Proud Owner of a Bicicleta!

So I spent the last month and some change trying my best to be a good, frugal Peace Corps volunteer - refusing to buy a brand new bike because of the cost. Sure I have enough money to buy a shiny new bike, and sure I have family members back home who would have loved to “sponsor” my purchase, but I wanted to accomplish this using only the money from my Peace Corps “salary” without leaving myself starving for my next paycheck. [That's generally been my rule here because I'm really trying to live at the level of the people around me. Peace Corps pays us the same salary that teachers here receive, and I figure since I'm not supporting a family like all the other teachers are, I have more than enough money to get by on each month, as long as I'm willing to budget.]

 

Entonces (therefore) I spent weeks visiting used bike shops and asking everyone I knew if they had any friends with bikes they wanted to sell. What did I learn from this?

1. Pretty much anyone that has a bike that still functions has no reason to sell it.

2. The bikes that are halfway decent in a used bike shop cost almost as much as the new ones!

Of course I could have settled for one of those bikes with the super skinny tires and curved handle bars (like the one my dad still rides), but I already stick out enough here, and didn't want to draw anymore attention to myself by riding around on an ancient artifact. (Hehe, just kidding Dad)

 

So just as I was about to give up hope and settle for spending the money I've been saving for my future house purchases (yes I'm still hopeful that I will soon be living “sola” and will therefore need money to furnish a completely empty house), a friend came to the rescue! Josue, a volunteer from my PC group in the town over from mine, found someone willing to sell a halfway decent bike!! After getting new gears and a new seat, the grand total came to 700 cords!! That's just about $35! Sure, it's a tiny bit small for me, and it might not be shiny and new; but it serves it's purpose! Also, I figure if there are nicer bikes “parked” near mine, they'll get stolen first bwahaha.

 

Fun Fact: Upon purchasing my spectacular new mode of transportation, I began fantasizing about how peaceful and beautiful it would be to ride it to my school out in Chacalapa the next day. It's only 4km after all. Surely the birds would sing to me as they accompanied me out of town...the wind would be at my back, refreshing me with cool scents of banana trees and ripening mangoes...my students would be waving and smiling as I passed their houses...

Needless to say, my fantasy excluded the fact that I'd be riding uphill all the way to class at high noon when the sun is at it's strongest, right smack in the middle of dry season when the dirt roads turn into sandstorms at the slightest hint of a breeze. Did my students call my name and wave at me as I rode out of town towards the other school? Sure they did, and I loved every second of it. As for the harmonizing birds and refreshing breeze, I was too busy gasping for air, cursing my bag that kept getting in the way of my labored pedaling, and choking on the dust kicked up by the bus I could have been on, to notice anything else that was going on around me. Yeah...I showed up to school a sweaty mess, out of breath, with my face “bien roja,” and the whole world proceeded to ask me sarcastically how I liked the hills. Maybe I'll wait for the bus next time...

 

...Nah! It's downhill all the way home! =)



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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.