Thursday, July 25, 2013


The mountain is on fire. Like, a big chunk of it.

I’ve seen a fire truck in town exactly 1 times, and it was more like a fire-minivan, so I’m not convinced it would have much effect, even if I could find it now in our hour of need.

I’m also not convinced that this is an accidental fire although “controlled” would probably be a much more favorable description than it deserves.

Meanwhile, since that fire is probably 6-8k away (that’s 4-5 miles for my metrically challenged friends), I feel comfortable letting my thoughts continue to be preoccupied by Paris. In a mere 44 days, I’ll be on a flight to Paris. 

Obviously, I’m pretty excited, but just now my musings are more on the mileage I just mentioned than on the Louvre. That 6 to 8 dreaded k: I'm anticipating my Parisian runs. Nope, that’s not an allusion to diarrhea. In fact, those kinds of runs I typically get to leave behind whenever I leave Africa (yes, there’s an ugly side to living in the developing world beyond general injustices like hunger and poverty). I’m talking about actual runs. Like, with my legs.

Let me start from the beginning: you see, my company is staffed mainly by the insane. We’ve got the guy whose weekend run is a marathon. We’ve got another who wants to see how many birthdays he can match mileage to age (at this point, he’s far exceeded his age and I won’t get into the actual numbers… it’s just upsetting). The entire Rwanda team runs with him. Last year, according to my sources, all of them ran further than they’d ever run before and at least a half marathon. Another guy is a world champion ultimate player. Still another finished the New York marathon first in his age group for Americans (okay, the Kenyans still smoked him, but still).

So that’s who I lived with the last two years. We also maintained a pretty serious “Taco Tuesday” tradition. Tuesdays, therefore, should have been the happiest night of the week, except that it coincided with “sports night” with these maniacs. So, my colleague Gazi and I revolted. We formed Team Sensible, the non-running club of our organization. In defiance of sports night, we followed up the Tuesday staff meeting with a “coke walk,” meandering down the block about 5 minutes to the stand that sold 500 milliliter bottles of Coca-Cola. It was beautiful.

And then I moved to Tanzania. And something weird happened. I started running.

It hurts pretty bad most of the time and I pretty much hate it. That’s probably why it’s on my mind right now. On the 15th of September of this year (that’s roughly 7 weeks from today), I’ll be trying to complete a half marathon in Sarajevo. We’re leading up to this trip with a few days in Paris, which means my final training runs may well be along the Seine. That’ll be nice, too, because instead of ralphing the physical incarnation of my nerves onto the lawns of the Greek Orthodox Church (oops), a foreign diplomat (sorry, Norway), or my neighbors (I’m not sorry, you jerks), it’ll all be washed away by a scenic, historic river. So, that’ll be nice.

Did you think I’d be able to cover forest fire, half-marathoning, diarrhea, and vomit all in one post?  You’re welcome, internet.

Finishing my first 5k.  I'm in the pink shirt.
See how few people are left?  That's cause I was way at the back.