We all learn how to ride bikes as children, and they say that once you learn you never forget. So it shouldn’t have been that hard when I picked one up in the village on Tuesday after having not ridden one for a few years, right? Well, I think it gave lots of people lots of laughs. Let me tell you the story . . .
As we’re starting to integrate into life in My Village, we are wanting to learn how to do things like My People themselves do them. One of those things is getting water from the pump. So when Mariam, my host mom’s daughter, was going to get water, I decided to join her. We started out with her walking the bike with 3 “bidons” (those yellow and green water bucket things) and me with two. But after a bit, we came up with an easier solution – she rode and I sat on the back of the bike. I just had to keep my feet up, but it was much easier for me. She’s the one who had to do the work!
When we got to the pump, we had to wait our turn to fill our bidons. When they were full, we took three of them back on the bike, pushing it home. It’s actually harder than it looks without much tread on the bike tires, since they slip and slide! Then we were about to head back to the pump for the other bidons and to re-fill up the ones that we had emptied out into the big barrel at the house. I offered to ride a bike as well, so Mariam got out her mom’s bike, and gave me hers to ride. Then I realized a bit of what I was getting myself into. The seat was so high up that my feet couldn’t reach the ground as I was sitting on the seat. And there were no brakes. Interesting.
I eventually got myself and up and riding and headed off to the pump. But there’s a little hill between the house and the pump, and so by the time I got to the pump I still had a little speed, so I dragged my feet on the ground a little bit (my feet got filthy!) and then just did a running dismount. Success! They laughed at me, but I didn’t fall or run into anything, so I considered it a success.
We then filled up the bidons again and it was time to head home. This time I had two bidons on the back and was a bit worried about stopping with them. Especially with the hill. But school had just gotten out, so a bazillion kids ran after me. As we were climbing the hill, only one kept up with me, and I told her to hold onto the back of the bike to slow me down. She did, and I was able to stop at the bottom (again, a running dismount) and arrive home in one piece.
The next day when we went to get water again, I again took a bike. But this time on the way home there weren’t any kids following me. I debated getting off at the top of the hill and walking the rest of the way home, but I figured I’d try riding down. I did, and by the time I got home I was going too fast to try to dismount. So I drove right into the courtyard, called out in Jula for someone to come and grab onto the bike to stop me, and kept right on going out the other side of the courtyard! I figured I’d eventually get somewhere where I could turn around or stop or something, but it was pretty quickly after that that someone got to me and pulled me to a stop. We then turned the bike around and came back into the courtyard. I’m sure everyone had a good laugh at the white lady who couldn’t stop her bike!