Erin's Tour d'Afrique Bike of a Blog!
An 8,000 mile personal and philanthropic adventure across Africa…

Mellow Yabello

Before departing Ethiopia for Northern Kenya, we stopped in the town of Yabello for a rest day. If you’ve never heard of Yabello you wouldn’t be the first person. It’s not much beyond a hotel, gas station and a few stalls enroute to the Kenyan border. The town did contain approximately five Snickers bars in total, and continuing our experiment in social darwinism on this tour, I was lucky enough to snag one and eat it for dinner one night. No internet (hence this delayed posting), and 65 already soaking wet TDA riders fell asleep and woke up to both torrential and steadfast rain during our rest day in Yabello. Yabello represented the peak of my somewhat serious week-long illness (now properly diagnosed and treated as kidney and gall bladder infections), and I was very fortunate to be taken care of by two absolutely fabulous women: The TDA Nurse Caro, and my indomitable fellow rider and New Yorker, Cat Hardee.

First, an ode to Nurse Caro. Caro is a petite, South African, tough cookie of a woman, who has short hair but a long smile. She is always working hard completing chores around camp, and has the not so enviable task of treating all of our saddle sores and other weird African maladies. Whenever we bike on dirt I always seek her relentless positivity and mountain biking skill set. She biked with Dana and me in the back of the pack through Dinder Park in Sudan, and she’ll probably get me through Northern Kenya too. In Yabello, she got me through a scary sickness, which is no small task when you are in the field making decisions on an expedition. My illness could not have come during a more remote and inaccessible time of the tour, and Caro impressed me with her ability to diagnose and make balanced decisions about treatment. I have learned about a new type of pragmatic leadership while watching and learning from the staff on this tour. Caro, you rock.

Fabulous woman number two, Cat, who has been my roommate on many of the rest days. Cat is an outspoken, confident New York lawyer who can kick my bootie any day of the week on a mountain bike. She’s faster than any cat once we hit the rough stuff. We were all so wet and filthy in Yabello, but I didn’t have the energy to get out of bed, let alone wash or take care of any of my stuff. Cat to the rescue! I walked into our room to find Cat standing in leopard print underwear, talking to herself, washing out my disgusting, muddy tent with the bathroom hose in our excessively small shower tub. She then proceeded to hang all of our sopping wet clothes in a maze of clotheslines throughout our room, and told me to take a nap and she would check me for a pulse hourly. Now there’s a true friendship in Africa!

After Yabello, a quick two days of riding brought us to the Kenyan border at Moyale. “Border” is a bit of an overstatement- it was a rope across the road and I wondered if I really actually needed the Ethiopia exit stamp. I’d love to show the Ethiopians the US/Mexico border, but chose not to conduct any wild immigration experiments. I got dressed the morning of the border crossing and tried to bike, but was just too sick and had to get picked up by the truck. Per doctor’s orders, I’ll be in the truck for three to four days. This is metaphorically a death sentence for me- I hate the truck and don’t understand the people who ride it voluntarily. We are here to bike!!! But, sickness and injury are one of the unpleasant side effects of this trip, and you have to know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em, per the song. It’s time for me to fold ’em for a few days, but I’m hoping to be back and stronger than ever by Marsabit, Kenya, our next rest day.


3 Responses to “Mellow Yabello”

  1. Erin – feel better!! You are so amazingly strong. You had been biking for a week with these infections and now don’t even want to rest while you recover. Just take good care of yourself for the next few days so you can get back on that bike and keep regaling us with crazy, funny, sad, moving, beautiful stories again. I keep wondering if you’ll touch a snickers bar again back in the U.S…

  2. Er, sorry to hear you’ve been so sick. At the risk of sounding like my mother, please don’t forget how important and delicate your kidneys are! As the person responsible for making sure we can do Leadville together at the age of 80, I am (very seriously) requiring that if you don’t feel (much) better by the time you get to the next major city, you need to fly to Europe, or the nearest “millionaire” (rich people’s) doctor, get checked out, and rejoin the tour only once a well-trained and respected doctor has made sure you are ok. And stay in the truck as long as you are feeling a bit sick! Hang in there, you’re doing a great job…

  3. please please follow the medical advice you have been given. Your body is telling you to take care of it and it will take care of you in a few days! Your Mom will be flying out there with her medical bag if you do not!! Debbie

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