Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Saturday Evening blog Post presents: The Long (and dangerous) Ride Home.

If you have read parts 1 and 2 of this narrative, you will know that our heroes--Bill, Chief and Peter--have finally ascended to the peak of the mountain range protecting the southern coast of Gran Canaria, and need only to ride down to the coastal road that circles the island and bike the 40 kms back to their haven in Las Palmas. If you haven't read parts 1 and 2, you don't realize that one of the Mopeds the Sons of Anarchy rented had died, and that the light was waning. (How did you go a whole week without that knowledge?) Let's cut back to the story, where it has finally dawned on us that we should have brought some water, as the only liquid we has consumed all day was hard cider--which was not very tasty to burp up, mind you. Who knew that one should take water with you when traveling in a desert? Oh sure, now they teach that kind of thing in school, but back then?

Anyway, we rode down to the coastal road and headed northeast towards Las Palmas as the equatorial son set behind the mountains. Now--I know I said their would be no math, but--you do the math: 40 kms of road at 20 kms/hour--our top speed with two of us on the lead bike--yup, it was a three hour ride. And it started out well, watching the fading rays of the sun play on the Atlantic. But then the light died altogether, and we were forced to use our headlights, which had the collective brightness of a pair of underachieving glow worms. To make matters worse, the geography changed as we headed north, and the highway arched up to run along a ridge that rose above the sea. In other circumstances--in the day, in a car, on a highway with guardrails--it would have been the ride of a lifetime. But on a moped, in the dark, and without the benefit of guard rails, I was frankly terrified every meter of the way. Bill must have been as well, because I heard him saying the rosary again and again.

Bill must have been in a good state of grace back in the day, because the Sons of Anarchy rolled into Las Palmas several hours later, safe and sound despite the cars flying past us on the highway, blaring their horns to let us know they had almost run us over in the darkness. How we made it I don't really know, other than to say it is definitive proof of a higher power. In any event, the Moped shop was closed so we went back to the villa and collapsed into bed without eating--we didn't have enough money for food anyway.

It is safe to say that we were not looking forward to returning the Mopeds the next morning. One bike was chained to a rock on the other side of the island, one bike was leaking oil, and the other had a flat tire. There was also the fact that the guys from the shop had told us not to take them out of Las Palmas. So, hanging our heads in shame, we limped in to the garage and I explained--in German, which I had never studied--what had transpired. I must have got the message across because they stared at us like we were insane, and then broke out in laughter.

Now this was the tricky part, because we had no money to pay for repairs, and I envisioned cleaning toilets for the rest of the week to pay the bill. But they took pity on us instead, and gassed up the truck to retrieve the stranded bike. There was only room for one of us on the truck, and Bill drew the short straw. When they pulled out, we could see him waving bravely from the cab.

"Think we'll ever see him again?" Chief asked.

"Alive, you mean?" I replied, already rehearsing my speech to Bill's mom.

And so we fretted the day away, hoping for Bill's safe return. We were just about to to go down to the Moped shop and inquire when Bill showed up, no worse for the wear. His new friends had decided to take him out to dinner on the other side of the island, and so Bill got treated to a feast while Chief and I ate plain pasta and worried ourselves sick.

I can't even remember the rest of our week on Gran Canaria, but I will never forget that one day. Bill, Chief and I laugh about it often, once again proving that bad decisions make great stories. (Not that I am advocating for bad decision making.)  Thanks again for your patience and support. If any of you wants to write about a memorable trip you have taken, the off-the-beaten path travel log is officially accepting guest blog posts. See you next week.