Little pleasant surprises


The brakes on my bike had gotten bad enough that stopping without putting shoes on pavement was no longer a sure thing. (You will, by the way, often see Uruguayans braking bikes and even motos using that method.) So I rode it in the wilting heat this morning to the little bike shop for them to do their magic. Bicycle repair really does seem like magic to me, especially after I try to do it.

I then walked to Tienda Inglesa, where a cashier last night has shortchanged me 20 pesos. I thought something was wrong, but the mathematical part of my brain seemed to be on vacation. When I got home, I confirmed it. 20 pesos is maybe $0.60, but there are lots of new hires for summer in Tienda Inglesa, and it bothered me that the cashier had not counted the money up – at least not the small stuff – the way I’m sure they’re required to do.

Was she lazy? Incompetent? Perhaps skimming a coin here and there? I can’t speak to the first two, but long story short, at the end of her shift she counted 20 pesos more in her till than she should have, and all was duly noted by Tienda Inglesa, and promptly given to me after the requisite recording and my signing in a spiral notebook.

I was impressed.

Back to the bike shop, a pad had been replaced, brakes now threatening to throw me over the handlebars. For a total of 50 pesos, or $1.50. Which made me wonder when was the last time in my native country one could have had something like this done for $1.50 – the 1960s?



Had to chuckle…

…when I saw this in the road.

string in street

Because I knew exactly what it was for.

string in street

Do you? Scroll down for the answer….


































bicycle seat with string

In case you’re still wondering, that’s how I store what I tie around my right ankle when bicycling in long pants, to keep them out of the chain.

I don’t think I ever documented my USD 140 bike. It started falling apart as soon as it got out of the shop. It’s gone from 18 speeds to one, long since lost headlight and chain guard. Between that and the 26″ wheels – too big for most Uruguayans to ride comfortably – I never worry locking it up when I ride into town. And if someone does want to steal it, what can I say? For under USD 16 per year, it’s been a good investment.


The bike

Ralf, Syd’s brother in law, left for Germany Saturday after several months here.

He had brought his electric bike from Germany to have some adventures exploring Argentina and Uruguay. The bike itself provided some adventures, requiring the German Embassy in Buenos Aires to intervene with the bus company that “lost” it. And then the airport: though the bike had come from Germany on Air Europa just with a plastic wrapping, the Uruguayan employees decided it had to be in a box.

And of course they had no box.

So with airline tape, and the help of four helpful guys who apparently appeared out of nowhere, Ralf scavenged cardboard bits from every shop in the airport.

The end result was equally amusing and terrifying. But OK with Air Europa.

Bicycle packed for air transport, Montevideo Uruguay

Of course, upon arrival in Frankfurt, the whole mess had to be taken apart, which took so long that Ralf missed his train and so, after 25 hours of traveling, had to wait two more for the next one.

Having lived in Germany, I can only imagine what other Germans thought of the mess of plastic and cardboard abandoned in the airport.