It was supposed to be a quick ride into Castillo’s Hardware (Motto: “Do it Best.”) on Pescador Drive for an adjustable wrench and to return the awful flat spanner 4-in1 bike wrench that I’d purchased the day before.
Lesson one: Any tool designed to do more than one job does no job well.
And yes, while I’m here, how about a pair of those $3 reading glasses because, you know, on a tropical island you can never have too many pairs of glasses.
Mission accomplished: a nice $27 BZD dropped forge steel, full chrome polish, satisfaction guaranteed 8-inch adjustable wrench. Made in China specifically for Do it Best Corp. (Hey, I thought it was just a slogan.) I know it is a good wrench because “Do it.” is imprinted twice on the tool.
The wrench is to be used to adjust the rear wheels on our bikes, thus tightening the chains which have stretched considerably after three months. We bought the bikes at Castillo’s from the store’s bicycle queen, Carla. I go to her for all my bike questions.
It was Carla who suggested getting a can of WD-40 Specialist — Protective White Lithium Grease ($22.50 BZD). Great call – a heavy duty lube in a can that doesn’t drip off the chain as you spray it on. It is a rust inhibitor, too and I can’t tell you enough how vital a feature that is, living 100 yards off the sea.
I like Castillo’s because they smile at you, mostly, and will find just what you need in seconds while you could have been searching for days. And they are gracious with returns. Like most of the numerous hardware stores in town, Castillo’s has a group of desks populated by serious looking men staring intently into computer screens. I feel like I’m entering Gringott’s Wizard Bank rather than a hardware store.
Must ask what they do all day. Someday. After I’m viewed less as a gringo visitor and more as a local.
It may not seem like it, yet, but the point of this story is: I do really dumb things.
Like when I walked out of the store, strode over to my bicycle locked securely to a tree beside the road, reached into my pocket for my keys and pulled out …
… the wrong set of keys.
In a controlled panic I searched through all the pockets of my new cargo shorts, never before realizing just how many pockets you get on a pair of cargo shorts.
Then I searched through them again.
And again. This time pulling out my bandanna, my wallet and anything else that would obscure the Right Set Of Keys.
And one more time. Just in case I’d missed a pocket. I also stared really hard at the set of keys, trying to will them into being the right ones. I think that works on “X Men” or something. It didn’t work in San Pedro Town.
By then, a few things dawned on me:
- I can’t keep repeating the same activity over and over hoping for a different outcome, like FOX News reporting on Benghazi and Obamacare.
- I’d better stopping running my hands through my pockets before I get run in as some kind of pervert on the street.
- The keys are probably at home, in my other shorts. The pair with only two pockets.
I’d left Rose up the street at the little shop that makes fresh tortillas and I knew she was going to stop at another shop for some limes. By now she was probably at home already, preparing the fish tacos and beans for dinner.
So I walked home, up Laguna Drive, through the lively Boca del Rio neighborhood. That was a first. Walking. And very pleasant. It is my favorite neighborhood. Someone is always spiffing up a house, building a new one, opening a shop, singing on a porch, eating food from a Styrofoam box, or fixing something in one of the numerous bike and car repair shops. It has a different kind of vibe at different times of the day.
This was late afternoon. Workers from up north were returning on their bikes. Kids were walking home from school in their uniforms. The girl from Annie’s was just leaving on her carrier bicycle, loaded down with bins of cookies, rolls, coconut cakes and other treats to sell up and down the streets.
Some of the food shops on the street don’t even open until mid or late-afternoon, after the broiling sun has passed to the west. Most were open for business now. A sign that Castillo’s would be closing soon. And lock or no lock, I didn’t want to leave the bike hitched to that tree.
Even I would be tempted to set it free.
A short walk over the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge and yet another discovery: Paradise Theater (Cinema Paradisio, if you will), situated just north of the bridge, has a giant billboard on which they list the latest movies.
“Yes, it has always been there,” said Rose later.
It’s true: Old age sucks.
Cutting to the chase: Yes, the keys were in my other shorts pocket.
I decided to run back to Costillo’s, cutting over to the hard sand beach path which has less traffic, no curbs to trip over and fewer taxi vans with impatient drivers to run me down. Rose decided to bicycle down with me and perhaps administer lifesaving first aid when I collapsed on the beach.
I haven’t been running for a month because of a bizarre pain in the middle toe of my left foot. I know. I know. I sound like a professional baseball player. But, seriously, this hurts way more than a hangnail. In fact, I’ve never felt such pain in my life. (Not true: Cornflaking my left wrist when I tripped and cartwheeled while jogging is my all-time No. 1.)
So I jogged. And walked. And curled my toes in and jogged some more. And walked. And jogged and walked a little more. And sweated buckets. And basically looked like a tourist fueled by too many rum punches and an over-inflated self-image.
But I made it to Castillo’s and even though it was closed, two employees were sitting on the front steps. Perhaps waiting for a ride, perhaps waiting for the sweaty gringo to return for his bike.
I was so happy to see the bike.
Rose was so happy to see I was still standing.
“Come on,” she said, “we pass Wayo’s on the way home. I’ll buy you a drink.”
The girl knows me. She just knows me.