“We used to wake the boys up before dawn and make them run barefoot and shirtless in the cold of the winter for miles – it helps build character.” Those were the words of Margaret, the Navajo Indian we met on the reservation in Arizona. If her words were correct, David and Daryl built a whole heck of a lot of character yesterday.
It all started from our hotel room early in the morning as we were about to start our first full day of riding in Guatemala. Daryl didn’t get much sleep because he was having countless bouts of diarrhea and had to change his pants several times. The hotel’s water system was out-of-order so we had no water to clean with or to wash out soiled pants. We finally got the hotel person to get us a bucket of water.
We started out in the cool of the morning (maybe 85 degrees) on a 25-kilometer stretch of highway that was under construction. It was hilly and hard packed dirt, yet bumpy and very dusty. Soon the sun came up and it got hot. We’re not talking very hot, we’re talking about blazing hot and humid. I don’t think I’ve ever ridden in such hot conditions. While riding I had a slight breeze which kept me from overheating, but when I stopped I was almost overcome by the heat and immediately sought the shelter of shade. Just breathing in the air felt like I had a fire going on in my lungs. On top of that, the combination of sweat and dust resulted in a layer of mud on our bodies.
To make matters worse both kids had diarrhea, Daryl much worse than David. This necessitated frequent sudden stops along the way. While Daryl jumped into the jungle I was left standing in the sun holding the tandem. To make matters even worse, Daryl all of a sudden had a series of bloody noses. During these bouts we both had to face the wrath of the sun, me holding the tandem and Daryl laying down by the side of the road waiting for his nose to stop bleeding. Then we’d have to ride hard to catch up to Nancy and David. Poor Daryl!
At the end of the day we found ourselves exhausted and in a town where there were no hotels. With much relief for me, the restaurant owner volunteered to let us camp on his property which was right next to a lake. The day wasn’t all bad! I had no energy to set up camp and the owner said we could sleep right on his veranda. The concrete floor didn’t matter – it was late and getting dark and all we had to do it put down our mats and go to sleep after a quick, refreshing dip in the lake.. I didn’t sleep very well because of the bugs and heat, but everyone else passed out and slept like a log. I remember dozing off, then out of the still heat of the night a small breeze would stir. It felt so nice I woke up just to enjoy the cool wonder of it. Daryl’s diarrhea subsided and he didn’t have to get up at all during the night. He slept so well that when I woke up I found him off his mat and sleeping on the concrete!
Yes, I think we all built a whole bunch of character yesterday!