So our brand new phone quit working within about 10 days after being purchased, and we need a house phone to order more water for the water cooler every few days. We finished dinner and Papa thought he’d take a “quick” bike ride to the walmart-esque store 10 minutes away and pick up a phone and a couple more extension cords. [The extension cords are absolutely essential, since we have about 1 outlet per room, and it’s maybe located high up near the ceiling, or behind a heavy piece of furniture.] I had some doubts about it being quick, for any number of reasons, but… so Mama gave the kids baths in our red plastic loaner tub (nope–no bathtub yet, but we will let you know when that happens!), we cleaned up the polly pockets and started bedtime rituals. About an hour after he left, we hear the door open and things dropping with a clatter. Well, the good man had come home, not only with two telephones (one is for the MagicJack we are trying to install) and extension cords, but also a large whiteboard, 3 folding chairs and a few other odds and ends!
Now we have already discovered that a great number of large, bulky and awkward things are often transported by bicycle here, so Papa was working on integrating into the culture. While he was at the cash register waiting to pay, a lady took pity on him and brought a cart over, since he had to ride a couple of escalators and go through some corridors before getting out to the bike parking area. He put the folding chairs and whiteboard on the back child seat, the other things in the front basket, and began the trek home with one hand steadying the items in back since there were no bungee cords to tie down the load. He was wearing a backpack containing an umbrella in case it rained, since we are a bit paranoid about our getting-caught-in-the-rain adventures. Although–we could only imagine how he would have tried to hold an umbrella for that trip. He almost lost the load when swerving to avoid a couple of girls meandering along the densely populated sidewalks, and had fun getting the whole contraption up, across and down a pedestrian bridge that crossed the 8 lane highway. Upon trying to disembark from the bike back in our own courtyard, he lost control of the load and the whole schpiel went clattering all over the sidewalk, and the bike as well. He managed to stay upright, and suddenly heard a voice say in perfect English, “Did you buy too much?!” It was a friendly neighbor from the 7th floor who helped him haul everything into the elevator so he could get upstairs without any more mishaps.