Saturday, October 15, 2016

Leaving Las Vegas

Tomorrow at 7:23am I am on a plane back to Rwanda.  I go willingly but not so much happily.  I’ve been in the US, way too long.  Way too much time to get comfortable, to enjoy the simple things of life, like getting on my bike and riding without dodging people, goats, horrible drivers, military vehicles and getting harassed by local taxi bike drivers.

I do not want to go back to combat cycling.

Yesterday I rode in the afternoon and decided to ride towards Red Rocks.  It was going to be a quick overlook and back, but I found my bike turning into the loop.  The weather, the time of day, how I felt, was a trifecta of perfectness.

In all the years of living in Las Vegas and riding the loop I had never seen a tarantula.  The past weeks I’ve seen three slowly making their way across the road all inside the confines of Red Rocks. 

Yesterday, as I was coming down the back, in the cool shade granted by the sun dipping behind the western peaks, I came up on what I first thought was a dog.  I said to myself, “Who left their dog to wander on the road?”

As I slowed down and rode closer I realized it wasn’t a dog.  It was a coyote: a gorgeous, curious, as skittish of me as I was of him, coyote. (Not an picture of the actual coyote...a little too scared to stop and do that!)

I am going to miss this so much….

I have ridden 55 hours, 771 miles in 33 days since the beginning of September.  The only days I didn’t ride were Interbike and traveling to/from the ranch, and a hike with the dog.  That is how much I love cycling.  In August, in Rwanda, I rode once, 27 miles.  Maybe that’s why I need yoga, meditation and therapy.  When I ride I don’t.

And my friends….I will miss my friends.

And Wyoming…I will miss you Savery, Wyoming and all the friendly people who want Mr. AM and I to move there permanently. 

When I was leaving Wyoming last week I stopped at Little America, a bustling truck stop on I-80 in the middle of nowhere Wyoming.  Something told me to check my oil.  I was born a mechanic’s daughter. 

When I lifted the hood, this is what I saw.  My text to Mark was, “Is this where my oil cap is supposed to be?”

I had driven all the way from Las Vegas where I had had my oil changed, to Wyoming (750 miles), around the ranch (another 200 miles) and to Little America (150 miles) without an oil cap.  Thankfully there was still oil in the car.

I drove over to the truck mechanic bay and was told they only carried 18-wheeler parts.  But being Wyoming, where everyone seems to help each other because we all know it’s not the easiest place to live, the mechanic called his friend over who told me how to get to the nearest Napa, 40 miles down the road.

And I was driving through an early season rain/sleet/wind/snow storm…

On the way I called the Napa only to be told they didn’t have a cap, but the guy looked in the system and told me there was one at the Napa in Evanston another 70 miles down I-80.  I called the Napa there and the loveliest woman answered the phone.  I told Diane what I needed and she told me, “I’ll be waiting for you honey.  Just ask for Diane and I’ll have your cap.  And be careful out there the weather is brutal!”

An hour later I was in Evanston.  And there was the Napa right where she said it was and as I walked in a friendly, “You must be Kimberly!”

I love Wyoming.

One of the sales guys came out to my car to search with a flashlight to make sure it hadn’t lodged somewhere in the engine.  He didn’t want to have me spend $10 if it wasn’t necessary.  In the end I spent the $10 and he put the cap on and wished me well.

Thank you nice people of Wyoming.

Living outside your culture is not easy.  Sometimes it just gets old.  I cannot speak the language which adds barrier one.  There are different ways of doing things.  I’ve never met a “Diane” in Rwanda.  Nothing against Rwanda, it just is different. 

This trip has made me appreciate the US more (except for the politics) and come to terms with some of the feelings I’ve had lately about Rwanda.  I have worked to find the best in both.  In Rwanda I simply need to realize I need to do things differently and expect differently and maybe, just maybe, I won’t get so burned out this time. 

And Bona’s coming back to Rwanda so of course that makes me super happy!  And Oogli Boogli boy, Jonathan…how I’ve missed him.  And Zu and Shaka…and of course our Kongoleeza. 

Different is not good or bad…simply different.  Time to remember that again.  And back to combat cycling.

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