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Sunday, January 4, 2009

First chapter of our (hopeful) book about our adventure honeymoon trip around the world!

My heart was pounding in this unrecognized country as my wife and I left the windowless room and walked down the stark concrete hallway with explicit instructions to bring our valuables back with us. She had just verbally dueled in four languages with the two armed, threatening and corrupt army officers who insisted we hand over our computer and all our money. She asked under her breath “do you have the passports?” I had cautiously retrieved our passports from the official’s desk during her heated diversion, as per her plans. I let her know they were in my pocket.

She quietly but forcefully instructed: “When we get to our bikes, put your helmet on, start the motorcycle, and make a run for it.” My heart beat faster and louder in response to her audacity as we passed a couple similar enclosures identified in English and Cyrillic as ‘Interrogation Room’. Tension built as we opened the door into the afternoon sunlight, walked past the guard tower where I had been alternately berated and ignored by the Patton-like General and his AK-47 toting subordinates overseeing the place. I had earlier been told in no uncertain terms to check in with them (and pay them off) before leaving. I stared straight ahead and went towards the two adventure motorcycles, one red, one blue, both stacked with gear, metal panniers, tankbags, and spare tires on the far side of the parking area.

We tried to act casual as we got to the bikes, and I asked “are you sure?” There was finality in her tone as she responded “I’m not giving these bastards anything more”. We swung legs over our steeds, and rode slowly in our usual pattern of me in front, Clara behind, as we headed towards the guard protecting the exit of the country across the long border bridge. Before we finished the thirty second ride, I already sensed a commotion behind me. I slowed down and came to a stop beside the young neatly dressed sentry, killing the engine with my handlebar switch but leaving the key locked in ignition mode. His heavy accent on my clutch side barked out “Passport”. While twisting and sweeping my arm to the left, I said in words I knew he wouldn’t understand “they checked the passports back there” as I indicated and looked behind me.

In the foreground was Clara, her bike still running; in the background I could see our interrogators emerging from the building, heading our way and beginning to cause a ruckus. Quickly I asked her what she wanted to do and she exasperatedly exclaimed “Just go!” During this rear viewing my right thumb had instinctively put my kill switch into ‘on’ mode.

As I turned forward the sentry looked back, his eyes and my eyes crossed paths and a torrent of information was exchanged in hundredths of a second. I could sense that he knew something was wrong but he was initially perplexed. I could see him processing multiple inputs as fast as his synapses would fire: number one was that my eyes gave away that I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to, number two was that his bosses were yelling at him about something, number 3 was the realization that his bosses were yelling about me, number 4 was that I planned on leaving. By the time he arrived at number 5, and realized that he should stop me, we were losing eye contact as I looked forward and he needed to snap his neck back like a pendulum to the problem at hand.

The element of surprise was in my favor as I pushed the ignition button as he reactively reached for my key. I twisted the throttle and swerved around the gate while simultaneously a sense of terror and dread came over me as I hoped and prayed that he wouldn’t be able to stop Clara, or that Clara wouldn’t stall, or any of a dozen other horrible things that could happen but I didn’t have the time or fortitude to visualize in my mind. I looked back once I straightened out on the concrete and she had gunned her single cylinder bike with half the horsepower of mine right behind my tracks while the sentry had a discombobulated look and posture.

During this whole encounter which lasted less than ten seconds, my heart had raced like never before, my mind calculated multiple scenarios and actions at warp speed, and adrenaline pumped like nitrous through my arteries. As I looked across the long bridge, hoping there was another country on the other side my brain had time to slow down to just parallel processing speed, and I had two thoughts. One was the nerdy physicist side of my brain trying to determine whether I would hear the gunfire before the bullets pierced my back or if it would just come as a surprise. The second thought was that I had absolutely married the most amazing woman on the planet, and how special it was to travel the world with her!

5 comments:

Orestis said...

I can't believe this post has still 0 comments! My love and appreciation from Athens Greece to you both:)

rupendra said...

Kevin, This sound horrifiying...
Where this this happen?????

rupendra said...

Kevin, This sound horrifiying...
Where did this happen?????

Shawn said...

Wow this is crazy!!! Its prob a good thing you didn't mention this in class because the rest of the time we would have been digging stories out of you! Ill have to read more of your blogs to hear more good stories. I love your bikes too,

andrew said...

Nice article, Kevin whats happening

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