March 29, 2013
I never imagined I would see the day when I was ecstatic to be reunited with a polluted patch of pavement. But after a night of off-roading it, my little basket bike and I were thrilled to rediscover the busy road.
It’s been a long week. The sort of week in which everyone is overextended, and tempers get short. My usual teaching and coaching stresses have been compounded with extra teaching deadlines, and then we all have been consumed with the preparation for the Spring Musical, happening now. And what I originally thought was going to be a calm and restful Spring Break has now turned into an exciting, but slightly nerve-wracking, planning for a train journey and hiking trip.
I think this reality of the way the week has been left our little group a bit overly free-spirited this evening as we decided to go exploring after dinner. We didn’t have an agenda, and I think none of us was eager to get back to the paperwork that has consumed other nights, so when someone suggested we go off the road and see if we could find an old fishing village she remembered from years ago, the rest of us shrugged and said, “Sure!”
It went fine for a bit, with a path that was narrow but bike-able. People we encountered along the way gestured us in varying [differing] directions as we asked for help. And a few uniformed folks clearly just wanted us away! So we just kept varying our route heading in the general direction of a main road we knew existed. About this time, I made the discovery that I don’t do very well with slow, controlled biking on a narrow path, in the dark. I guess I’ve never had a reason to find this out before, so it was an odd realization to find that I can’t seem to keep myself going in a straight line when faced with this challenge.
At one point we came to a sort of bridge that appeared to just drop off into nothingness on the other side. But we carried our bikes up the steep stairs and then back down again, back to the dark little path we were following.
Finally we clearly were nearing town again so we quickened our pace a bit. Then we all stopped in disbelief. We were gated in, with no way through the barrier. All we could do now was turn around and go ALL the way back the way we came. We sighed collectively, and started out.
When we came back to that high-stepped bridge, though, someone saw a way to cross through to what appeared to be a construction road on the other side. We decided to try. Shortly into that route, I called out, “Hey, who’s idea was it to trek through the desert?,” as I realized we were slugging through the biker’s equivalent of sand dunes. But the path worked! Suddenly we found ourselves about to pass through a guarded gate that led back to a very familiar main road. The guards watched us as we came. We tensed. One of us said o the rest. “Just don’t say anything!” We all just crossed our fingers and kept going as they watched, perhaps wondering what sort of enforcement they were supposed to enact on a group of straggling foreigners. But they let us through. Once we had come a safe distance, one girl let out a triumphant cheer. The rest of us laughed. And I laughed again when I got home, into the light, and saw that my shoes and pants we covered in a thick layer of sandy dust ☺