|A flat section of road|
Last time I was in Vila, I bought a bike. The Peace Corps gave me money to do so as a special circumstance with our split sites. I was excited and hoped it would make my commute easier. So far, this hasn’t panned out.
Firstly, finding a bike in Vila was not terribly easy. I was hoping for a proper mountain bike. I ended up with a solid bike but hybrid wheels. The only two mountain bikes I found were definitely out of my price range. Also, getting the bike once I’d paid for it was very Vanuatu. The bikes were sitting outside of the hardware store with a big chain through the tires. I checked them out and paid inside after picking up a lock, pump, and patch kit. Then I handed the receipt to the security guard. He went inside to get the key. I waited. And waited. And waited. Eventually, a manager came out, tried a couple keys and told the security guard to just go grab a bold cutter. Glad they were a hardware store.
Then I had to get the bike back to the island. The planes here are definitely not big enough to take a bike on and I just wouldn’t trust it alone on a ship. Fortunately, Gaea’s papa was in town and heading back on the ship the next day. I met up with him at the dock and handed the bike over. The ride was not kind to it. When I picked it up back home, the wheels were out of alignment and the gears needed adjusting. Nothing my talented partner couldn’t handle.
Finally, I had a working bike (including stylish helmet, per Peace Corps policy) and could try it out for a commute. I’m less than impressed so far. The roads here suck to bike on. Our “truck road” is more rugged than most country dirt roads back home. It is not kind to my butt. There are also a number of hills. These I could just put down to good training and it would be fine. I like workouts. Unfortunately, the tires on my poor bike don’t seem to. The first time went fine (sore butt and out of biking shape aside). Not even halfway through my second ride I got a flat tire. We patched it. On the next trip, flat again. I have not yet checked to see if the patch failed or if there is a new hole. The next trip into Vila will involve more patch kits and maybe the purchase of a couple new tubes for the bike.
If the tires can withstand the roads, I should be in very good biking shape by the time we’re done here.