It was 8:30, which according to Nantais public transportation, is late. With only one remaining gold earring, completely soaked feet from getting caught on the beach in a thunderstorm and a bursting bladder from the cups of coffee intended to counter-act cold sandy sogginess, I couldn't wait to get off the tour bus and into bus 23, direction free bathroom and dry socks.
Unfortunately, when the clocks chime 8:30, all of the public transportation buses turn into pumpkins or something and only one bus runs, on the hour 30 just until midnight, to the northwest corner of the city. Having missed the 8:30 bus by about 3 minutes, I was exasperatedly preparing to sit outside on a cold metal bench for the 9:30 bus when my friend Cassie (who lives close to the city center) offered let me borrow her brand new bike. What fun! I thought. I hoped on and had just begun reflecting on how I love bikes and how all I needed to complete the image of Frenchness was a baguette strapped to the back...when it started to pour rain. Of course.
About 50 meters after the beginning of the torrential downpour, I heard the most lovely noise. "ptt!! sssssssss sssssssssss sssssssssss." In seconds the front tire had gone from bouncy brand new to flabby unpeddal-able-ness. Of couse.
But, what luck!, just at that minute bus 23 pulled up to the stop several meters in front of me. I had caught up to it! I started peddaling madly and the front tire that was refusing to turn punctuated its rebellion by getting stuck in the cobble stone side walk. I crashed off the bike onto the wet rocks. Of course.
Determined, I jumped up from my spill, grabbed the bike by its handlebars, and sprinted toward the bus stop. I arrived just as the bus was pulling away but the bus driver saw me, and in a moment of compassion (or maybe concern at the look on my face), stopped the bus. "Thank you sir" I exclaimed. He looked at me - soaked, limping and panting me - and said, "Bikes are not allowed on the bus." Of course.
"But wait, sir please," and here my near hysteria and lack of vocabulary for mechanical bicycle terms produced the following explanation, "Please, you see, I can not ride this bike! So, which, I can not go home...there was a, there was a"
"There was a what?"
"A thing that broke this part here, you see!" I cried hitting the front tire with my fist to show its uselessness (and mentally kicking myself for not being able to think of the words for "sharp object that slashed a hole into the tire").
The combination of my desperation, my ridiculous explanation and the rivulets of rain streaming down my face must have touched him.
"Alright," he said. "But just this one time. You recognize that I am being very very generous."
"Yes! thank you so much!"
I telephoned Cassie, who didn't know whether to pity me or laugh, and told her that I would get the tire fixed as soon as possible. It was Friday evening. My host mom informed me that the bicycle repair man would not be open until Tuesday. Of course.
Tuesday morning dawned crisp and clear. The bike, of course, did not fit in the trunk of the family car so I had to walk it to the bicycle repair shop about 1.5 miles away. .5 miles into the journey it began to rain. Of course.
I dropped the bike off at the shop and the repair man said to come back the next afternoon to pick it up. So, the next afternoon, I walked the 1.5 miles back to the bike garage, found out the tiny shard of glass had caused a $35 repair, and handed over my credit card frusterated but thankful that the ordeal was over. But, of course, my credit card didn't work because it's not thumb print equipped like the European cards. I had to walk back to my house to get cash and then back to the shop. I paid, hopped on the bike, and got lost on my way to the city center. When I finally arrived, I found only one of my red leather thinsulate lined driving gloves in my coat pocket where I had put them. Of course.
I locked up the bike and in my amused exasperation, called my dad to relay the story. I vented on my way from center city to the IES building. I finished the story just as I was rounding the corner to the entry stairs when my dad said, "Well, I guess all that has to happen next is for you to fall into a hole or something...watch out!"
Marked off in yellow caution tape at the base of the stairwell was a 10 foot deep hole (dug for plumbing repair)!!
Thankfully, I did not fall in.
This weekend I had a positive experience with bicycles.
We (about 20 IES students) rented bikes for 1 euro and explored the trials that run all along the river in Nantes. The weather was mild and the endorphins from exercising put everyone in fantastic moods...which were only increased by our stop at the end of the trip (see below)
Gelato. And the best part, for people like me who enter ice cream shops and suddenly realize that philosophical questions about religion pale in comparison with the difficulty of committing to nutella over tiramisu or mango or mint or cafe caramel...., is that at Amora you can actually choose as many flavors as you want. Pure pure happiness!
So, the moral of the post is: One can only experience the best italian gelato in the world by moving beyond frustrations and calamities of the past.