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1.24.2007

getting the cool back

January 16

Getting those cool points back

GITEGA

I am up country doing a three day training. Making beginning level field traumatologists. My students are amazing. I will write more about them later. But first the fun!

This morning we were in town buying breakfast, Felicite had gone inside a restaurant to buy Sambusa (fried meat pockets – don’t ask what kind) and Gitega doughnuts. Cube shaped fried bread. Upcountry deep fried is the way to go for me – pretty safe. We are on the main square of town.

I was waiting with the truck with Emory our driver and Daniella. I got out and was conversing with a group of young Gitega motorcycle taxi drivers. This is a thing I have been practicing. We speak a bad mix of Kirundi, English, French and Kiswahili plus universal biker. The last works best. I have figured out how to tell them that I am in the club, and I praise their steeds and ask a lot of questions. They are all kickstart Chinese 125’s. The brakes and clutch are in the normal place but the shifter is a rocker instead of a straight up and down config. We were having a nice chat when I met the bravest young man in Burundi. He had a brand spanking new red bike. Chromed out. A treasure here, his livelihood, his manhood. And he looked at me and said “Muzungu – You Go?” And he kicked it and pushed the handlebars towards me.

Oh, sweet Jesus, Mercy, a chance. David N had asked me not to ride in Buja as it is very suicidal. But this is Gitega.

The temptation is a black hole. I smile. Say , “oya, (NO) not today,” I turn away, I clutch my gut. I whine pathetically. Emory starts shaking his head. Dani says “Resist! Peggy, Resist!” I try. I fail. I turn. Walk over and sit on the running bike. We are on dirt with a steep little cliff up onto the tarmac. I am not too sure about the shifter. Dani gets out of the truck, and stands in front of me. “Peggy, No, Don’t do this.” I try and logic myself out of this. If I crash this boy’s livelihood – I will really be doing an evil thing. If I crash me, the nearest hospital worth checking into is in Nairobi, Kenya. Logic is not working. I check in with Jesus – He seems to be laughing. I look around for angels. They all have bikes. No one has offered me a helmet, and the Gitega cops are all around me, arms crossed, blank faces. It is against the law What can the fee/bribe be? 10 bucks tops – So worth it.

I say to Dani “Babydoll, step out of my way, I am going to do this thing!” She steps aside, and in my khakis and African Explorer hat, I nurse the thing up onto the pavement, such as it is, and take off. The hat blows off my head – fortunately I have a stampede strap on it. My hair is blowing in the wind. Cars get out of my way. People scream and shout. I guarantee you no white woman has EVER ridden a bike in Gitega until this day. I take her around the square at full tilt. I cannot help the rebel yell that escapes my throat. Shops empty of people. Then I discover that the front brakes on this thing don’t really exist. With great pressure, the rear brakes grab. I slow back to where I started. I stop in front of the Brave One. He is beaming. The taxi guys are shouting. The cops are applauding. I give the bike back to the man with a nice Kirundi thank-you and a French two cheek hug. I get back in the truck. Emory looks at me like I have grown an extra head. Dani praises God for His mercy. Then Felicity comes out of the sambusa place, and gets in the truck without any clue as to what just transpired.

“Sorry it took so long”

No problem, Madame”

No problem.


Comments:
Oh, Peggy. I think I woke my roommates up laughing. Thanks for that. :-)
 
Amen, and Amen!
 
Haha! As temptations go, this is probably not the worst. I'm glad the bike and you both survived the adventure! But where was the video camera? This screams out for YouTube!
Your Friend, Martin
 
I have been feeling the need to be in continual prayer for you this past week. Now that I have read an account of your activities, at least I know why!
-B
 
zoom zoom babe!
 
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