Stranded in Bluefields

Its been a busy month. I finally gave in and decided to buy a bicycle. Our territory is very big and there are very few taxis around here. If there is more than one they don't run on the same day. Our meeting for field service is at the baseball stadium in Haulover every Tuesday, which is a 45 minute walk. Then on Wednesday its 30 minutes to Raitipura. And by now of course I have studies scattered in both directions.

There are no bike stores in Pearl lagoon, so if you want to buy one here it will be second hand. Seeing as the bicycles here are very low quality to begin with I thought a used one would be a bad idea. So I decided to make a trip to Bluefields and buy one new. The alternative would be to go to Rama to find one. Equally viable but its 5 hours by bus as opposed to one hour by panga to Bluefields.

I was also using this trip as an opportunity to visit immigration and renew my visa which would be due the next week. I left early Sunday morning. That was my first mistake. In hindsight I have made this mistake in the past, resulting in my being stuck in Kukra hill all afternoon on my way to pearl lagoon the first time. So, I arrive in Bluefields just before the heavens open up and it starts to pour. I am then informed that there will not be a second panga returning to Pearl Lagoon today. The one I came in on was going back, but in one hour, it was unlikely that I would make it in time seeing as how I had a lot to do.

I went to the ATM and did my banking, and then remembered that Immigration is closed on Sunday, so I was DEFINITELY stuck until Monday. So I went and bought everything I needed, and dragged my shiny new bicycle through the canals (formerly known as streets, before the rain started) to the nearest sheltered bus stop to wait out the rain. I called the family I stayed with when I was serving in Bluefields a couple years ago, and they very kindly offered me a place to stay for the night. Despite being soaking wet by the time I got to the house (the rain never did stop) it felt really good to be back in my old neighborhood and see old friends.

Getting my visa renewed the next morning went smoothly. It was still raining of course, but I was able to get the 3 month extension with hardly any questions being asked. All they needed was an un-folded copy of my passport and a vague idea of where I was living. And here is a picture of the bike.

It has fenders to deal with the excessive amounts of mud and water we ride through and a rack to carry things like water jugs, gas tanks, and literature. Once I got it to pearl lagoon I took it to the bike repair shop in town to fix all the design flaws. (such as the chain being too short, and pieces being in the wrong position). In all the bike cost about 3,260 Cordobas, or $128 US, or $137 Canadian. There are no return policies here, and you won't find a bike in any store that is properly built, so you just have to make due with what you find. So far the bike has been working great and has been extremely useful.


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