Me: So I’ll see you tomorrow at church?
Julie: No, actually I’m taking JB to do a 10K walk for malaria awareness. It’s a work thing.
(Wheels turning in my head)
Me: Can Pape and I come too?
And thus began the 10K (plus-plus) adventure.
This morning at about 8am, Julie and I met up and snagged a taxi to the starting point. With our babies, Pape and JB, we brought the grand total of people walking against malaria to about 3,000 adults and two babies. That is a lot of people.
I was amazed by how well organized the event seemed. There were t-shirts and waters being handed out and no one got mauled. There were maps of the route (in retrospect, should’ve grabbed one of those). And it started relatively-ish on time.
By 9am, we were taking to the street, bringing up the rear where it was less densely populated. But we did try to stick close to the mass of people in matching white shirts and caps in order not to get run over by the cars that had been patiently waiting (or not) for the herd to pass and clear the streets.
On the street, around the pothole, up on the sidewalk, back into the road, around the goat, over the jutting concrete, to the left of the garbage pile, to the right of the Nescafé cart, into the sand, out in the middle of the road, across the median, dodging the big bus… It was cRazY. I kept laughing when I thought about how in the US streets are actually blocked off for these things. Nope, not in Dakar!
At one point all 3,000 people had to wedge through this little width of sidewalk that had a pothole across it. Julie’s stroller manipulating was incredibly impressive, but even moreso was the kindness of so many people who stopped to help us navigate the route with the stroller and babies.
Pape and JB did great! (And their pack mules held up quite well, I must say.) Between the stroller, Moby wrap and Ergo carrier, the boys had a bit of variation to keep them happy and interested. And then it got interesting.
We stopped for a stroller-wrap exchange and when we finished, all the white shirts and caps were gone. So we jogged a bit. And again. And again. We knew where we were (near Casino Sahm, if you want to know), and where we were headed (the big BHS building). But connecting the two dots was a bit iffy.
After about ten minutes we started talking about heading home. At this point we were just two random toubab women in sportswear wearing their babies and walking through the Gueule Tappée neighborhood and getting some odd looks. But we realized four little guys, about 10 years old, were following us because they too had lost the pack. We couldn’t just hop in a taxi and leave these little buddies, so we kept hoofing it.
Two hours after setting off, we eventually made it to very near the 10K finish. By then the Dakar traffic was in full swing so we were, again, just two toubab women in sportswear wearing their babies and walking down a busy street. We decided to call it a day and justified that we had walked to catch the taxi, had wandered off the route and would walk home from church, so we would have easily walked 10K that morning. That’s 10 kilometers, plus the wanderings, plus two babies!
PS: I just checked Google Maps and we were only about 250 yards from the finish! I hadn’t realized we were THAT close or would have kept going! Oh well. Next year?