Life on a tropical island — a great starting point for learning to love running. I want to introduce you to the story of Dorie Trimble — businesswoman, who dropped everything and literally ran to seek his fortune.
— After the lesson on entrepreneurship I change quickly. The light of the evening sun spilled through the blinds dusty Golden rays, I lace up my shoes, lock the door and hide the key in a jar of honey standing on the windowsill outside. In front of the house my neighbor Julia is burning a pile of leaves on the gravel, and wisps of smoke lazily rise up through the Royal palms and mango trees. Kunin dog on a tight chain goes in a circle like a Panther in the zoo, panting hard on the beaten, dusty path back and forth.
Every night the same, from five to six I lead classes from semi-literate eighth-graders studying the basics of entrepreneurship and business. In better days we drink soda and are engaged in artistic projects, not the best — mathematics.
At the end of lesson, I change in and out, until he managed to change his mind. On the main road I turn right, weaving between the gutter and gravel road; motorcycles roar by, the bikers turn around and look at me, and then disappear in clouds of dust.
The evening sun paints everything yellow and contrast, outlining the silhouettes of the animals against the sky and turning every smile and the look in the photo. I’m heading to baseball field — wide strip of greenery just behind the community centre, a few hundred yards from my house. On a hill overlooking a baseball field, is the area of Vietnam is a long row of houses and huts, located close enough to allow people to call me by my name from the balcony, but far enough away so that I could make out their faces. At this hour the sun is always shining behind them. They wave their hands, their black silhouettes merge, smiles indistinguishable in the shadows.
I wear headphones only on the far side of the baseball field. I pass by these athletes who come here every day to prepare for the competition, dreaming about the scholarship and about the game in the Premier League. I meet dozens of teenagers in worn baseball boots and t-shirts the Yankees. The smaller, timidly to greet me, the elders look askance and draw like fighting cocks. I know their coach is a friend of Maria’s-his-name Mogel, one day he invited me to ride horses. He endows me with his beaming smile and waves, I smile back. Here’re the runners, one of them has hands like roots of a tree, tightly woven muscle under smooth dark skin; and my cousin Yolanda is also here, making a banner around the fence, her little boy riding a tiny tricycle on a dusty track.
I walk the two girls with pigtails, running sprint up the orange cones, and on the far right side of the field put on the headphones. The baseball field is a kind of versatile pasture for animals; in the first round, I meet a herd of brown and white goats, which butt heads and push each other, and two gray horses with shaggy brown foal. Round the far corner of the field where three black dogs play in the shade, running up and down the grass. They fall to the ground, somersault and bully each other, out for your dog’s happiness, their mouths don’t close, flashing her fangs in pink gums, they growl, laughing and chasing shadows. I finish my first round and move on to the run.
I’ve never been a runner. I don’t like to quickly reach the goal, I don’t care how far I travelled or how many peaks were conquered. Once in Guatemala, I climbed to the top of the volcano and realized that it doesn’t matter to me. I better go two miles on some scenic place and will be back to where you started, then end up climbing two miles up just to say that we have achieved some tops. I love the mountains, but that doesn’t mean I need to see their tops. I love to move, but that doesn’t mean I have to move fast.
But life here puts me in situations that I could not imagine, and sometimes pent-up energy in me becomes too much; I run to release all the anxiety, the frustration, the unspoken comments and desires. I’m running to somewhere to direct your energy. I feel like this desire is leaving me with each step. Gradually my shoulders become slippery from sweat, the music leads me from one round to the next.
All this time the people watching me. Mary and other friends banned me from running anywhere, in addition the baseball field — a woman dangerous to be alone in the cane, and a few of my volunteer friends can attest to their horrible stories. So I come to the site and under the supervision of running around in circles from one end of the field to the other. In the pauses between songs I hear a suspicious young people who have come to El Vale from other cities to work out baseball, whistling at me, but even without hearing their voices, I feel their eyes on me. During the run my right eye, my eyes lowered, eyes on the muddy track in front of me, running eight minutes, then two minutes and walk and run again, not forgetting the breath. Everyone here has thoughts on my account. They watch my every move.
I run, and my freckled face burning, shimmering in shades from crimson to purple, covered with bright colored spots. A couple of times I notice people poke me with a finger and looking at it. If I want to run, I need to suppress his shame. They see me as a spectacle, and that’s the role I play in this hot town in the valley. If I want to get rid of negative energy, knocking fists on the concrete walls (but happened also such), I have to look forward and not think about it. I have to run.
At seven, all go home, except for children playing in the irrigation ditch, and I continue to run in a circle. Boy without a shirt throwing stones at mango tree, the two girls playing Patty-cake near third base. Chi Chi, a boy who attends my English classes, doing flips in the outfield, his movements precise and sharp. It’s hard for me to breathe on the neck of sweat. I focus on your knees, try to lift the legs slightly above so as not to stumble. A few more minutes.
On the hill behind the barracks the sun goes down. High and swirling clouds of grey and blue, and the sun is bright, which can only be at sunrise, from the blinding light flashed before his eyes flash when you look away to the side. Tied to a pole cow blocks out the sun. Her head turned, she froze, like in the photo. I run one lap, followed by another. This sunset, and the next, the same cow will stand here against the setting sun.
When I go back home, people greet me and say, “Oh, but you’re never practicing,” smile, commenting on my red cheeks and sweaty shoulders. I enjoy feel my flushed after Jogging blood, wide smile, a joke in response and not feel any pain is the feeling that I was being chased. This impossible a light puff of cool evening breeze on the body. From wind moisture on my skin evaporates, and for the first day I feel almost cold.
My neighbor Juana, a plump old lady who calls me hermana (sister in Spanish.) and sometimes he gives me two slices of yellow corn bread, giggles from over the fence: “are you Running? Yes, I can outrun you. In my youth, I quickly ran,” she swing her arms back and forth and running in place. “One day we will have a race from here to Gabarito,” she says. She repeats that joke every time he sees that I do, and every time I pass her house on the way back. But I still smile, we still laugh. Every moment is a kind of routine, leading me in a circle.
I wipe the sweat on the face with a t-shirt and squinted from the last beam of sunlight, filtering through the branches of a cherry tree, when I turn the corner of the house. My house looks the same as I left it — dark, quiet, the warmth accumulated during the day. I am surrounded by the sounds of the night: laughter and shouts of the neighborhood children during the game, the bleating of goats from their night paddock — more like children’s voices, preaching the gospel loud and obscene bachata on the radio. I unlace the sneakers, throws them to the side, drink water and watch the sun go down.
Tomorrow I will do it again. Tomorrow and the next day.