24 November 2007

day 24 :: the crazy

Somehow, between Honduras (2000) and Rwanda (2002-2004), I developed a fear of cars. I’m totally a-feared of them. When I’m in Michigan, I write little notes to my parents sometimes to tell them to Be! Careful! The other drivers are Maniacs!

I think this all started when my professors’ dog got hit by a car right in front of us in Honduras. I still have not gotten the sound of flesh against bumper out of my head. Then there were a bunch of horrific accidents in Rwanda, including one in which the entire top half of a minibus was shorn off by a bigger bus. I would go into detail, but people might be traumatized. One time, I was driving a whole bunch of people from Kigali to Kibuye, where we all lived. Most of them were volunteers of one sort or another, and they were all crammed into the back of my mini-Land Cruiser. We passed an accident and there was uproar in the vehicle, uproar of horror, at the bodies lying strewn about. “They are dead!” people said. I didn’t stop, because the situation was under control. Some people were there who clearly were handling things.

But my Rwandese friend S., sitting in the front passenger seat, said, “C’est presque normale ici.” – it’s almost normal here. (Sorry for any horrible spelling errors. I’ve never actually learned how to write in French. I can talk, sometimes, but I can’t write.)

Anyway, the result of all this depressing death by vehicle was that I developed a fear of cars. They are big, you see, and they are made of metal and we, we humans, are not. We are made of fragile flesh and fragile bone, and we break so so easily.

I don’t think it helped that I just spent three years in New York not driving.

All of this meant that the 24-hour drive to Colorado to see my sister, overnight on Thanksgiving Eve, was a bit miserable. I was okay as long as I was awake, as long as I could watch the road and, by sheer mental focus, keep our car on it and other cars away from ours. But then the following things happened: 1. it got dark, 2. it started snowing and the road was covered in ice, and 3. I got sleepy.

Needless to say, what little sleep I got was not very deep, because I kept startling awake every time I heard a sound or felt the car swerve a little, because if I’m about to die, I want to know it. I don’t want to just wake up dead. (I do the same thing in planes, except related to the sound of the engines, startling every time they shift up or down, which is why I can’t sleep in planes, which is why it is a particularly cruel joke that I love living in Africa, which involves lots of overnight flights, often two in a row, and overnight flights in the ever-shrinking amount of space the airlines give you when you can’t sleep, and the resulting jetlag, are a torture I would not wish even on people I cannot stand and on whom I am tempted to wish bad things.)

But we made it to Colorado, and to my sister’s place up on the continental divide, despite slippery, curvy mountain roads, despite snowstorms in Iowa, and despite our many stops for coffee. Our last stop, on Thanksgiving morning, was in an Evil Chain Coffee Shop half an hour up into the mountains, where my mom and dad got the largest size drinks available (I have never actually ordered that size), and I, at last, got a gingerbread latte in a Christmas cup. (I have not been able to enjoy coffee in the last year. The amoeba didn’t approve of coffee and acted up when I drank it. Papaya seeds, however, turn out to be GENIUS. I haven’t even taken the actual prescribed medicine for the amoeba yet because I’m giving my poor body a break from serious medications and I have a cold, but I feel SO. MUCH. BETTER.)

This place is lovely. It is barren and stark in a way that I have never seen the Rocky Mountains, having always traveled here in the summer.

And now twice in two days (Thursday and Friday), I have eaten until I couldn’t breathe.

1 comment:

janell said...

you are in my colorado and i am in your liberia...
if you had told me that would be the case 6 months ago i would not have believed you! enjoy those snow-capped mountain views.