Sunday, October 12, 2008

Kisangani to Buta - Day One

How many days has it been since a real, proper blog entry? I thought perhaps that I’d write separate entries for different days and different events, but Adam and I made a little list of things we wanted to make sure to blog about and I’ll just add things as I remember them too.

You’d think with a butt like mine that a long motorcycle ride wouldn’t be a problem. Ample cushioning! But no, you’d be wrong. I have pain in places that I didn’t even know existed! What a journey it was -- what an adventure. What an experience that I can live without being repeated.

We left on a Friday long ago. Four motorbikes were hired, though it felt like setting up a Rube Goldberg contraption in order to actually get on the road.

They hadn’t bought gas yet, even though we were supposed to have left already. They couldn’t port us over the bridge because they didn’t have the proper papers. But when we went to the location outside of Kisangani, they weren’t actually there, or ready. We received a phonecall saying that they finally had the gas, but were at the bridge, not allowed to cross carrying the gas. Then we had to send the car back to fetch them. What a spectacle!

Finally we were on the road. I’d imagine that a trip via motorbike over long distances in the USA is a bit different -- the road is paved, smooth, and the bike seat might be a bit squishier.

Surely it’s something I never thought about, but might have had I known. Squatting on the back of a motorbike alone is taxing on the legs and the thighs and the butt, but (but but) -- going over bumps and mud and hills and twigs and frogs and whatevers -- wow. It’s a whole new level.

The first day might have been the hardest too. I was still “enjoying” my time of the month, and the shockwaves through the whole of my body every time we hit a crag in the road was almost unbearable.

We’d left by 10 am and the total distance between Kisangani and Buta is about 400km. Banalia, a town on the way, is about 120km from Kisangani. We got to Banalia the first night around 7pm. I kept asking “Il y a combien des kilometres maintenant?” -- it’s a point where you feel so desperate and so alone and I’d kept riding to the point of tears merely for the sake of continuing on.

Despite remembering what an awful, tearful time it was, waging through the night on the back of my bike into the mud and brush, unable to see or think about anything except lying down, or going home, it still continues to be a revelation. And something I appreciate.

If anything, it helps to know that even when you reach your breaking point, and there is mud caked in your mouth and on your hands, and cascades of pain through your lower body, and tears streaming down your face and twigs in your hair, and you think to yourself, I simply cannot continue...

... you can. And knowing that even the limits you superimpose on yourself can be breached is a gift in and of itself.

We did finally reach Banalia, and found lodging in an old Belgian-built church. The rooms were small and sparse (including the bed, which was a tiny twin!) but to take off our muddy clothes and flop onto something non-moto-related was heavenly. (No puns intended.)

There was no bathroom in the room, just a floor-shower with a big bucket of cold water, but Adam and I sat together on the floor, and poured cold water on each other in the dark. And laughed.

No comments: