a morning in e.africa
i remember waking up just before sunrise, when the air is thin and cold. the faces of weary children emerge from the surrounding mud homes to fetch the day’s water. i grab a white t-shirt off the line, which i hung to dry but feels wet from the dew.
i walk over to uncover my motorcycle from underneath a large black tarp. sometimes small mice, frogs, snakes, or large spiders find shelter beneath the warmth of the engine from the previous night’s ride, they can be seen scurrying, leaping, or slithering away.
the motor is stubborn from the morning cold. it takes a few tries, you cant twist the throttle too much or you’ll flood the engine. you have to be gentle. but if that fails, a few harsh words and a couple kicks will get her going.
the ride starts slow, i’m not wearing a helmet, they’re hard to come by. i have to first ride out of the village, since potholes are too deep. the roads further out are less traveled, mostly used by the military who comb the dirt road so its more smooth. it’s a straight road headed north, that is rumored to take you all the way up to Egypt if you kept on it. i’m testing the limits of this cheap Chinese bike, given away as some charity. the motor is roaring, the handlebars begin to vibrate enough to make my hands feel numb.
100km/h… 115km/h… 125km/h.. the road is beginning to sweep beneath my feet. the bush surrounding the road is a streak of green. the wind in my face is freezing. my shirt is gripping my body. my jeans feel heavy. the road is getting brighter as the sun begins to creep up to my right. i’m chasing the horizon. the dust begins to rise as the dew dries. i’ll have to slow down soon or i will lose control. the motor is screaming, protesting against such harsh abuse. my arms are tense. the sharp wind in my eyes are making it impossible to see. everything is a blur.
i grip the clutch, subtle with the brake. downshift. downshift. downshift. neutral. the bike quiets, and gives an exhausted sigh as i kill the engine.
the road ahead looks the same as the road behind me, like standing in a mirror. i drop the kickstand and lean against the bike. the sun will crest the horizon soon. i don’t want to miss it.