I woke up early this morning as yesterday I accepted an invite for an early morning tennis game. I don’t normally get up before sunrise (at least out of bed) although the local roosters all take their turn at trying. Most days I can hear them early on but my body just doesn’t respond. Anyway, today I was mentally prepared to wake up and drive into town – in my sleep if need be – because I was determined to log an early workout today. As I headed towards town, I witnessed one of the prettiest sunrises I have seen lately, and there wasn’t even an ocean involved. It was just the sun on my left jetting up over the rice fields and and a coconut tree lined horizon. Absolutely serene. In less than 15 minutes I was pullilng into the Calbayog City Sports Complex parking lot and as I parked my motor, I noticed my back tire was flattening.
There was already a foursome that beat me to the court so rather than wait my turn to play, I decided to take my bike to the nearest Vulcanizing shop. When you don’t need one, you will see them everywhere, but I couldn’t recollect where I needed to go relative to my location. So easy does it, I drive to the Petron gas filler up station on the corner to get directions. When I pulled up, the pump attendent was anxious to please and asked “fill it up sir?” and I responded “no thanks, I have a flat tire”. I proceded to ask him where the nearest vulcanizer was located. By the look on his face, you would have thought I asked the poor fellow about performming brain surgery or something. After rephrasing my question about two more times and him thinking about it for a little while, he finally understood my question but really couldn’t make up his mind about which one was the closest and whether the closest would even be open at 6am. Finally, after doing his imitation of the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz pointing in two different directions, I decided to just hit the road, go left and take my chances. Ah, the good luck had returned and I found a shop about 1/2 kilometer down the road and they were open. I’m not the only one who got up early today. He must have roosters too! I can now surmise that after living here for a while and having flat tire episodes at regular intervals, I will eventually know where all the vulcanizers are located. It’s only a matter of time.
I should point out that my two previous flats just happened to occur oh so conveniently right there in front of a vulcanizing shop. About the time you pick up a nail and all the air leaks out of your tire, you procede to pull over along the side of the road and voila!….there is a vulcanizer business staring you right in the face. Irony? Or is it a type of income protection plan executed by, well…the vulcanizer? I see many guys at the hardware stores buying nails in bulk. Who knows. I’ve heard all the stories.
Anyway, after dropping off the bike, I walked the half kilometer back to the Sports Complex and the early foresome was just finishing up. I grabbed my racquet and had about a 20 minute warm up one of the club’s ball boys and because nobody else showed up to play, I eventually challenged him to a game. He emphatically accepted with a big smile and I could feel his vibes – here is his big chance to bag his first foreigner. He could be a hero among the ball boys. I’m happy to report though that after a tough go of it, I managed to squeak out a win. Thank goodness he wasn’t wearing tennis shoes! (Flip flops are the norm for many of the ball boys employed by the city.)
As a long time racquetball player (40+ years), I have had to accept playing tennis in the interim until a racquetball court is built to play on. So as a beginner Tennis player, I have to hustle any game I can as the “pro’s” around here (or anywhere for that matter) don’t like playing below themselves. Must be a pride thing (or maybe they are afraid of getting beat by a rookie and that would be hard to live down). And, until I get better at swinging this giant of a racquet, I will have to take whatever time on the court I can get.
After my spirited win against the ball boy in flip flops, I found I was too tired to walk back to the vulcanizing shop so I hopped in a tricycle and took the P10 ride (.22 cents) back to my motorcycle where I settled up and paid for a new inner tube and the repair….total: P180 or about $4.22 in USD. At these prices, I could almost afford to have a flat on a regular basis. I paid the vulcanizer and away I went. I was back home by 8:15 in time for a cup of coffee and another round of breakfast.
Now I just have to find something to do until lunch time…and my after lunch nap.