the wind at my face: a ride through the African countryside

I turned around to see them through the back window of the truck; my entire family bounced a foot high above the base. I mouthed to Madelyn, “Sit on him“. I was referring to my five year old son. It might keep him alive.

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Whoa, you need to slow down, I told the twenty year veteran American doctor to this area. He’d been there, done this ride before. He’d tell us that his kids would bicycle ride down some of these hilly roads. These roads qualify as a bike park, but with running streams after the rain…lined with shanty-like shops and women in long, colourful dresses with basins of charcoal balancing on their head; but this ain’t no suburban bike park.

Twenty minutes into the ride, we’d pile the youngest on our laps, and leave the other four in the back with a windbreaker to break the wind gusts, and rain. We already had four docs and me riding up front.

The look on my husband and the other American pediatric doctor squished in the back of that truck with our four kids told me everything. Slow down!

Red dust whipping in their faces, my husband looked spray-tanned after the forty five minute drive.

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This would be their second trip in the back of a truck this week. We were invited to a Sunday church service, so how else were we going to get there?

Along the way, we’d see one of those surprising contrasts, a cell phone tower stuck in the middle of a thatched house village.

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We’d see a healthy herd of cattle…

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And the requisite boy carrying firewood…

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We stopped at a missionary kid’s farm. She hadn’t visited her home country in twenty years and she was no longer a kid. She’d received a humanitarian award back in the States, but she didn’t fly home to receive it, instead told them to send the money to someone who could use it.

Who knew our Thanksgiving turkey was only a 45 minute drive away at this lady’s home…

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She housed a few donkeys in their own huts. This farm had the only baboon I’ve ever seen in Africa, wandering about her quaint African farm. We then made our way to an escarpment overlooking the valley.

The twenty minute walk was through red mud, pushing limping grasses away from our faces–they towered above Zach. He and Rachel would push back the grasses to walk up another step of tiered rock, climbing higher and higher till the mountain of rock looked like a playground for the Aztecs (yes, different continent, I get it). Partway through that walk, I realized we had forgotten to pre-load our body with Deet. I hoped this risk was worth taking.

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Indeed it was… Pictures do not capture what we saw. We could see the neighbouring country of Togo from where we stood.

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Mount Kenya! One of the girls yelled. No, not Kenya. We are in western Africa. That would be Eastern Africa.

The missionary doctor who brought us here, the two female Georgian docs and our kiddos agape at the view…

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The OB/GYN resident who grew up in the Congo…

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Possibly our Christmas photo this year…

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And what we were looking at…

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All this, only in Africa…

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