24 October 2008

AIDS Ride Chapter 7: in which Rose hits her limit

24 October 2008


in which Rose hits her limit

Friday was the day I despaired.
Going from R’s village out to the Kpalime road was only 19km, but it was all uphill. Occasionally the road would level out, but we almost never had a downward slope. I would push myself up a hill, keeping my eye on the crest – knowing that if I made it there, beyond the crest would be easier.
But every time I made it to the top of a hill, I could already see another upward slope only a few dozen meters ahead. I despaired. I cried. The tears closed up my throat, making it harder to breathe, making it harder to get up the hill, increasing my desperation.
The roads were full of loose sand making my wheels unsteady and leaving my sore wrists with the task of keeping me from falling with nimble steering.
Every bump and rock I hit trying to stay out of the sand set a jolt to my wounded forearm, occasionally making me gasp with the shock. For what is essentially a large, shallow scrape, rather a simple injury, it sure has been inexplicably painful.
By the time I made it to Keve I had descended into an awful mood – frustrated with myself and the fact that I couldn’t power up the hills, I began responding to people calling me yovo with my worst sarcasm: “Yes, I’m white, how clever are ! Well don, you can see skin color! Wow.”
It of course, really didn’t help when a lady on the back of a moto yelled “Tu es en retard, tu es trop en retard” at me. I may have tossed off a few expletives in response.
Knowing I was spiraling a bit, I tried to calm myself down and drink some water and laugh at my explosions. But really, the lack of good sleep all week, the injuries, the heat and the exertion was all just getting to me and there wasn’t much I could do short of going home and sleeping in a bed and taking a whole bunch of alone time.
So I bought a fanmilk (kind of a soft-serve frozen yogurt sold from ice boxes on bicycles) and gathered up the last of my sanity and enthusiasm to get me through the rest of the day.
We had a successful, although ridiculously over-crowded sensibilisation at the CEG in Keve before heading uphill to Assahoun to grab an egg sandwich and a beer. My group had hoped to get out of doing the final sensibilisation but B, the training director, showed up to observe so we all trooped along sweaty, dirty and (some of us) bleeding to try to inspire 800 kids to follow the ABCs of HIV/AIDS prevention. Then we were free to collapse into our beers and beef teriyaki prepared by M before tumbling onto our mats at 9pm for our last collective sleep.