It all began on one fine Thursday afternoon in September of last year. It had been raining rather aggressively the past few days and our dirt roads were just a little bit too much like dirty swimming pools for most people to want to be out and about enjoying nature. I on the other hand had been feeling cooped up for days on end and was just itching to get outside. It was probably the long stay indoors that made me a little extra crazy, but I was feeling the need for a bit of excitement, adventure, and fresh air.
Before I joined Peace Corps, I had been big into triathlons and racing. Always one for doing things on the extreme side, I naturally participated in the Spartan race the first year it was offered in the Boston area and loved it! Mountains, mud, fire pits, barbed wire, scaling walls, and a fight to the death (with foam sticks) define that event pretty well. So, after being bored for so long in my little village house (not to mention stuck in the role of a woman in Fiji - not capable of much more than wearing skirts and doing laundry), how could I resist the tempting and dangerous weather conditions inviting me out for some adventurous nonsense?
I donned my running shoes, wrapped my sulu around my waist and stepped into the pelting rain. As I walked down the village road to the bus stop where I tie my sulu before starting, people called to me from their doorways or underneath their outdoor kitchen sheds asking me where I was going. I usually run in the afternoons but undoubtedly the villagers were a little disbelieving of the fact that I could possibly want to do such a crazy thing in such inclement weather.
I strut my way past – what a little rebel, I thought, snickering to myself. When I got to the bus stand, I tied off my sulu, skipped my warm up stretch, and just bounded off up the mud slick that was once our road. There were enough firm areas to make running possible, finding them and dodging puddles became a little game. I was practically sprinting I was having so much fun. Of course that died down as soon as my breath ran out around the two mile mark. At which point it became a much slower hopscotch battle and, unbelievably, I started to get bored.
Looking around through the sheets of rain I noticed that I had arrived at a bush path that I had once followed with some villagers to collect some ferns for cooking. Hmm… dark, wet, and dangerous jungle or boring dirt road? Bush running in this weather? That’s an awesome idea! …or so it went in my head. I’ve been down here before and I’ll just stay on the path! Now I can have some real fun sprinting and leaping around like an idiot with not a soul to see me. Having easily convinced myself of my brilliance in endeavoring to escape the obvious tedium I found myself in, I stepped from the road, turned up the path and was soon swallowed up by the dense trees.
To be continued…