Since I have been in Belize, approximately a bit over six months, I have borrowed two bikes. I have yet to purchase a bike. Before I left the USA, my plan was to have my Soulcrafts shipped to me. Now that I have arrived at my placement site for the next two years, that plan has to be adjusted. I live on the coast, and there are no paved roads where I live. The population of the village is about 2500, and the main form of transport is the bike. The problem is that rust is rampant here due to the moisture, and the climate. At this point, will not be shipping the Soulcrafts out. Mom did manage to send boxes that I left back in the USA to be shipped when I arrived at my posting, and in one of the boxes is my baby blue Soulcraft hoodie. That will have to do for now.
So, back to the borrowed bikes. The first bike I was lent was a hot pink s/s coaster with a basket. The Peace Corps Volunteer I replaced, had borrowed a bike from one of the other local PCVs, and that PCV was in no hurry to retrieve her bike. I rode that bike right up until the beginning of September. All during this time, I have been shopping around for a bike. One of the challenges is that I can buy a bike in the village, but the shop that sells them, sells them at a premium, which they can. After all, they have to haul the bikes here. I really haven’t found one at the shop I am fond of, and has all the accessories I need such as fenders, basket, and so forth. There is a shop that has the goods, but the challenge would be to haul the bike here on the bus, or find one of the locals with a car that can haul it back. The shop is about 2 hours away from me. I talked the shop owner a couple of days ago, and he said he could leave the bike in the box, but then I am faced with putting the bike together with no bike tools!
In the meantime, after riding first borrowed bike, my landlord has now lent me his bike. He has two cars, and his son lives next door and has plenty of bikes. No basket, and no fenders. There is maybe a trace of paint from the original paint job. The seat has seen it’s better days, as there is no cushion – only the seat molding. Ouch. The seat post is also rusted into the frame, the chain is rusted, and the foam around the handlebars is falling off. Needless to say, I have a bike for now, and it works. My work partner frequently borrows it at work, since he has a car and no bike now. Lucky for me, when he borrows it, he airs up the tires for me. Sometimes I think I should be ashamed to say I am a cyclist since I have let go of what tire pressure means. I know when the tires need air if my bike starts to roll slow. That’s my gauge. Go ahead, sure you are probably cringing as you read this, but there is something simplistic about knowing by tuning into the bike. The tires here are pretty heavy duty anyways.
My next door neighbors also borrow my bike. Yesterday, they borrowed it and brought it back with the tires aired up. Shortly after that, one of them came over and mentioned to me that my chain needed lube, and proceeded to ask if I had any cooking oil. I quickly produced my olive oil. He remarked that it wasn’t “1-2-3” which is vegetable oil and the common brand in the households here. I told him, no it’s olive oil. I don’t think he had probably ever seen nor heard of olive oil before. Really. Shamir then proceeded to lube my chain with the oil. Who in the world would have thought of that? I think it is awesome to be resourceful. Granted this is not a race bike, or even close to it, but what a great call. After my lubing my chain, Shamir looked up at me, and mentioned that he had a tool to work on my chain to make my bike go faster. My chain consistently pops off due to it being stretched out. I have learned how to put the chain back on without having to remove any parts or with any tools. I said okay, and he took my bike away. He came back with a relatively new chain on it, and showed me how fast I could now go on my bike by lifting up the back tire, and cranking the pedals. He then gave me a huge smile!
He also asked me earlier if I wanted to touch the goat he was holding my the horns in the yard. There is a pack of goats that roam freely around my neighborhood. I told him that I would leave him to touching the goat – he looked like he was doing a good job.
While I know I have not been the best at keeping up with the postings, I hope to do better in the future now that I am settling in. Can’t say that I will be doing racing anytime soon unless it’s on my coaster.