Flat tyres and emotional roller coasters...
Ben and I have been feeling rather homesick recently. Attempting to share in friends joy as they become parents or become pregnant has made us acutely aware of just how much we are missing out on over here. It's times like this you have to step back and assess whether the benefits of living over here outweigh those of living at home. We're not sure.
We know that we currently have work opportunities that we would never be afforded back home and we both enjoy our jobs despite the various frustrations that crop up. But there are many challenges to living over here that you grapple with each day and today I'm afraid posed many...
It started with the guy who delivers our newspapers knocking on our door at 6:30am to collect the money due for the next three months of delivery. Early wake up calls are not something I have adjusted too in this country and despite being up and already dressed, he scared the bejesus out of me knocking on the door at that time. With a brief exchange I sent him on his way empty handed (I didn't have enough money). But the surprise of him turning up left me with a slightly unsettled feeling as I set off for work.
So with my mind ticking over, I was driving down our narrow street aware of the fact that another motorbike was coming towards me with three guys on it. The driver didn't have great control, so he was coming towards me at fairly close range. At the same time as this, an older woman, who I presume is a neighbour, stepped out onto the street without looking. I was metres from her and had no time to brake and no room to swerve to the otherside, so I tooted my horn (as I so often do) and narrowly missed hitting her by millimetres. She of course yelled at me, as though it were my fault she stepped out and didn't look and I drove on with my heart thumping and my stomach churning.
I had not got more than a few streets away when my bike started to wobble. I had only been at the mechanics yesterday fixing my foot-stand that had become loose, making it hard to change gears and balance the bike. Now here I was wondering why my bike was off balance yet again. As I pulled over, I took one look to the rear of the bike and discovered my first flat tyre. I let out a groan and promptly went about searching for a roadside mechanic to do the repairs.
After wheeling my bike 100m in crazy morning traffic; and stopping off at 4 different places that had brand new tyres on display out front, only to be told no...I was feeling rather frazzled. Thankfully an elderly Cambodian man appeared from out of his small shop, which had chips and other fast food snacks on display and he offered to fix my tyre. I then noticed the old tyre inserts and tools he had for doing just that. It was quite a fascinating process to watch as he filled the inner tube of my rear tyre with water to find the holes and then cut out new rubber to melt down and patch over these trouble spots. Within 10 minutes my bike was fixed and it only cost 1,500Riel (approx 40 cents) for the trouble.
But it was not a good start to the day, especially when I was heading to work for an all day program meeting, at which I had to do a two hour presentation I was not fully prepared for. I called Ben to inform him of my adventures whilst my bike was being fixed and surprised myself as my frustration bubbled to the surface and my voice began to waver, just as it does before you cry. My logical side was muttering, "what are you gonna cry for??...the bike is getting fixed and you'll be at work on time...it's no big deal"....but there bubbled the emotions all the same. Thankfully, as I stood there on the street, I held it together and did not cry but I have to admit, today has been a roller coaster of emotions. When I got home this evening, Ben's day had not been much better. So we ordered in some comfort food...and decided...friends, family, we miss you.