Ellie Jo took her first ride on a bike taxi yesterday. I needed to go out to the shops at the roundabout to pick up some airtime for our internet. I thought it would be faster to just take a bike down than to take the car out. So I popped Ellie Jo into the mei tai and walked up to the bikes.
Right now we are in our short rainy season. It rains almost every afternoon, but the mornings and early afternoons are bright and hot. When we left the house it was sunny. The women we passed clucked over the baby’s bare head and uncovered pale legs. White babies must seem so fragile.
The gentle motion of the bike was so soothing that Ellie Jo fell asleep on our way to the shops. I enjoyed the “improvements” to the road, but still appreciated the small handles located under the springs on the driver’s (pedaler’s?) seat.
We had nearly arrived when the wind poured itself down the valley, gathering dust off the road and driving it into our eyes and hair. Ellie Jo’s face was hidden under of the carrier’s straps so her eyes were safe, but her scalp was quickly brown with grit and dust. Our driver pedaled furiously to finish the ride and I paid him without a backward glance as I hurried up to the shops and into their protection. I found almost every shop crammed with others seeking refuge.
(Theo just started watering the geraniums on the porch and the scent of geraniums is filling the house. Wonderful)
An old woman and a maize seller approached us. The woman entertained Ellie Jo with English/French jabber and sloppy kisses on her arm while the maize seller tried to interest me in a large roasted ear of corn. I declined the corn, bought my airtime and watched more people hurry into the shops.
Now I was faced with a dilemma – should I venture back out into the sporadic swirls of dust to try and beat the coming rainstorm or just hunker down in the shops for the next hour? Neither was terribly appealing, but the dropping temperature made a pretty strong case for getting my bare-legged child home.
The ride home was into the wind and the air moving past her face made Ellie Jo think that she couldn’t breathe. She inhaled with dramatic gasps when the wind gusted particularly strong. Now women were pointing to her and shaking their heads. That mzungu does not know how to take care of her child.
We beat the rain by 5 minutes. And baths were definitely in order.