Getting around

Sept. 26

Night had already fallen by the time we reached Zinder. We were sweaty, dirty and hungry but our only concern was finally stepping off the bus, which had consumed 14 hours of our lives. We searched through all the belongings till we had ours then exited the bus carrel and waited for our new team members to arrive.

We were expecting maybe a Peace Corps vehicle because of all our bags, but thought a taxi was probable. But when Alex, Ashley and Sarah showed up on motorcycles, I was stupefied and terrified.

Sarah took my backpack and pillow and told me to climb on the motorcycle with my travel backpack and shoulder bag. First, I put on the Peace Corps required helmet that blocked most of vision and allowed me to only look down. It might be better this way, I thought as I adjusted my glasses. Completely aware that it might be culturally inappropriate, I used the shoulders of the driver to hoist on to the back as the weight of my pack fought me.

The driver kept the vehicle in idle until all of my fellow new volunteers were on their motorcycles. I tried not to let the possible ways that I could die on this small piece of machinery float through my head, but they did. Once we were in motion, I focused on anything but the motorcycle, a technique I developed with two friends on top of an Idaho ski lift.

Shadows of lights were all that I could see as this unknown man carted me and my belongings through an unknown city. He could have taken me anywhere.

Speed is one of my fears. I hate going fast, literally and figuratively. Amusement rides and moving apparatus without walls terrify me. So this new mode of transportation that I have to get used to – Zinder doesn’t really use taxis – disturbed me a bit. The driver drove slower than I expected, I suspect her noticed my trembling legs and took it easy on me.

But, he took me to my new home, the hostel. I was able to hop off without falling over and handed the man 200 CFA for the ride.

It wasn’t nearly as horrible as I expected and maybe I could get used to it. I made it. The motorcycle experience, the trip to Zinder, the beginning of this new life, I made it.

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