Day Twenty Eight: Eduardo’s Road To Fitness

I really suffered on my run.  My youngest daughter was pacing me on her mountain bike.  I got carried away. I tried much too hard to match the pace she was setting, I ignored the warning signs – every light on the dashboard was flashing red – The lactic acid levels rose uncontrollably and I blew up and my legs stopped working. Sara was oblivious to my state and continued chatting away but I could not take in what she was saying. I was in pieces. What a difference from yesterday when I felt so good on the bike.

I have had worse days.  About fourteen years ago I wandered into an army base, belonging to the People’s Liberation Army, in China.  Earlier in the day I had stormed out of the house, having had an argument with my girlfriend, and, in my wound up state, decided, on the spot, to try to locate a surf spot up the coast, over the border from Hong Kong, in main-land China.  Not one of my better ideas.

I never made it to the beach.  I took a wrong turn (for the record one of the worst right hand turns I have ever made) and stumbled upon a Chinese army base.  I was in the process of doing an about turn when two guys with shaved heads, stern faces and bayonet mounted AK-47’s confronted me.

They marched me down to the base.  I then had a fantastic time at the hands of a small chap with distinctly simian features.  Like all small monkeys he was extremely vicious looking – everyone knows the smaller the monkey the more nasty they look. He was the guy in charge, the commandant.

First of all he emptied my wallet.  Then he offered to ‘sell’ me some soup.  I politely declined.  This made him mad.  About ninety bare-chested army guys, wearing green trousers and sandals, surrounded me.  They looked like clones of each other. Then he pointed at my North Face tent.  It was a new freestanding model.  I mimed ‘Tent’ (go on you try it) and he shook his head.  So I started to build it.  The bare-chested guys started laughing.  He lost face.  He got mad.

A boxing match? He was smiling at me and raised his fists up, looking like a boxer from the early 1900’s.  The crowd parted and a chap that looked like Bruce Lee appeared.  Lean, muscled and ready for a fight.  I politely declined and mimed ‘guitar’.  The little monkey guy left in disgust as the troops whooped and hollered.  An acoustic guitar appeared.  They preferred music to watching a ‘gweilo’ get beaten up.

Not someone you want to pick a fight with

Not someone you want to pick a fight with

I tried my best to play some tunes.  It sounded terrible but they loved it. I played a song from the Beetles I think.  It was the largest crowd I had ever played in front of but not my idea of fun.

Monkey Man returned, he hit me over the head, kicked me in the legs and generally went a bit mental.  The guitar vanished and I was escorted to a wall.  It was full of bullet holes, pock marked and generally in a pretty poor state of repair.

Directed by my simian friend, the rest of the guys were then ordered to carry out an execution. Of course, unknown to me, they were told to carry out mock execution.

I was not having the best of days, and I was not feeling too good about the trivial argument I had with my girlfriend earlier in the day.  All sorts of strange thoughts entered my mind.  Instead of standing up against the wall, I squatted down on my haunches, thinking they wouldn’t shoot me if I wasn’t standing up.  Bizarre.

When things are tough, I cast my mind back to that day.  I can vividly remember squatting up against that wall with a line of army guys about 10 metres away from me, automatic weapons pointed at me, faces looking glum.  I remember looking down at the ground and seeing hundreds of cigarette butts on the sand.  Scores of tiny black ants were crawling up and over them.  It was a miniature lunar landscape. I can still hear the sound of the cicadas in the trees, the chorus of my heart pounding in my head.  Wondering what on earth could make a day that started out so normal, go so terribly pear shaped.

I’m still here, still alive. They had their little practical joke, it livened up their day and focused mine.

I really hurt on my run today but in the big scheme of things it ranks up there with having a sheep thrown at you on FaceBook 🙂


1 Comment

  1. Excellent post!


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