Saturday, May 16, 2009

Feels Like Civilization...

It appears that Ethiopia is not the only place where I'm destined to get sick. Or any of us, for that matter. We left camp and the roads deteriorated immediately. The days we travelled to the rest day were now in reverse, so only three more days until pavement again. I wasn't feeling very well all day, and when I left lunch I decided to have a nap under an acacia tree for fifteen minutes. When the lunch truck passed a few minutes later, I gave it the thumbs up. I figured all would be well once I'd had a nap. I was wrong. It turns out that my roadside nap made me invisible to the sweep, so i caught up to Eric after a half hour of riding. The truck let him know that he had gone past me. I was slow and in worse and worse pain. About 15km from camp (neither of us knew how far we had come), we called for a rescue. It turned out I had diarrhea and a bladder infection. On the way back we passed by a corrie bustard and ostriches. I guess today was the day of the big birds.

In camp tons of tribal women were hanging about selling their beaded jewelry. We were on school grounds, and that night we would go and talk to the students at the school. They were all orphans and lived-in. Randy talked about tourism and how they could consider it as a viable career opportunity. We all introduced ourselves, and then the students asked us questions ranging from what problems we encounter to why we hadn't come last year - Randy explained it was because of the political problems and they all understood. One student asked us if we would be visiting our president Obama's home village. I guess Obama is now president of the world.

Actually, the Obama thing is quite funny. Everywhere in Kenya you see pictures of Obama, and t-shirts of Obama with "I have a dream" printed underneath. In Sudan, people were glued to his inauguration speech.

At one point during the night I woke up to visit the washroom. I did the kilometer hike to the drop toilets, and just when I was at my most relaxed a bat flew up out of the hole and bumped into me in an area where no woman should ever have contact with a bat. I have never screamed so loudly.

The following day I did nothing but sleep on the truck. I woke up once to see a Thompson's Gazelle, and went quickly back to sleep. Though our camp was beside the highway, there was no noise of passing vehicles in the night.

The next day I was feeling better, and so I rode the half-day. During that ride, the corrugation finally ended. It was wonderful. It went from corrugation to hard-pack, which I rode on until I came into sight of the construction people. I was a bit cheeky and would ride it right up until they spotted me and asked me to get off of their freshly graded roads, and once I was out of view I would jump back on again. As we approached Isiolo, we hit actual pavement. I wanted to kiss it.

In Isiolo the rains hit. You never really appreciate the drainage system in your city until you get somewhere where there is none. It was an instant flood. I went into the hut where Mark was hanging out to time-keep the racers. When it stopped I got out and discovered a flat. I walked my bike up to the store where it was rumoured that they sold ice-cream. Because we were changing our tires that night, I debated just hitching the last kilometer to camp and not bothering to fix my flat. At the shop, Hinchy convinced me otherwise, so we pulled it apart. This was a huge mistake. Apparently in Isiolo there is a huge glue huffing problem, and the kids were all over us trying to steal what they could. We got the tire together and the minute we did, it exploded again. Fortunately Eddy came by with the runabout and I tossed my bike on the top. Just before my rescue, Graham came in with his bike and asked me to watch it while he went into the shop. I wanted to say that I couldn't but he was already gone. It had been such a long time since stores were readily accessible that many came in wide-eyed and slightly lost at the wealth of purchasing possibilities. Imagine - pineapple slices, chocolate, AND ice-cream all under one roof.

The kids swarmed me while I was holding the two bikes. One immediately grabbed Grahams, and I had to pull it away from him and keep mine safe at the same time, and watch my bag on top of that. We made it into camp and there were actually showers. Mind you, the water heater electrocuted you a bit when you turned the shower on, and if that didn't get you then the wasps would. I got stung by both. But I was clean. It was worth the cost.

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