How to Blow Up Your Bicycle

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    Dutch and bicycles are like tulips and windmills, Gouda cheese and bad breathe, DJ Tiësto and hearing loss…

    … inseparable.

    Bicycle addicts everywhere can agree, riding a bike gives you a sense of freedom (and a touch of anxiety on the bumpy Costa Rican roads) that is incomparable to driving a car. Thus, after two months living in Puerto Limón, I thought, you can take the girl out of the Netherlands, but you can’t part her from her beloved bike. So, time to get one!

    As luck would have it, while I was shopping for groceries, I came across an incredible selection of bicycles for sale. You know, the kind of beach cruisers with their handlebars too high and a basket in front. One in particular caught my glare immediately like a cute puppy. I fell in love instantly with this green, groovy, little fellow. I named him ‘Green Steel’ and promised it that we would drive to the end of the road together.

    But our journey couldn’t quite start, as the tires were rather flat. Since there weren’t any bicycles pumps available in the supermarket, the guy at the counter advised me to go to the neighboring repair shop. Julio over there was all too eager to help me out at a chance to use his hydraulic air pump. Afterwards, he checked the rest of the bike, and needed a moment to gather some gear to secure the handlebar, which was a bit loose.

    While I waited in the heat, out of nowhere came a loud BANG, and I was suddenly thrown onto the ground. Being fed all the news lately of terrorism attacks, the first thought that came to my mind was “please not here, too!”  I looked at my body; alright, all of my limbs were still there, no visible scratches. However, the entire street full of bystanders stopped, and stared at my bicycle. There it was… the rear wheel.  Just as smashed as the cockroach that joined me in the shower that same morning.

    [quote_left]“Mala suerte.” [/quote_left]

    Julio mumbled under his breath while returning to tighten the handlebars. “There you go!” he added afterwards, while turning his back to me, preparing for his next client.

    [quote_right]“But, I can’t drive like this!”[/quote_right]I answered aghast. Julio couldn’t see the problem at all. At least, not his problem. All he did was pump up the tires as asked, no? Surely he didn’t think there was too much air in the tire at all. Since he so ignorantly ignored my puzzled face for the next few minutes, I thought it would be best to return to the supermarket. And after some hesitations, they gave me another bike, a red one this time. With flat tires…

    [quote_box_center]Kristel Segeren is an editor and photographer with a background in International Relations and Eastern European Studies. Though originally from the Netherlands, she traveled over 50 countries before unexpectedly settling here in Costa Rica. As they say, life happens when you’re making other plans.[/quote_box_center]

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