Some days ago I lost my GPS locator, it’s a little piece of equipment you can set of if you are in real danger. It can also be used to track your steps, which is why it was attached to my backpack while hitching a ride to Ramelau, the highest mountain in East Timor. In a truck overflowing with people, rice, chickens, a mattress, plastics chairs, a goat and some other bits and pieces the GPS somehow stayed on the truck when I left. Ever since I can see its location when someone pushes the buttons on it…. However, there is a bit of a delay, so when someone uses it, I can see where it was one hour ago. Determined as I am to get it back I decided to chase the thing around town.

An email pops up with the location of the GPS. I get my gear and jump on the bike. Using the maps on my phone to navigate to the exact location I arrive there 2 hours after the GPS was in that exact location. I park the bike on the side of the busy road and walk up to the first restaurant. Maybe they saw someone using it. A policeman just finished his dinner and was determined to help me out. Together we visited the other restaurants and asked the owners. As I feared, no luck.

Tomorrow another day I thought optimistically. Jumped on the bike, turned the key and pushed the start button. Al the right noises but the bike didn’t start. Try again, same thing, again, still not. Let’s check the engine. Somehow I had the idea it had something to do with the sparkplug. As I kneeled down I saw the cable going to the sparkplug hanging of, and the sparkplug lead missing. Shit! There is no way I would have lost a sparkplug lead! Someone must have intentionally taken it… Doom scenarios playing in my head, I bet someone took it off to steal the bike at night… Now what?

So I walked over to some guys who were attempting to fix a bike 10 meters ahead and asked them if they’d seen anyone touching my bike. “No, no see, no see.” A group of 7 or 8 guys now starts gathering around me and touching the chook chaser, trying to diagnose what I had already diagnosed, pulling on hoses and things. You would think that the word “no” is internationally understood, but not by these guys… Then one of them goes over to his broken bike and comes back with his sparkplug lead. It works, but he wants $20 for it. “Miss 20 dollar good price, now I no bike” “Well, your bike was already broken. But how do I know you didn’t take the sparkplug lead?” At this point I was fairly sure they did take the part and were now testing how much money they could get out of me. “Five dollars is the absolute maximum, no more”. After some five minutes of me not wanting to pay him $20, one of them seems to have found something in the gutter. Like magic another sparkplug lead has appeared. “Miss, miss look, for you 5 dollar” “Hahahaha now you are trying to make me pay for my own bike part, no way!” this continues on for another 5 minutes. Searching through my bag for something to give them except money. But they wouldn’t settle for a pen.

Then the boldest one of them says “You can pay with kiss” I laughed “Ow well, one kiss, and only on the cheek and then I’m off” This of course created general hysteria in the group. All of them were laughing, clapping and yelling things. I had no idea what they were saying. The sparkplug lead was put on the bike and the guy made a bit of a ceremony before kissing my cheek. The whole thing was wildly entertaining to the spectators. The bike started and the crowd was yelling “Bye bye, thank you miss, thank you miss!!!”. Riding off into the Timorese night I was happy the bike was fine and in my possession and the guys must have had a great night.

2 thoughts on “A Kiss and a Thank You Miss

  1. Thanks for your response. Yeah, it happens, all part of it! But there are to many positive moments to let this turn me off travelling :) I have a tarp I can use as a cover. But rarely feel like places are actually unsafe.

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