Monday, March 15, 2010

A Good Day

Yesterday was a fun day, much needed, long overdue, unwork related fun day. The weather was gorgeous which speaks volumes during the torrential daily downpours of the current rainy season. I also was able to test my "fear" level with my first real motorcycle ride since my accident in Tanzania on December 21st.

We took off on the BMW Dakar 650 around 10:00am. This is one of the motorbikes brought up from South Africa on our trip, however, one I had never ridden on. We left Musanze, heading down the smooth, recently completed tarmac road towards Gisenyi. About 30k out we turned down a less then complete tarmac road heading toward Gitarama, 80k to the south. Jock had been on this road before, back in November. He told me it was poorly paved for 30k, dirt and bad road for 35k and then an amazing tarmac road the last 25k. I just held my breath....dirt. A flood of nausea overtook my empty stomach. I just smiled.

When we got to the 35k "dirt" section. The Chinese, who had completed the last 25k of road, were hard at work (well, actually the Rwandan laborers were hard at work) on this section. There were some sketchy parts, but mostly it was grated, a little sandy but fairly smooth. It still did not stop my incessant praying though.

The road will be amazing when it is finished early next year. It runs through fairly empty countryside with a significant amount of climbing and spectacular views. It is a road that confirms the name for Rwanda, Land of a 1,000 Hills. This road will become a stage in the 2011 Tour of Rwanda.

When we reached the tarmac on the other side we raced through the hairpin curves at 60-80k and over 100k on the tiny sections of straightaway. We stopped for a while along the road, had a drink, I got chatised for checking my email via iPhone (yes, I have a problem I admit) and just enjoyed the warm sun. I never thought I would learn to appreciate a day of sunshine so much!

When we reached the turn off in Gitarama we decided to retrace our route. We were at 130k, a couple hours of riding, I was feeling comfortable again and was not chewing a hole of stress in the side of my cheek anymore.

When we hit the dirt part again I was tested. The water trucks were out watering down the dust kicked up by the construction. Not water, not on dirt, please NO! There were several times I just closed my eyes. I could not get that picture out of my mind of me flipping off the back of the bike in Tanzania. I was breathing so hard I was fogging up the inside of my helmet. Can you pray too much? You think God really needs to hear, "Keep me on this bike 398 times in one ride?" Do you think He got the point?

Actually I was happy we went through it. After going through it, I relaxed. Jock had definitely been "babying" it on the way out, on the way back, it was back to normal. That was good. When we hit the smooth tarmac on the road back to Musanze he floored the bike and we tucked in and flew down the road 135kph. I just smiled and hung on. My fear was back in her box where she belongs.

The best thing about living in Africa is all the interesting people I meet from all over the world. We had met a family from Cape Town at Muhabura the other night. They are taking a year off with their two boys 11 and 12 and traveling through Africa all the way to the UK. What an amazing experience for their kids! South Africans are amazing people, extremely hospitable and just a lot of fun. They are keeping a family blog of their adventure:

In addition to the South Africans, Jock, Max and I were joined by Adriana and Olivia, neighbors, here from Mexico working as psychologists. How I would never want that job in this country. They are saints! They also make the best Chapattis (Rwandan version of tortillas). Molly also came over. She had just gotten back from climbing the active volcano in the Congo. Molly is super adventure girl, from the East coast, willing to try any adventure! She has also become my mountain bike partner to chase off the TB infested, germ incubator kids on the back roads of Rwanda.

Just another dinner in Rwanda.....just a day that keeps one foot in country and keeps me sane....until tomorrow.