Monday, December 3, 2007

biking through the bush

yesterday (saturday) some of the kaffrine area volunteers met up for beers and tangana sandwiches. even though i had just been in kaffrine the other day, i decided to go for it and what more, i decided to bike there, knowing that it is a pretty intense trip, about 15K through the bush but it has got to be done at some point and my fat ass hasn't done much strenuous activity.

just as i'm about to go the route i learned taking the charette the day prior, talla tells me to go a different way that is "moo genn yoom" (easier) because it goes to the paved road. i debate in my head for a little bit if i should follow his advice but figure what do i know about the bush over somebody who's lived here for years so i take the road recommended.

i essentially don't know where i'm going so i can't really estimate how far i am going, how long it will take me to get through the bush, and what the distance will be when i finally get to the paved road. of course every village i pass through i have to greet and answer questions and deal with stares and comments and it's also quite amazing as to how far the news of my existence has gone. everybody knows me but i know nobody. at some point, i take the wrong road and am chased down by a bunch of kids who show me the right path. i suppose the benefit of having to answer all the questions about "fooy dem?" ("where are you going?") is that it is quite impossible to get lost since everybody and their mom (i love that that phrase is totally appropriate and accurate in this country) knows where i'm going.

i sweat and pant and suffer through the bush -- more than half the time i am plowing through sand and luckily it is one of the "colder" days because i am pouring sweat and can't even imagine how it would be if it were one of those searingly hot mornings. the ride is really freaking' hard -- up and down hills and through sand and everything in the bush looks the same which only increases the feeling of "WHEN IS THIS OVER?!"

FINALLY i get to the main road and feel triumphant and ready to take on this paved road to kaffrine. it is a long stretch of road but i've already ridden through the bush for what seems like forever -- it can't possibly be too far. i start biking and realize that my front tire is flat! not entirely noticeable in the sand (in fact, i've been told that flat is better for sand?) but completely noticeable on the paved road and makes biking 10 times harder. no worries -- i can deal. i'm trying to stay positive despite the fact that i'm sweaty, aching, exhausted, and very well aware as to how out of shape i've gotten in the short time i've been here (quite discouraging). every now and then on the road is a stone marker indicating how many K is left to the next major city and i approach one and can't wait to see how close i am to cold beer and speaking english and friends.

i roll up to the stone and what does it say? 10K. kind of disheartening as i was expecting something like 4 or 5K left. the road just seems to stretch on forever with little sign of any city or town in sight and there are big trucks whizzing by me and my tire is getting flatter and my motivation is dissipating. i'm at the point of no return though and the only option i have is to keep on going. at some point, a 7-plaas barrels by me with a gigantic ram strapped to the top and it is bleating its head off and i can't believe it but i actually say out loud (to whom??), "i would give anything to be that sheep right now!!!"

after two hours of plowing through the bush and 10K of a flat tire, i finally make it to kaffrine and am rewarded with seeing two of my favorite people (JC and shelley) and they buy me biskrem (biscuits with chocolate creme filling) and later we get beers and tangana sandwiches with egg, onion, potatoes, mustard, and adja with a bunch of other PCVs.

i don't know how much of me can handle the ride back so i decide to leave my bike at joel's and pick it up when i return to kaffrine to get my furniture. i go back to wilanene (JC's site) but only after sitting on a log for about 2 to 3 hours waiting for a charette to bring us there during which we are approached by a lot of dumb guys with stupid crass and inappropriate things to say and ask us. it is unfortunate how these dicks behave particularly because there are so many good people here but then there are these douchebags who are just so awful and make me angry and i want to kick them in the babymaker.

woke up at 6 this morning to catch a charette into kaffrine to get an al hum to birkelane for the luma and to meet talla for my ride (charette ride, that is) back home. we get there early but are so tired it is hard to be enthusiastic about greeting and walking around or what not. turns out talla did not go to market but luckily i can't do anything without everybody finding out so a gazillion people tell me this and they've all figured out that mbay (maybe talla's brother?) will take me back to d. that's nice. it's weird how sometimes that lack of privacy is so annoying but most of the time it has actually helped me out in the long run. everybody knows my business and somehow it works to my benefit?

we have lunch with thiam and his wife and i meet his brother who is a teacher and wants to help me with wolof. nice. JC & I are so tired and worn out (from what??) that we are definitely not as on top of things as last sunday but what is notably good is that even though i'm exhausted and hungry and not feeling well and spacing out, my wolof is up to par and i can have conversations -- unlike the times where as soon as i lost focus i was completely unable to speak. i think it is an improvement or at least an indication of getting used to things.

i manage to remember that talla brings back oranges for everybody every sunday and do that as my sariche (a gift one brings back from having been away) and that was a totally good idea and everybody was happy. i am really really tired and i think tomorrow i go to kaffrine AGAIN to pick up furniture, inshallah.

1 comment:

Branden said...

This dosage of adventure is more than I could hope for in a week in the states. I hope the beers and tangana sandwiches were worth the heat, exhaustion, and 10km flat tire. Definitely makes for a great story over drinks. How is it that "family business" travels so quickly over 15 km?