirt bikes but not 12,000-pound buses. By the time Sterling and I figured out what they were doing they were behind the bus shoving it down the hill and…Presto! She started right up!  I kissed Alli and the kids goodbye and they were off on a 4-hour adventure to another city…we hoped. What could possibly go wrong?

All ended well and I picked them all up a few hours later at the agreed-upon meeting spot. Sometimes adventure comes your way when you’re not even looking for it. Making memories and pushing buses. Another day in the DR. Dads, how can you make a memory with your kids today? Get out there and do it because time flies! Make every moment count!

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