I remember passing Kat at one point, thinking we needed to go a bit faster so we wouldn't be too late to the meeting. I also remember singing praise songs on my moto as I drove along. And then as we drove around Patuxay (a major monument in the center of town), I'm not exactly sure if I was looking ahead to the light instead of right in front of me, but all of the sudden- when it was too late- I saw a bicycle RIGHT in front of me.
I tried to swerve to the left but she must have heard my motorbike b/c she looked behind her at the last moment and also swerved to the left. Everything seemed to go in slow motion- as I hit the back of her bike and then the next thing I knew I was looking sideways at the pavement and as I saw sparks flying from my motorbike I remember thinking "this is it" and I closed my eyes as I slid along the road.
I fell to my left, and somehow, the motorbike fell to its right side. Unbelievably, no other cars were around! When I stopped skidding, I opened my eyes, and was surprised to note that my body still seemed in tact. I slowly got up and walked behind me to the girl I'd just hit. I was terrified of what state I'd fine her in- but miraculously- she was sitting there on the road, looking totally stunned, but in one piece. She was only wearing a little hat- and I'm so grateful she didn't hit her head at all. I helped her up and we walked to the side of the road together.
At this point, there was kind of a "hush" around us- and a large crowd of onlookers started to gather across the road. BUT, no one came over to us. They just stared. I'm sure they were quite interested to see what a foreigner would do... but it was so foreign to me that no one came to help.
Thankfully, my friend Kat was riding behind me, and she pulled over and offered a big hug. Meanwhile, I was trying to speak to this girl in Lao and repeatedly asked if she was ok and apologized over and over. However, she didn't respond at all. I thought she was incredibly angry with me and was refusing to answer. Then Kat used my cell phone to call my teammate and friend Sarah. Sarah was just about to go into the fellowship meeting herself (where she would've turned off her phone), but thankfully answered her phone! Sarah left fellowship immediately and drove to where we waited by the side of the road. The girl I'd hit finally looked at me and motioned to use my cell phone to call someone.
Next, one of my students (whom NSAC sponsors to study) randomly walked up to me and was like, "Suzy??!! Are you ok??" I was surprised to see her, but it was comforting to have a Lao friend there as you start to feel like a terrible foreigner who just caused an accident. She tried to speak to the girl also- and again, the girl didn't respond. Soon after that, we somehow figured out that this girl wasn't responding because she was angry, but because she was Vietnamese and didn't speak Lao!
Out of nowhere this guy shows up who spoke Vietnamese and Lao- so he stayed to help us translate. Unfortunately I didn't learn much Vietnamese language last year :( Sarah soon showed up, and my student brought some ice to put on my arm and leg... and I was quite thankful I'd worn capris (although if they can be salvaged they might turn into bermudas since both knees have big holes now :).
Everyone was asking if we wanted to call the police or settle it between us. We decided to settle it between us (as so many advised this was the way to go). So my student took my bike to Sarah's house around the corner, this 16 year old girl and I went to the hospital in Sarah's car, and this girl's friend whom she'd called took her bent bicycle off the road.
(hospital story + pictures + lessons learned: to be continued the next time I have internet)