We stop for breakfast a couple hours into our drive. The dirt road divides into three possible routes and before we take ours, it is time for coffee and something to fill our bellies, as we left early, not eating before we started our trek north to Central African Republic. We decide on fried plantains and munch on them as bees fly around us, wanting some of the sugar offered to coffee buyers. In front of me, a young woman peels and cuts green plantains, frying them in palm oil, her deep pan set on top of a small charcoal stove made of coiled metal rings.
I like the cloth used by the coffee seller…trees on a green background. She has it wrapped around her waist, as women do here, creating a beautiful skirt.
I look around and everywhere is red dirt, like in an old western movie. Shacks made out of bamboo line the street in either side with vendors of all types, even at this early hour. Boiled corn, monkey, plantain, bread, coffee, local wine, popcorn, and so much more is available at a price. Beside me, on the ground, old corn husks move quietly whenever the wind catches them, which is rarely, as the day is quiet and calm, with the sun just rising over the horizon.
I turn to say something and I knock my elbow at the wrong angle, making me fold into myself, my head almost on the small table holding the coffee cup. I hear a small moan escape, joining the buzzing of the bees but I can’t even manage to swat them away. I hold my shoulder, willing the pain to go away, huddled in a semi fetal position, whimpering inside. I can’t imagine the pain away, no matter how hard I try, so, I slowly sit up, facing it, knowing it will follow me for a while this morning.
I focus on the truck right in front of me, slowly filing with people headed in the direction we are going. I am glad I am not joining them, sitting on top of jugs full of palm oil headed north for sale. They yell down, “molende!” (White person) and when I raise my arm in greeting, they cheer and yell as though I have done something fabulous, when really, all I did was raise my good arm in greeting. This happens time and time again, every time I travel anywhere, as people are quite shocked that I ride a motorcycle everywhere, especially to far destinations.
Coffee finished and an with an extra portion of plantains stashed in our backpack, we take another minute for me to slather on today’s first layer of sunscreen lotion before we continue down the road towards the Central African Republic, where I will catch my plane tomorrow in the early morning to Zimbabwe, via Cameroon, Togo, Ethiopia, and South Africa.