marathon fail

This marathon is just not happening.  Not for lack of trying either.   Joey and I started training in July for the race at the end of February, but training for a marathon in Abuja is a lot harder than training for a marathon in Des Moines or DC.  The first five months of increasing mileage we fought intense humidity and the hot sun.  By the end of October we couldn't get up early enough to beat the heat; no matter how much water we guzzled or electrolyte-infused goos we gummed, I could only make it twelve miles before my insides felt as shriveled as a raisin.  Now the temperature has finally dropped to a comfortable level but the air is so dry that the pungent odor of burning garbage scratches my nostrils and burns my throat while I'm hurdling tree branches that have burst through the concrete, rocks, goats, and sleeping Nigerians on the sidewalk.  Running on the street isn't any better, because then I'm dodging crazy green cabs who are so distracted by the oyibo running on the side of the road they actually veer toward me.  Or honk like I'm in their way.  There is no such thing as a runner's high here.  You can't just zone out and run.  You have to constantly pay attention, or at best you'll end up with a broken ankle, at worst hit by a car.  So as much as I desperately want to rock that Kilimanjaro marathon tee shirt, it's just not going to happen this year. 

We have found one place in Nigeria with incredible weather:  Obudu.  A few weeks ago we loaded up the car with two other couples and an ungodly amount of snack food and drove to the Obudu Mountain Resort in southeast Nigeria for a long weekend.  The drive alone was an adventure; there's no such thing as road signs here.  How we managed to even find this resort was seriously a miracle considering every fifty miles or so we came across a traffic circle, where our friend O. leaned out the window and called to the hundred motorbike drivers buzzing around the circle like flies to point the way to Obudu. 

"Okada! (Pronounced just like it's spelled, okada is what they call motorbikes here.  Apparently it is also acceptable to address the drivers as, "Bike.")  Which way Obudu?"

"Straight," was always the answer.  Well, actually, it was always the answer when O. asked.  If Joey tried to ask for directions, the answer he'd receive was usually a confused look accompanied by "Ehh?" (think guttural noise a la Tim Allen in Home Improvement.)

But the word "straight" does not mean you actually drive straight down the road.  Because "straight" here is usually accompanied by body language that one might normally insinuate means left or right.  For example, Bike first turned his entire body all the way to the left and said "first you go straight." Bike then swiveled to the right, extended his arms and said, "and then you go straight."  Finally Bike oscillated back to the left and finished, proudly, with, "and then you go straight." Oh, thank you.  Now we know where Obudu is.

But by the grace of God, after eight hours on bumpy dirt roads past some villages with people who we'd all swear had never seen white people before, we turned a corner and the scenery changed.  All of a sudden we'd arrived at the base of a gorgeous, lush, green mountain.  While the car wound up 10k of switchbacks the view grew more and more stunning, and we ended up on top of a truly beautiful and peaceful mountain.

The pleasant surprises didn't stop there.  We rented a three-bedroom villa that was absolutely darling with its whitewashed beadboard walls and wicker furniture.  We drank wine and played games while cuddling under blankets and taking in the breathtaking views over the valley. Yes, blankets - the air on top of the mountain was crisp and clean and chilly!  We found a refreshing oasis at Obudu Mountain Resort; none of us could believe we were still in Nigeria.

See the rainbow?