One of the good things about having a scooter that was made in China is that it’s such a no-name-brand that it’s not even worthy of stealing. In the beginning, David was so overprotective that he would check on it regularly to make sure it hadn’t been stolen. Now, he’s so underprotective that he has actually removed the anti-theft lock for a day to use on our bikes instead. In fact, we’ve gotten so laissez-faire about our scooter that, twice, we’ve forgotten to move it for market days. What once sent us in such a panic when we came down and couldn’t find it no longer even phases us as now we simply wait for the market to clear out in order to locate our scooter once more.
One of the bad things about having a scooter made in China is that, apparently, the bolts that hold everything together come unscrewed easily. At first, I thought that it was just a scooter thing, but, after mentioning it to my brother – an expert on all things with two wheels and a motor – he casually said, “Oh, yes, that happens with Chinese scooters.” Really, who knew?! All I knew is that it would have been nice to know that when when we bought the bike so that we would know what in the world was going on when the bike started sputtering and stalling on major roads. When it first started happening, we dismissed it as just a dose of bad gas and patiently sputtered along until the tank was used up so that we could start over with a fresh tank, but when that didn’t solve the problem, we knew we needed help. Miraculously, we found a garage that agreed to service our made-in-China scooter and, after an hour of tightening the spark plugs and all the bolts including the front brake disk and even the ones holding the seat in place, we were on our way, cruising on a scooter that worked even better than when we first got it.
But I’m not complaining because our scooter has taken us places. It has delivered us safely to Murcia, a city an hour south, keeping us moving, even as we labored up steep sections of the highway, inching forward at such slow speeds that even the semis wanted to pass. It has taken us to Benidorm, a city an hour and a half north of us, keeping us upright, even as the winding curves of the road nearly toppled us over, forcing us to move at such slow speeds that it was only by luck’s good fortune that the car behind us wasn’t following too closely behind when we entered a particularly windy curve at the mouth of a tunnel and nearly had to come to a standstill just to clear it. And it has gotten us and a mountain of supplies safely home to the apartment, a seemingly impossible feat especially considering that our purchases included a 5 kilo bag of cat litter, 9 liters of water and 6 liters of milk. But with bags in front, bags inside the seat and one bag on each of my shoulders, we – and our supplies – got home safely!
So I’m certainly not complaining about our Chinese scooter because it definitely gets us places. But there have been times that the thought crossed my mind how nice it would be to have a car. Like back in August when we were forced to start taking buses again because David’s mom was visiting and the scooter’s capacity of a mere 2 was 1 too few. And in September when the rain fell so heavily that going anywhere on scooter was just unthinkable. And just last night, when we were heading home at 2 in the morning and it was freezing out. And then the yearning for a car only got stronger as we proceeded to get misled by the confusing roads and roundabouts, turning our 45 minute ride home into an hour and a half as we nearly froze from a cold that was so unbearable that it sent shivers through my body until I was nearly shaking uncontrollably, crouching desperately behind David for protection from the piercing wind.
And then, just as I was consoling myself that nothing’s perfect, shortcomings are inevitable, and that there will always be something bigger and better that would make life so much easier, our Chinese scooter broke down this morning. On our way to David’s aunt and uncle’s house, it suddenly lost power, stalled and wouldn’t start again. We were left stranded on the side of the road and had to wait nearly an hour for the tow truck to arrive. And when the driver arrived, we were so happy to see him – not only because he was coming with a tow truck but because he’s becoming an old friend as this wasn’t the first time he has come to tow our scooter away. (Just a couple side notes: Though we weren’t in need of assistance since the tow truck was on its way, I found it interesting that only one car pulled over briefly. I was sure that the four people inside were going to ask if we needed help but, as it turned out, they were only stopping momentarily to ask for directions to Madrid. We were happy to oblige but a bit surprised that they didn’t even offer to help in return. Also, when in Spain, try to avoid breaking down during siesta time. The tow truck came at 2:30 and the insurance company called soon after saying that we would have to pay a supplemental fee of 44 euros – about $65 – since we were having it towed during the sacred hours of national rest. Since everyone was eating and sleeping at that time, the driver would have to return to base and wait for the shop where we were having it towed to to open and the fee for this inconvenience would land on us. Fortunately, David talked his way out of it, but we were given our fair warning for next time.)
And, now, instead of wishing for a car, I am, once again, simply just wishing that our scooter would work. But perhaps this is all just part of the package deal that comes with owning a scooter – that was made in China.