It is hard to describe the continuous flow of life using discrete events and benchmarks. How does an experience start? What about the held-over subtext gleaned from previous days? When does it sluf off? These questions are easily (and best) answered with cataclysmic events. I think TdA’s baptism came just last night.
The wind started to pick up around 19:45. I heard, and felt, the wind buffet the bus where we were working. The bus rocked gently, but the wind whistled furiously. I knew I hadn’t taken the time to properly pitch my tent. I anxiously gathered my things and resisted the urge to bolt for my tent, finishing a few plans for the next day. As soon as the doors of the bus parted, I felt the bite of the sand. Next I heard the sound of tents luffing like sails.
Almost as I arrived at my tent, my hands were busy twisting guy lines into bites and hitches I was worried I had forgotten. As tents around me lifted off I hurried to bury rocks to anchor my own. Sand quickly christened everything I brought to Africa.
Without the help of Megan, a rider who pitched nearby, I would have had a far harder time restoring structure to my tent. We quickly righted my nylon home and moved on through the group of foundering tents.
Some people were flattened with their tents, bodies moving inside as if shrink-wrapped. We found at least one other who was completely capsized, with only his head protruding. Others tumbled towards, having to be fielded like a skipping infield baseball.
Megan remarked, “I guess this is our first African experience.” As our group came together in the night to help people to reassemble their transient lives and transplant tents, it began to feel like the trip had begun. We each appreciated the emotional support that comes from simply sharing an experience, and we further still enjoyed the earnest assistance offered by those who recognized our frustrated utterances. I began to understand how I might make it through this long journey, buoyed by those around me.
– Nick Brennan