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Mutts On Bikes

Are those plastic cranks?

PERU | Wednesday, 4 March 2009 | Views [1931] | Comments [3]

The man in the street had an empty wheelbarrow. He stood there, along with the four of us, in the street in Cochabamba, Bolivia, chucking and pointing unabashedly at our quandry. My (Cat's) left crank arm had just fallen off in the street. With little more than a rattle as warning.

"Maybe we should look in the street for the bolt?" Rachel is genreally optimistic.

"What are the chances of finding a new crank bolt in Cochabamba?" I felt this was a more realistic option. Kate wore a discouraging facial expression in response. Rachel and i walked the street, scanning amid the whizzing mini busses and taxis.

"could this be it?" it was the first and only bolt we would find, and it belonged to my bicycle. A moment of awe, a half day of one-legged riding and a trip to Freddy's Tattoo Shop later, we were all fixed up. No guns, though. The search continues.

As we prepared to embark on a bus to Oruro and toward much-anticipated Carnaval celebrations, we gathered our things from the fire station. We took turns sliding down the fire pole. Kate took her turn in her summer dress, resulting in sideways glances and muffled giggles from the (entire) firefighting force, assembled in formation, out of sight, below. We exchanged the ususal formalities about where we are going, what are you doing, what the hell are you thinking. Yes, we are bussing because my friend's knee has stitches. The generally accepted method of removal at this time was for Rachel to find a somewhat clean place to remove them herself, thereby avoiding the hospital.

The firefighter-paremedic was unconvinced of our optomistic appraisal of the situation. He cooly removed the bandages, speaking in slow, calm Spanish throughout, until the wound was exposed.

"This is a fucking problem." He stated in plain English. And so began Rachel's knee infection, the removal of her stitches, a round of antibiotics and complex cleaning procedures, a painful scab scraping procedure executed blithely by said paramedic, and a whole new can o worms.

There was Carnaval. There was water, there was spray foam. In our eyes. In our shirts. There was water balloon retaliation. There was the smothering of foam in very small children's faces. There was also a good deal of folkloric dancing and revelry.

We fanagled four bicycles onto a bus to La Paz, where we were met by Ronald Ruiz' three-story mansion. There we stayed as Meg underwent round two of traveler's plague no. 64. And there I awoke to find my bicycle oddly missing from behind Ronald's 10-foot locked solid gate. We perused the neighborhood. We asked the neighbors. We came to accept the fact that the south american bicycle tour was now down one bicycle.

We waited in the police station. The third police station we'd visited that day. We waited, and we explained as a stone-faced police officer didn't take notes. We waited as he sought paper and some kind of complex printing tape from nearby desks. We waited as the loud, shaky mechanism printed an "official certificate of certification" certifying that we'd asked for a certified report. We'd have to come back tomorrow. We'd have to pay him about $7 for his trouble. Have a nice day.

The everythings-stolen flea market yeilded no bicycle. The plague crept into Cat's already agitated veins. We waited and watched American action movies about a deadly poison that can only be stopped by adreneline.

We are in Peru. We are down one green 2008 Bianchi Volpe and we are up one jet-black (year unknown) Santosa 21-speed Mountain Bike. (Thanks to Ronald, his mother (who still had it in the closet) and the mechanic next door, who happily cut the lock that had been holding in safely in place for the last two years.)

We are on the move after $70 and an afternoon of magical bicycle upgrading by Kate Mills, Rachel Milligan, and a La Paz bike mechanic with a sense of humor Rachel is now the proud owner of. Helmet no. 3, in all its free golden bmx glory.




I'm glad you're on the move, and Iknow you are too. Be safe...have fun and we hope you opt to go to Machu-Picchu. Meg, we saw Chaz and Lynn's pics from there..
not to be missed if you can get there. Hope all is smooth peddling from now on. Love the MUTTS!

  Mama Pat Mar 5, 2009 7:07 AM


First time I've read your blog in so long! Picked a good day -- Caitlin, I still love your writing. Good luck with the new bike. Wish I could meet some cute firemen, too!!


  Kerry Mar 6, 2009 12:27 AM


I hope you all can go to Machu-Picchu as well. It is supposed to be awesome. Don't get a friction burn Kate from sliding down firepoles in a dress! ;-) I am sending Reiki to help keep you safe and well!! Stay safe and have fun. I hope Rachel is healing nicly. Love to you and the other Mutts!!

  Mutt Mom Bonnie Mar 7, 2009 4:56 AM

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