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Part II

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Hoisting

Zig-Zag

Steady

2000 Miles To Go

A Long Drop

All Aboard

Local Villager

   
    Only 2000 miles to go before I reach the Sea, I thought. I recalled the verse Mao once said. “You are not really a man until you have reached the end of the Wall.” In the most difficult of times when I wanted to give up, this verse was my mantra to keep me going. I wanted to prove to him, somehow, that a Conservative, Christian American was just as tough as a Communist, Buddhist China man. 
    During the Great Wall Tour, I figured I could survive as a vegetarian. But trying to cycle 18 hours a day in the searing heat, over a course that was neither fit for man nor beast, I found myself drinking up to 3 gallons of fluid a day, and adding to the rice and vegetables whatever meat I could find. With dishes such as: chilled monkey brains, bear paw, quail, pigeon and duck that included all parts, fish head soup with chewy eyeballs, camel testicles and boiled ox penis, China broke me of my finicky eating habits.
    All water was boiled, and that took an effort to drink in 130 degree weather. But somehow, I still ended up in the hospital with a mild case of dysentery. The next hospital visit came just outside a town called Yinchuan, the major metropolis of the Gobi. Cycling over a millennia old section of Great Wall rammed earth, an air pocket opened up, plunging me and the bike to the 10 foot bottom. I landed with a thud on a human skeleton that smashed to pieces as tiny asps darted away from me. The most poisonous snakes in the world, they're only about 6 inches in length. One bite from them and you have exactly four steps to go before you drop dead. I made a quick retreat.
    Arriving to where my teammates were waiting for me, I was having great pains and some difficulty breathing. I needed to find a doctor quickly. In Yinchuan, it was discovered that I had cracked a few ribs and needed to rest several days before I could resume the journey. This was not part of the plan, but I did compromise. In town, I met a young Chinese woman. We spent days together in which we could practice each other's language, and at night, she'd take me out to all the disco's where we danced until closing. I convinced myself that dancing was good for my circulation and ribs.
    But the day came when we had to resume the Tour. Peng was getting melancholy for Beijing, and Gao was getting restless. Too much partying, he thought, made one lose sight of the objective. That, and beautiful desert women. We headed ever Eastward toward the Sea and our true objective…the end of the Great Wall.
    In a village called Gaoshawao, there were actually more children than adults that lived in the dozen or so concrete buildings. In China, the rule about being able to have one child per household only applies to those who live in the major cities. In the obscure villages and hamlets of the Gobi, there is little government interference. 

(Continued on next page) 


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