7 Days of Gratitude: Day #5

DAY #5: My


There am I, having driving lessons and thinking how boring, wasteful and
expensive it is to drive places. I miss being able to ride my bike everywhere.
I miss feeling the wind on my face while watching hyped up kids yelling
"TUBAAB, TUBAAB!" in the streets. I miss the freedom that Creed
Apollo provided me in Tivaouane. I rode him everywhere there, almost never just
for fun (Senegalese traffic is no joke), yet I had some of the most beautiful
feelings and insightful moments of my bridge year.

I bought Creed Apollo in October, with Kouly Mbaye’s help, and his
baptism happened after Ndella Mbaye made us realise he already had a name
(apparently he really liked boxing in his previous life, so he came to this one
as a big fan of Apollo Creed). It didn’t take me long to realise that riding
the bike had so many more advantages than walking places. My school was far,
the other school was far, too. The best bakery in town and the only westernized
market were even further. The buses hadn’t been working for 4 months (and
wouldn’t get back to the streets until February) and there was no other way of
taking less than an hour to get to work.

Creed and
I have met crazy people along our way, some of which tried to ride him without
even asking his name. Some others were a bit more radical and even tried to
destroy him, or steal his lock so he would be more vulnerable around all those
weirdos. But Creed and I never rested. We were always together, and that was
how it should be, until I realised I couldn’t take him home.

We then
cried together, thinking about how much we would miss each other after I left, or
wondering about the type of people that would sit and step on him only a couple
weeks ahead. We made plans of seeing each other again, disregarding the sadly
short lifetime of a common (yet special) bike. We felt time flying by as we
flew along the streets of Tivaouane. We shared the heavy weight of being foreigners
as some kids would try to stop us on our way to school. Most important of all,
we shared so many realisations throughout the year, about time, space, life and
people. As the wind freshened us and the sun burned our skin, we had time to
breathe, space to feel, people to greet, and a life to live.

Apollo changed my perspective about urban mobility, and now more than ever I am
a fierce supporter of bikes over any other means of urban transportation. I am
immensely grateful for his existence throughout my year, and I know I will probably
have a lot more bikes during my life (Insha’Allah), but none will get close to
everything Creed Apollo added to my life.