I’m running late to language class (not terribly out of character from the girl you knew in America) when I turn to sprint path near Hael’s house. Normally this particular dirty path disrupts my commute with tiny spiked burrs that slip into my sandals, wedge between my toes and force me to stop and remove them no less than 3 times on the 100 yard stretch. This morning, however, the burrs are the least of my concern.
As I turn onto the path I glance towards Hael and Anel and they wave from the end of the road. Then I notice someone else’s eyes: a man herding six enormous donkeys. We stand at opposite ends of the path blinking at one another. I get the distinct sense he is daring me to start. The reality is that I know I’ll get mauled by donkeys if we attempt to go it together and yet something makes me hesitate (Did I expect him to flag me through a polite wave? A greeting? A smile?) Lo and behold, he wins the draw.
For the next 4 minutes I wait impatiently as the old man whips his donkey herd up the dirt road. In Botswana-style, the animals all have their front legs tied together so they take a particularly long time hopping up the sandy path like rabbits.
Eventually the parade passes me and I shuffle down the path to class. At 8:05 Soma scowls and asks why we’re late but seems fully satisfied with my account of the Donkey-Delay.
I slip this into my reserve of Late Excuses That Fly in Africa.