Suddenly I was going down fast and the sidewalk was coming up hard. Then I was face down on the cold concrete. Stunned I picked myself up and tried to figure out what had happened. The culprit was a puddle of puke, likely generated by someone from the wedding going on at the Civic Centre across the street. “Mierda,” I snorted, “at least I didn’t fall in it.”
The reason I was walking down Main Street in Watrous (population 2000) at 23:00 – a mere two days after I’d arrived in Canada – was because Mom’s bike doesn’t have a light. People here take such things seriously. I reluctantly agreed to be responsible and walk the ten minutes to the bar — rather than ride — to meet friends. Ellie offered me a ride home, but I waved my hand and pooh-poohed the idea as I wanted to walk. Fresh air and all that.
So much for the nanny state. In Buenos Aires I navigated the streets fraught with dog poo and broken concrete without any trouble. On the chaotic streets of Phnom Penh I scoot around on my bike – complete with a basket and looking like a proverbial Mary Poppins – without anything untoward to date. Riding a bike without a light is the least of the problems in the Kingdom. But on the prim and proper prairies it is an offense..
Consequently, here in safe, secure Saskatchewan I wipe out on a flat sidewalk without any cracks, holes or obstacles.
“You’re lucky,” offered my friend Charlene, who is a nurse. “If you had landed on the curb you could have whacked your temple. People die that way.”
Fortunately I was carrying my over-the-body handbag. My arm goes through the handles – as it makes it harder for purse snatchers – so I wasn’t able to pull it out to break my fall. “A friend of ours in Mexico had a similar spill.” continued Charlene, “She broke her wrist and her arm in five places and is still having trouble with all the pins they put it.” Ouch.
Yes, a bit of karma, a puff of ju-ju smoke and an inshallah were with me.
I told the story of how I’d managed to end up looking like a candidate for a domestic violence poster more times than I can remember. Everyone wanted to know what happened. It always started with, “On Saturday night I went to the Town Bar.” Their ears perked as they waited to hear about the brawl and what the other guy looked like. By the time I got to the details of what had really transpired, however, the giggles started. By the time I finished there were rounds of belly laughs. So much for local support.
Saskatchewan Travel Warning: Before you book your next trip to Watrous, make sure you pack your golf cleats – or other appropriate footwear – if you plan on doing any walking. And you might want to tuck in a helmet and elbow pads just to be on the safe side.