My memory of April 6, 2010 will be dominated by one thing: heat. The kind of heat that burns your nostrils when you breathe and dries your eyeballs to a standstill in their sockets.
This morning I arrived at my NGO’s office at 8:45AM, just in time to run into my co-worker who was leaving for a staff meeting in Daniel’s village. I was told that meeting was to start at 10AM, everyone would be there for the day, and I should come. One small hitch – the village is about 20km away and AJWS has a policy banning motorbike rides for its volunteers (regardless of policy, there were already two riders on the outgoing motorbike). While I wasn’t expecting my morning bike ride to be any longer than five minutes, plans change.
The last time we biked to the village it took us about an hour and a half. My biking muscles are much better conditioned now, so I was hopeful that I’d arrive on time for the meeting. After a short stop for water and peanuts (a nice kosher for Passover snack), I was on my way. This time I made it in just over an hour, arriving just as the meeting began. I also arrived right after the motor-bikers, who had been heavily delayed by a huge felled tree that blocked the entire two-lane road.
During the meeting, the room got progressively hotter. Even the Asians were fanning themselves. The village had no electricity due to the aforementioned felled tree, and so our fans were kaput. Lauren just told me that she had fans today and all they did was blow hot air, so I guess we didn’t miss out too much.
At 3:30PM it was time to head back. The return route is easier and faster, with more overall downhill stretches. Not today. My return trip was close to 1.5 hours. The day’s heat was in full force, and without electricity none of the shops even had cold water. However, I was getting all sorts of encouragement from the locals – constant thumbs ups, smiles, and words of encouragement from motor-bikers and shop owners.
I arrived home exhausted, but proud of my journey and very happy that we have air conditioning at home. A cold shower never felt so good.
At least I won’t be doing that bike ride later this week. As a reminder for our American readers, 43°C = 109.4°F.