Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Paving The Way

Paving the Way, Day Four

Dear Friends,

Today’s report is going to be brief cause my dogs are barking, my throat is sore, and my back aches like you would not believe.  Today was our second 15 mile march, and most of us are really feeling it.  

We started out this morning with a good hot breakfast, cooked by the wonderful folk at Second Baptist Church.  I’m talking scrambled eggs, grits, bacon, and sausage.  Some of you know that I love hot sauce.  Well, Jennifer Steele, Housing Works’ Trinidadian Job Training Coordinator, made me her own special hot sauce for the road, and it flavored the grits like you would not believe.

Joined by our backup crew from New York, we set out for the Rahway Penitentiary, made famous by Rubin “Hurricane” Carter.  We had a brief speak-out there, listening to three of our fellow pilgrims as they described their experience living with AIDS and HIV while incarcerated.  From there, we marched another three miles to Merrill Park in Woodbridge, where we had a picnic provided by a local family.  Then the long march began.  

Much of our route today was on busy highway, with us clinging to the nearly non-existent shoulder or walking on what substituted for a sidewalk as the eighteen-wheelers roared by.  We entertained ourselves by getting them to honk to and AIDS and with a great new chant and a new song.  The new chant goes as follows:

Left.  Left.  Left, Right, Left.
My back is ach’n, my shoes too tight,
But we ain’t gonna give up the fight.
Bush has got the powa
To end AIDS now!

And our new song:

Hi ho, Hi ho
To Washington we go
We’re paving the way
For the end of AIDS
Hi ho, hi ho

We have two people who are deaf on our caravan, so we had great fun today translating our new song into American Sign Language.  We still need lots of practice, but we should have it down pat by the time we get to DC.

The highlight of the day was meeting with representatives of the Edison chapter of the NAACP and a dozen teenagers from the Job Corps.  We spent a half hour talking with the youth about AIDS and C2EA, with different folk, including Johnny, who chairs C2EA’s Youth Caucus, sharing their own experiences with them.  These folk joined us in marching the last four miles of the day, escorting us safely to Rutgers University in New Brunswick, were we are staying at the Second Reformed Church.  

There are two showers, but we are they don’t work.  Right now we are all too exhausted to care.  But marching on the road all day, we have discovered a new hazard of urban camping.  We’ve named it “Halls spit”.  Don’t ask unless you really want to know.


Charles King


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