Thursday, October 10, 2013

Slipping. Sliding. Away.

I was warned, of course.

I was warned that this trip would be unlike any others because the monsoon had not yet finished, but I just didn't care. I thought to myself, if I am caught in the rain I'll just hole up somewhere and have a tea, rap with the folk and wait for it to happen.

And I am glad I did.

There were times when I cursed the fucking mud and it certainly gave me time to reflect upon the Biblical creation of Adam where God breathes life into a blob of dirt and makes a hermaphrodite out of it. I especially thought of that creation myth when I was portaging Charlene over an expanse of thick mud she couldn't ride through.

At one point the mud was so deep my legs sunk into it up to my knees and when I managed to pull them out I discovered that my sandals had remained in the earth, returning to our source. I ran barefoot with the bike until the nearest patch of grass and headed back to rescue my sandals, but in which quickly closing sink hole were they hidden? Frantically I plunged my hand into each and every one, almost expecting to set off a bombie displaced by the last rains.

Imagine the scene, if you will: I was on all fours with the sun setting and no place yet to camp, covered in mud. The primeval Adam could not have been more filthy at birth! My arms covered with goo and the only sounds were the sucking of the earth as I plunged into each and every disappearing indentation on the path. If a truck had come by just then I would have lost all trace and been royally screwed.

But, to use the French expression, "il y a un bon Dieu pour les ivrognes", and I finally plunged my arm in one last time and dug out my sandals. Saved.

And so I had diluvian rains, primordial mud ... all I needed was an attack by Amalek to complete the Biblical picture. Fortunately, this is Laos.

Everywhere there was the sound of wetness. Tiny rivulets of water along rice paddy embankments, small fish and frogs in flooded paddies, the sound of the tires as I splashed through the long flooded holes left in the ooze by trucks. Somewhere in her inner workings Charlene had water rolling around. Every now and then the rain would start; a gentle chatter at first and if the clouds were right and the winds were wrong and the skies could no longer retain themselves then the big rains would come. You could see sheets of it pouring down in the distance. And you could see it coming your way.
I was warned. And upon my return a lot of my friends scolded me for taking risks with my life and the life of my children's father. Their arguments are valid:

What if something happens to me and I am not found by someone competent?

What if I fall and loose consciousness?

What if the last, very last, totally last and forgotten forest tribe rebels attracted to the clickety click of Charlene's gears in the silence of the jungle decide to continue the fight?

I am grateful to my wife for being one of the few who understand my need for solitude, who understand this taste for risk. One day soon, I don't know when, she's going to go on her own vacation and leave me alone with the kids. But till then, baby I was born to run!


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