Well, we did it. Last week we went to the motorcycle shop just down the street from where we are staying and took the plunge. Our new chariot is a Chinese-made, 2010 Linkgen 125cc motorcycle that rides like a dream.
There are about 10 million reasons why this motorcycle is awesome. First off, when we (as blancs) ride around the streets of Port-au-Prince on a motorcycle that only Haitian moto-taxi drivers drive, it’s like being a celebrity. They look at the bike, they look at us, and just start laughing (with us I assume…).
The second thing that’s awesome about this bike is what’s written on the side of the fuel tank: “Pursue Outstanding, Enjoy the Life.” Jillian and I “pursue outstanding” everyday, so this is the perfect bike for us.
When I went to actually purchase the bike I was by myself, so to be honest I know very little about its mechanics because everyone who helped set it up did not speak a lick of English. I have read the 15 page manual which has been poorly translated from Chinese to English, so I get the general gist. But I’ll be honest, I’m learning as I go. When I drove this baby home from the shop (after stalling 3 or 4 times), it was the second time I had driven a motorcycle. EVER.
We decided to go with the “red wine” color because the only other option was silver and we wanted to keep things interesting. Because of the name of the color, we’ve decided to name our chariot “Pinotage” after the varietal of wine produced in Stellenbosch, South Africa where Jillian and I studied abroad. I don’t know about you, but the one thing that I feel is synonymous with riding a motorcycle in exhaust-filled streets of Haiti is the intense dark cherry, oak barrel, and pencil shaving after-tones of a nicely aged pinotage.
I understand that I’m no master of the motorcycle, so don’t think I’m going to be rushing out to drive the mean streets of PAP traffic anytime soon. I’m practicing everyday, and making sure to keep my speeds safe (even though it says “High Speed” on the side of the bike). But there’s a certain liberating feeling now that we can go anywhere we want when we want to, and not have to worry about having enough Goudes to pay the moto-taxi driver to wait outside while we run into the bank. It’s kinda weird though, all of a sudden I have an intense hatred for men walking across the street holding coolers…I’ll get one of them, one of these days.