Big Up from Aribinda

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Day In The Life

Imagine you just woke up in a bed where the mattress is too big for the frame. You slept in the convex trap all night, probably snoring toute la nuit. Then, you go for an omelette with your friend to the local kiosk. As you eat this very sub-average meal, you are nearly eaten by flies. Your left big toe is infected, which the flies love. The amoxicillin you bought from the local pharmacy, sans prescription, is doing the toe good however. After crappy petit dejeuner, you stroll over to the boutique and grab a few sachets de l'eau fraiche. You run into the local doctor, who also happens to be the person who runs the hotel you are staying at. You greet him, see he has a leash in his left hand. You follow the leash down to its terminal end and there it is, a monkey. Pretty sweet one too, like the one from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The other stagiare shows up. She's a cool chick who graduated from Okla St. You and the two others decide to make the bike ride up to Bryan's site, can't remember the name, the next day. It's a 30 km trip. The next day, you wake up late, eat nothing in the morning, get on your bike with 2.5 liters of agua and your heavy Terra 40 on your back. The ride is good at first, hardly any hilly terrain along a rough clay road. It rained a few days ago, so you expect some road blow-out. Then, the wind comes. Then, you start feeling ill. Le ventre me fait mal. Your stomach rumbles. Having been sick for the past week and a half doesn't ease your mind here. The wind comes, harder.

A guy on a moto lashed to a camel passes you. You are a fast bike rider so you lose your compadres. You pass the guy on the moto with the camel. You stop and take a picture of the guy on the moto and the camel as he passes you. You start to crave water, although your stomach is feeling queasy. You get back on your bike when your friends catch back up with you. You whine more than Bryan or Cassandra because you feel ill. You start gung-hoing it, right into the stiff breeze. The wind comes, harder.

You get to maybe the 6th low-road point meant as drainage zones for water. The Sahel this time of year is pretty green. You see many Burkinabé tilling soil, calling out to them Bonjour! They yell back ça va? You say ça va. The Baobab trees sticking up everywhere are incredible. I don't think they compare to the Ceiba trees in the Central American rain forest, but they come close. You see this pair of Baobab trees mired in a barrage, many bird nests in the contorted limbs which sway little in the intense wind. You see wonderful birds. Yellow, red, green with blue hints here and there. When you stop, the goats take off. An African rides past you. After you saluer him, you notice he has a dog hog-tied and muzzled on the back of his bike. You drink some water, hop back on the Trek 3700, and pass the African with the bad dog, whimpering incessantly cause he can't bark. The wind comes, meaner.

You stop ahead where Bryan tells you. You start to swirl. You wait for your compadres. You drink your last bit of precious water. You take pictures of your backpack with the Peace Corps patch. You wait for your compadres. Cassandra and Bryan reach you, both of them walking. Cassandra has a flat. Bryan pumps it up. Le ventre me fait mal. You get back on the bike and start pedaling to Kevin's site of Dotoka, which is about 1.5 km away. You get off your bike and start walking with the others, you see the spires of some of the clay huts rising in the distance. Alec Guiness starts invading your senses. You hear Obi-Wan Kenobi say "Use the Force, Luke. Let go, Luke. Luke, trust me." You trust him. You get to Dotoka and Kevin hooks you up with a good drink. You down the sugary tasting liquid over 40 minutes. An hour after that, your stomach starts fighting an internecine battle. You use the latrine to no relief. Then, you wretch. You haven't eaten anything today, but you still do it. You pass out for 30 minutes. You come to. Every muscle in your body aches. You are severely dehydrated. You beg for ORS to replenish your salts. The rest is history as you daze off. You wake up refreshed, hang out with everybody. Then, the dust storm hits. You wait out the rain and have a much better bike ride back.

Just a day in the life. I thought about ET many times during that trip, due to the wind, my illness, and how I hate the food in this country, outside of benga, chicken, and brochettes. I dreamed of wrestling you dad, in between you and me consuming a cold Sirius watching Hard Ball. Then, Jake came in, asking for our help. He wanted to prep the Odyssey for a North Umpqua run. I heard mom talking to Evan about Spain. Then, I heard Howlie bark at something. Geez, i miss Oregon.


Alfredo Moreno said...

An epic blog post my man. Keep fighting the good fight and making a positive difference in the world.

Bill and I just returned from France where we were constantly humbled by our lack of language skills. I posted a blog/photos on MySpace as we went, but made sure to tell folks if they wanted to read something written with some actual integrity - is where you needed to be.


junderscore said...

Chemistry? Fine. Physics? WTF?!

b said...

Incredible narrative. I can understand how you miss Oregon, Mac. But what you are doing is amazing and I know that you realize and enjoy the beauty of it, despite the tremendous challenges. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. As always, it is inspiring.