19 October 2008
AIDS Ride Chapter 2 : in which there is a lot of water under the bridge
19 October 2008
Omelettes and pancakes in the morning made by the ever-industrious and generous L & I. Yum yum. I definitely eat best when I’m at their house. They are so good at finding fresh ingredients and spending time prepping and cooking each meal.
R & K (her homologue) and I set off around 8.30am. The sun is already baking hot to the point that I reapply sunscreen at 9am onto my bare shoulders and toes. We’ve got about 25 km to go to get to F’s village Tchekpo. I still haven’t made it out to see him in village so I’m looking forward to checking out his situation. The road is paved so it’s a breeze coming downhill and not too difficult getting up the other side. It’s amazing how much easier it is to bike on paved road than the dirt, rock, sand and mud that I’m used to in village.
The reason I chose to bike is because there is no easy way to take a taxi – two of the bridges on the way to Tchekpo are impassable by cars because parts of the bridges have collapsed. Motos can still pass, but they aren’t particularly useful for transporting bikes. So we went along à velo, endured joking demands for payment to cross the bridge (taxi drivers have to pay a small fee, but pedestrians, cyclists and taxi passengers shouldn’t have to pay anything to the self-appointed trolls of the bridge). R commented that the last time she passed this way the roiling overflowing river below us was a tiny trickle, barely feeding the barren landscape enough water to support weeds.
Just before Tchekpo is a huge hill that quickly defeated R and I – we walked our bikes up to the top before remounting to search out F’s house. Sometimes the hills win and that’s OK. We found some food and chilled out at his place letting the hottest part of the day pass us by.
We head out again for the final 15-20 km or so to get to Zafi. We arrive well before the carfull of people from Lome so I get to shower, change, eat some popcorn and rest. The volunteer in this village, N, just happens to be from South Bend, so we have a little chat about the midwest, learning French, trying to develop projects, and tailgating.
When everyone else arrives, we spend some time organizing bikes and bags – one of the volunteers who joins us is COS-ing (finishing his service and heading back to the states) in a few weeks. He brought his whole stash of Skippy Super Crunchy peanut butter and drink mixes to share – what a treasure!
Man, I miss peanut butter. I just can’t find it in village. I asked a friend about it and she said that you need electricity to crush the peanuts – I’m sure that it could be done by hand, but I guess the effort isn’t worth the relatively small output and demand.
I had a lot of fun with drink mixes too – all sorts of neat flavors like green tea with mandarin, strawberry-banana, peach iced tea. Yum yum. It was great to have the sugar along with the hydration. Helps my body hold on to the water better.
We finished up the day with dinner at N’s homologues house – rice and macaroni with piment sauce. Rice and macaroni together? something I would never have mixed before but now seems to be a frequent meal choice.
We didin’t actually get around to talking about what we’ll be doing for our sensibilisation until well after dinner. We were all so tired that it was a really tough conversation (esp. since we had to hold it in French as we are working with local homologues and we have lots of different levels of French)