sometimes, while biking across the magnificent and simultaneously bleak landscape of the south western region of Mali,
i feel an abundance of dread sweep across me. like the headwinds one is always seeming to push through, it comes upon
you with great force and leaves you unsatisified.
i rode into Kita from my village, just at 40 miles on a road composed of lava rock seperated by beds of 6in red sand,
and felt not only the hot headwinds but also the heat of uncertaintiy, forcing an unimaginalbe amount of sweat and
exhaustion, which was otherwise unexpected. there were patches of blackend grassland that, for some reason, i did not see
i was surrounded by the crackling, poping and screaching of trees on fire and orange charcoals blistering the land.
terrified and startled by what i was seeing, i hustled up many a hill that i may have otherwise dismounted and walked.
i could feel the black suit in the air seeping into my mouth and lungs and could feel its immediate effect my system.
my legs were already
caked with sweat and red muck, but now i had a purpleish tinge due to the airborne suit. it was, as i said, startling and
a bit scary. many of the trees alongside the road had suffered greatly from these burn-clearnings, which rural
folks do in order to scare snakes off deeper into the forest and "help" the soil for the next years harvest. trees
which were once lively, home to lizards and butterflies and greens and pinks and beauty, were now darkened by ash
and singed by fire. it was december 22nd when i rode in, and with the holidays just ahead of me, i had some scrooge
attitude issues, one being the fact that these impoverished assholes ruined my scenic ride. jerks. what would normally have
been lush and beautiful now resembled a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Lot that went for miles... and miles.
then, when i had really hit a low, i was 3 hours in and getting exhausted with small-back pains and flakes of earth
coming from my reddened knees, i came upon a creek which marked the begining of a steep 200 yard incline, one which
i was sure i could not surmount. as i tried to reason with myself, encouraging a break for water and granola, i spotted
a flash of red, coral, oragne, fantastic, life.
it was a bulb opening on a single branch whose other residents had fled with the fires. this one, perfect bulb,
bright and ready for life, opened as i got closer and closer to its magnificent 60ft tall tree... or what would
resemble a tree for its bark was greyed and blackened by the fires and its leaves had all fallen to the depths of
life. a shade of coral Marc Jacobs would die for. a shade of coral found only in the shallows of sea
water, fluttered by beautiful fish and other forms of fancy. and here it sits. one long, lonely branch, producing
enough life and a show of love to get this homesick, winter-blues stricken lady across a creek and up many other
hills, all the way to Kita, all the way to Segu, all the way to the arms of Dan and Megan, all the way to the voices
of family and friends.
blues be damned. i'm currently into shades of coral.