January 15, 2016
My mind was scrambling but coming up blank. I knew the word for “Foot”: Pie. But I couldn’t come up with a word for “stuck”.
The kid standing on the ramp to the ferry/barge just looked at me like I was a complete idiot. My eyes big, and all I kept saying was “No! No! No!”
Quickly!….alternative sentence structures: “wedged”? “lodged”? “Unable to move”? That’s it! Foot no move! “Mi pie no puede mover!” Too late. Nice thought, but about a second delayed. Over I went.
I had left Copacabana, headed for La Paz. There is a short ferry crossing, and about a dozen of these large, rectangular wooden barges with outboard motors to carry vehicles across Lake Titicaca at this small gap in land. The “front” of the barge is open, and is pulled up to the land, where wooden ramps are positioned to load cars, truck, buses, and motorcycles. On the other end, the same “front” end of the barge is pulled up to the ramps, and you have to back off of the barge.
On my barge, they loaded a large truck, an SUV, and last, me. Which meant I was first off, backwards. I felt like my taillight was hanging off the open end of the barge and I was just inches from falling off. I’m sure it wasn’t that close, but I wasn’t going to get off the bike to look…there wasn’t a lot of “floor” on the barge either; just enough to get the four wheels of a truck or car onto the barge. No way for me to make a U-turn and ride off.
On the way across, I asked an elderly gentleman who worked on the barge to take a photo (the one above). We began talking (in Spanish), and he asked how many accidents I had had on this trip, and how many times I had tipped over.
“Nada”. That was a mistake. Never should have said it.
When we docked on the east side, I began to unload, rolling backwards off the barge. About half way down the ramp, while looking to my left at the kid on the ramp that worked with the barges, my right boot got stuck in between two of the wooden boards, and wouldn’t come out. Front wheel locked, the bike kept sliding down the board. Before I could do much more, my leg reached its’ limit, and down I went.
I was very, very lucky. The ramp that we had pulled up to went all the way across the back (front?) of the barge. If it had only been wide enough for the car tires, with a gap between, the bike would have fallen further than 90 degrees, and my ankle, and possibly my lower leg, most assuredly would have snapped. As it was, I was pinned and it required the people from the SUV to lift the front of the bike and free my foot. Embarrassing. And my first tip-over of the trip.
But other than a little twist in the knee and ankle, I am unscathed, and still rolling….