So I have mostly given up running here because the heat is crazy and the thought of adding to the already sweaty mess I am most days seems ludicrous (we are still working on the acclimatizing). Add that to the fact I have to be mostly covered if and when I do run and Taebo in our house most mornings seems a much better alternative even with the onlookers and laughs from the window. But I do miss it so much. Mostly because running always has been an opportunity for relative quiet, for reflection, thinking, processing, and prayer. Today I decided that since I was already hot I might as well go for a run. I changed, drank some water and headed out with cell phone in hand and started running along the main road near our house. First mile was pretty good, greeting everyone along the way and enjoying the views. Second mile I started realizing how ridiculously hot I was and I started wishing I was back home. After another 10 minutes I started wondering what they heck I was thinking running in 90+ degree heat 6 degrees from the Equator. Just as I took a walking break a huge truck drove by spewing smog, dust, and dirt everywhere. “Yeah, this sucks” I thought. I kept on keeping on and in front of me on the road saw the soldiers running towards me in a pack. We see them often running in full mismatched gear and boots and we often think that must be what hell is like…running in heavy clothes in oppressive heat. They always are singing and chanting loudly something in Kiswahili, of which I usually can only pick out one or two words. I was running towards them when the leader group saw me and started chanting “Mzungu, Mzungu, Mzungu” and by the time I was close to them the entire group of about 60 men were chanting and clapping. I suddenly could not help but laugh out loud and smile back at them. The leaders yelled to come with them but I kept heading in the same direction back home tired and not sure what cultural mistake I could potentially make. But after the first few rows of soldiers kept motioning for me to turn around and join them something inside me had a burst of energy &/or stupidity and said “what the heck?” I turned and they cheered as I joined them on their run. It was seriously hilarious. As we made our way down the road women along the way stopped and clapped and celebrated with me; a women among men keeping up with them. The best moment of my day was when a small older woman who I see everyday as she sits on the side of the road chipping coral rock stood up jumped up and down and yelled waving her arms in the air. I could not help but feel we women were all connected and empowered in a man’s world, even if only for a minute. The cheers from the women were better than a crowd at the finish line of a marathon. I only lasted about 10 minutes (hey, no judgements I already had run 3 miles) and had to turn around and tell them in Kiswahili nimeshachoka, ninahitagi kurudi nymbani (I am already tired and need to return home). I added a thank you and made my way back to our house. I was disgustingly sweaty and tired and my thighs hurt a bit tonight but my lttle run was truly worth all the effort.