Written by: Andrew Hudson

The biggest innovation in history? The plot twist. Storytelling has always been a way to connect with others and inspire change, but when our stories take an unexpected turn we are given an opportunity to learn and grow. In early 2014, CCI staff engaged in an online course though Acumen to build storytelling skills. We’d like to share stories of our teaching moments to help our partners and grantees learn more about the people behind the programs and how we think. Our hope is that this will encourage you to share your stories and teaching moments with the field to strengthen our network and inspire change in the safety net.

Meet Andrew Hudson, communications associate at CCI…

The most dangerous thing you can do in Nepal is take the bus in the hills at night. Climb Mt. Everest, hang out with AK-touting Maoists, brave hostile primates at the monkey stupa—just don’t risk the mountain curves, the washed-out roads, and the steep drops on a bus in the hills at night.

When I crossed the border from India into eastern Nepal, I knew all this. I had a plan. After taking a bicycle rickshaw from the border post to a nearby town, my traveling partner and I bought seats on a bus that left Kakarvitta at 3 a.m. and arrived in Kathmandu late in the afternoon. It was a long trip, and ambitious to try to go all the way to Kathmandu in one day, but we thought the timing should be perfect. Should be.

The next day our bus pulls out of town on time and trundles across the plains of central Nepal as planned. But at noon we pull to a stop. Ahead of us on the narrow road is a long line of cars, jeeps, vans and buses, stretching into the distance for several kilometers.

We’d hit a bandh, a politically motivated roadblock popular in parts of southern Asia where travel is difficult and police don’t have much muscle. Young men angry about the death of a local college student had dragged concrete breeze blocks onto the road, and planned to sit on them all day.

So there we wait, and wait. Hours pass. Kids come by selling snacks and fruit. We were in the middle of nowhere: no hotels, no markets, no shops. Just a couple of farm houses near the road. The sun sets. Finally, after seven hours, the string of buses rumbles to life and start moving.

An hour later we leave the plains and begin winding up into the hills. The timing couldn’t have been worse. Instead of arriving at our destination just before dark, we are now starting the most treacherous part of the trip just after dark—with a driver that is seven hours more tired than he should have been.

There is no moon as we careen through the hills; it’s pitch black, and the turns are terrifying. I honestly fear I might die.

We arrived, of course, safe but exhausted from stress.

I had made what seemed like a well-thought out plan, and in many ways my plan failed spectacularly. I learned not to trust tightly wound plans. The less room for adaptation you build into your timeline, the less resilient you will be if something goes wrong. Be patient. Expect obstacles. Good plans only work if you give them room to breathe.



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