Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Bike Ride

       Its approximately hot enough outside to bake bread, and I am gearing up to go for a bike ride?! To top things off I had a mysterious wave of tiredness creep over me at noon and I fell asleep for 2 hours, hard, while lying on my floor (*note on this at the end). I realize I have a bike trip planned and i need to get up, but sleep is weighing heavily on my eyes;  I jump up and down a few times and attempt to shake it out.  Backpack with water, check, sunglasses, check, bandanna to keep some of the sweat out of my eyes, check.  But wait, Sal has the great idea to get whiskey and coke to take on our journey to drink at some beautiful spot along the way, so we do some circling around town first to find a bar open that will sell us whiskey shots (that we pour into our plastic coke bottles).  Yes, this should do us well in our state of dehydration.  But all for the joy of the open road.  All unnecessary needs accounted for, we ride off toward the far end of Dubreka and out along the road through the rice fields to the village of  Dofilila.
     The path is bumpy because of the ruts that trucks and rains dig out.  The scenery is very beautiful and panoramically distracting, but I remind myself to pay attention to the road otherwise I might find myself on the road.  Men are out working in the rice fields, gathering their harvest.  I've heard that if families are lazy and don't go to get their rice on time, there are some people who will go to steal it !  There are several trucks overflowing with rice stalks that pass us - each turn they have to slow down so kids can jump off the rice stalk pile and gather the bundle that fell off - others carry theirs slowly back by wheelbarrow.  White herons, hawks, and an assortment of chattering birds make this wetlands home. We arrive at Dofilila, a village of several thatch huts and one prominent hut to buy palm wine, and continue on through.  The path here is a little more foresty and lush before it opens up to the far 'port' (aka place where people have their boats).  All the dugout, long, canoe-like boats are pulled up upon the thick, exposed mud - I'm not sure if this is a planned configuration or if its the result of a storm, all the boats are pretty haphazardly placed.  Each boat has been affectionately named and painted by its fisherman, and the designs on these boats are long faded.  Some nets sit around, a hammock under the palm trees, but no body seems to be working today (Sunday).
      The road from this point turns to be parallel with Dubreka and the 'smoking dog mountain' and the other hills are in plain view across the expanses of rice fields.  I take in a deep peaceful breath, we can even hear the sea here.  Ah, this is my spot.  The road stretches out and we ride peacefully along listening to nature as there's no one else here.  When we arrive closer back into Dubreka we encounter more people harvesting.  An old woman passes me with a sharp digging tool balance on her head.  Kids play in the mud on the side of the road while their parents harvest.  Boys who are resting from the toil, let their eyes gawk as we pass by. 
Sal slows down I don't know why, and then a few minutes later he tells me I road right next to a python and didn't see it! That it was slithering along right next to my peddle!  He didn't tell me at the time because he didn't want to scare me.  I want to go back to see it but he says its already in the bush. I know I was busy looking at the scenery but how could I miss that !? Good thing nothing happened. 
       We arrive back in Dubreka and head over to Hotel Bagabonde which has seating right out along the wetlands.  Its peaceful, there are a few other groups of Sunday afternoon drinkers, and we relax into our chairs at a table set apart by mango trees.  Apparently the proprietor doesn't mind that we've brought our own drinks , and so now we pull out and enjoy our warm whiskey cokes and admire the rose colored sunset.    

(*being it so ridiculously hot here in Guinea, I have noticed that many people take mid-day naps lying flat out on the floor because it is cooler here than say on a hot bed.  The first time I saw this I was at my tailors, and I noticed a very large woman lying topless on the floor in the room behind.  I was a little perplexed - 'is she sick, is she 'ok,' etc - but then after seeing this bodily position over and over again I realize that its ok to be lying flat out on the floor like you've fallen down and can't get up again. So when in Guinea, don't be alarmed, and let people sleep happily on the floor.)

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