Okay, so every week since I’ve been in Bukavu, I’ve gotten lost on my Saturday morning long run. This week was no exception and it was a doozy. I really, honestly meant to do out and back, the same route, but somewhere I turned wrong and way overshot my return. So, I was out there, climbing and descending hills for a good 45 minutes longer than I expected. Bukavu is just a series of hills, some of them incredibly steep – at least the walking paths that everyone uses are very steep. I was really feeling it in my knees, though I’m happy to report that my knees feel fine today. So maybe this is really good training.
So, the plan was to run 8mi and to go up behind Nyawera market toward or to the neighborhood known as Kadutu. I did fine going out, though I did walk up 1.5 of the 3 sequential hills. It was nice that the shops weren’t really open because Kadutu is a very crowded area, but it wasn’t yet when I was running through there. (This is all relative, mind you. There were still plenty of people yelling out “mzungu, mzungu”, children running after me, etc. But I went back there later in the afternoon to visit the Kadutu market – the largest in Bukavu – and then it was wall to wall people. Literally there would have been no way to run.) I ran up and up and up, then down and up and down and up and many times came to roundabouts or intersections with 3-5 roads. I thought I kept going straight, but when I saw my route mapped out in SportTracks later, it was clear that I turned right at some point. My watch had given me the “low battery” warning before I left, but it still had 20%, so I was hoping it would last. At 4 mi I turned around (and the watch was still working).
After climbing the first hill on the way back, I got a bit confused and took the road to the right which I thought was a road I had seen from the *other* road when I was coming down and I thought they met at an intersection not very far away. But when I got to the next intersection, nothing looked at all familiar. Because I thought I had run straight out, I thought I could just “feel” my way back. After awhile, thinking several times that I knew where I was and then realizing that I had no clue, I came to a woods and had the choice to either keep moving forward and level or taking a deep descent. Totally baffled, I finally asked some guys (since, frustratingly, men generally speak at least some French and women rarely seem to and I do not speak Swahili. . .) and they said they would accompany me. I said I wanted to run, but that turned out to be folly as we were descending so steeply that it would have been unsafe. At some point I ended up ahead of them and almost went the wrong way (since I kept wanting to follow what looked more or less like roads whereas everyone walks on these sort of “back alley” paths that wind between the houses), but they called me back. Somewhere around there I lost track of them, but that was the last part of the descent.
Shortly thereafter, I was again confronted with a choice – this nice wide road that veered left which seemed to be away from where I should go vs. a footpath that went to the right, but where? Again, I asked a man (and then was joined by a couple of others). I had the great advantage of knowing that all I needed to do was get back to Nyawera market, which is a landmark known by all. This time, when I asked which way to Nyawera, they asked me if I wanted to go by car or foot. I looked at them oddly and said, “hmm, by foot, thank you.” “Would you be okay taking the footpath?” they asked. “Is that shorter?” I replied. “Yes,” “Then that’s the way I want to go.” Rather amazed, they told me to take the footpath and that would lead down then up to someplace, the name of which I didn’t really catch, from where I could descend to Nyawera. Going down was really quite easy and I got to run again for awhile, but when I crossed over a main road and started to ascend, I was back on a steep, narrow, rocky (and dusty) footpath. At one point I passed an older woman climbing up with a bundle of something. Awesomely strong the women are here.
I get to the top and there is a main road. I only have a vague idea where I am, so I don’t know if I should go right or left. There weren’t any people standing around except for 3 policeman in their bright yellow shirts and hard hats (they are quite cool looking, the traffic police uniforms). Taking the decision that they are supposed to serve the public and therefore would be sympathetic to me, I went and asked them which way to Nyawera. They said go left and turn right at the intersection that was about 50 yards away. I did that and voila! I recognized that I was at the top of the first hill above Nyawera. It was so nice to feel asphalt under my feet again that I decided to stay on the main road and not take the flatter dirt road.
Returned home almost 2 hours after I left and I have no idea how far I really ran because the watch conked out at 4.47 mi which was about 10 feet after I took my first wrong turn. . . I tried to map out where I think I went (there’s a big gap in the middle where I have no idea how I got from where I knew I was to where I ended up) and it looks like I probably covered 8.75-9 mi, though a heck of a lot of that was scrambling up and down hillsides, not running.
Another Bukavu adventure!