“Please papi,” she said. “Buy cebollas, ñame, and plátanos.”
Okay. I got this! I don’t need to write it down. I can remember three items, right?
Little Thumper started on the first spark. I donned my vest, slid into my sleeves, placed my cotton cap over my skull, and topped it all off with my helmet. I balanced on one foot while I slid the other over Little Thumper to straddle the saddle one more time. It felt good.
We went thump, thump, thump down the front steps and through the gate. Thumper’s brakes squealed as we bumped over the ruts and slalomed around the mud puddles. He complained, but I know he wanted to ride as much as I did. We checked traffic and hit the highway as fast as we dared.
First, second, and third gears meshed smoothly but fourth gear popped. Maybe fourth gear would be better without the clutch? Fifth gear is the tallest Thumper has, so it took us the rest of the way to 80 before I backed off the throttle. He likes it when I grab a handful of throttle. We both prefer a carburetor over injectors, probably because I can still take one apart and put it back together without an app. Sometimes simple is better, am I right?
It’s only five kilometers to town, but we enjoyed every meter of it. I knew, as sure as the wind blew, that it could be my last ride. As we passed the cemetery I thanked God for one more day and one more ride. After all, it’s not about my pride. Passing the cemetery and the town’s temple this morning on my way to the market reminded me to thank God for one more day and one more ride.
We may be slow, but we park quickly. Today we parked in front of the butcher’s, between the market and the street market. I dismounted and tied Little Thumper off. I knew he wouldn’t wander away unless someone forced him into service.
I was preoccupied with my list. I remembered ñame and cebolla, but wasn’t there something else? I tried to focus, but I couldn’t remember. Oh well.
Onions were scarce today. There was not one to be had inside the market, but a street vendor had a box full of yellow onions. I paid his price and also found the yam. Happy that I remembered at least two out of three items on my short unwritten list I decided to fill Little Thumper’s saddle bag and basket. Maybe she would appreciate all the stuff that wasn’t on the list and forgive what I forgot?
Before we were done, we bought breadfruit, potatoes, yams, yucca, onions, garlic, peppers, lettuce, celery, pineapples, and a ripe papaya. Saturday’s market is the best, but today’s market was good.
The sky darkened and the horizon flashed, but we still had to greet more people. They were high on my list of priorities.
Thumper slouched under the load and groaned as I remounted, but he started with the first spark. I never kick him.
We wobbled to the corner and back onto the Pan-American Highway for the five kilometer trip back to the house. I always dreamed of making the entire 30,000 kilometer trip across the Americas but instead I’ve made about 3,000 100-kilometer trips along the same highway without leaving Panama. Maybe, one day?
We dodged the rain drops, slalomed back through the mud puddles, bumped over the ruts, through the gate, and clumped back up the front steps.
“Papi,” she smiled “did you forget the plátanos?”
“Sí, mi amor, se me olvidaron.” I confessed as I lifted my visor the way I imagined Don Quijote would’ve greeted the love of his life. I even offered to go back to the market to buy the plantains, but she smiled and asked me to dismount. She knew another 5-minute trip back to town would take me another two hours.
Tomorrow Little Thumper and I may look for a windmill to joust, or another excuse to go back to the market.