There is never a dull moment when traveling with us. Ask the few brave ones that have tried it and they will always tell you a few stories of when things really didn’t go right. We always laugh about it in the end and always say its part of the adventure but boy they can be very stressful! Miami was no different but this time we were driving on the opposite side of the road and using a scooter that can barely make it over 55km per hour.
Something as simple as renting a scooter and riding down the Miami Beach seems to be a mission for us. As always I was a little nervous trying something new especially when I have to ride a scooter (I am not even a fan of riding bicycles) and drive on the other side of the road, but with a little persuasion from my carefree wife, I agreed to do it. Thinking it can’t be that hard when you see so many others doing it all around Miami, we ventured out to rent our new mode of transport.
The deal was I would drive and as long as I didn’t go too fast Phillipa would be happy. Phillipa did offer to drive but my ego would never allow it. Not only are we riding a scooter (a real man’s bike) but we wore dorky helmets and the thought of me holding onto Phillipa would break any sense of manhood I had left.
It seems the theme of our 6 month trip was to rent from very dodgy companies and renting a scooter was no exception. After filling out a few forms we were then asked “Have you rode a scooter before?” I smiled and gave a little girlie giggle and said “No”. I am not sure if it was the animal instinct in him sensing fear or my answer had that little croak in it like a boy who is just going through puberty but when he answered “It’s not that hard” he showed signs of regret and seemed very worried all of a sudden.
We walked to our bike and with some instructions on how to ride the scooter he made it clear a few times that there was petrol in the tank. “How you get it is how you return it” and continued to tell me that it would only cost me $2 to fill the tank and a 2 hour bike ride should only cost 50cents. Opening up the petrol tank he showed us there was petrol in there and off we went. It seems a little odd that he would open the tank and show us but assuming that’s what you do when renting a scooter we just went on our way.
The first few kilometers were a little shaky. With my balance a bit all over the place and stressing about driving on the wrong side of the road, things eventually seemed to get a bit easier. We weren’t wobbling all over the place like a worm but cruising along like we knew what we were doing. Phillipa is taking pictures over my shoulder and everything is looking great. With this new confidence we see a really cool bridge and decide to ride over it.
Just before we ride over the bridge I look down and see that the petrol indicator is showing low. I think to myself how that can be when it only cost 50cents to refill what we have used in 2 hours. I don’t see any petrol station on this side of the bridge maybe on the other side. Going up the bridge we feel the engine struggling a bit. The thought of running out of petrol came to mind but the little voice inside, the voice of hope, was trying to tell me that it’s all ok and it’s just the angle of the bike on the bridge. Stupid voice it was wrong. Really wrong. Mid way up the 4 lane bridge we find ourselves stuck without a single drop of petrol. Do you think there was any service lane that we could pull into? Of course not, otherwise where is the adventure in that, right? Here we are, stuck on a very busy bridge in Miami pushing along a scooter without petrol. It’s funny right? Of course it is, because it wasn’t you pushing that hunk of junk over the bridge.
Over the bridge we go and still not a service lane in sight. There was a foot path next to the road so we pushed the scooter over the concrete barrier and onto the footpath. I did worry about scratching the whole bottom of the bike but getting hit by a car made that worry obsolete. First thing we did was get on the phone and call the rental place to find the nearest petrol station. Calling from our international mobiles we call the number we were given and what happens? A fax machine picks up. 6 calls later (8 English pounds later) someone finally picks up but with our adventures there is always a catch. We ran out of credit before we could even get the message across. As I looked at Phillipa trying to get connected I could see steam being released from her body. Yes that’s right Phillipa’s blood was boiling! Especially when they finally answered again and told her that we needed to find a gas station! I kept trying the scooter in “hope” that it would miraculously start and what do you know it did. I quickly made the waving motion (like people stuck on an island) screaming at Phillipa to get off the phone and go. She jumps on and we are off YAY for a total of 500m.
Running out of petrol wouldn’t be such a big issue except true to form Phillipa had booked in another tour just over 1 hour from then. Time was ticking and we had no idea how far the next petrol station is.
We saw a council gardener doing his rounds and thought he might the just the kind of person we could ask for the nearest petrol station. Phillipa rushes over and asks but the gardener instructed Phillipa to bring the bike over. We thought that we could just leave the bike with him and he would show us the nearest petrol station. But the guy continued to walk to the back of his truck and gets out the one single thing everyone who runs out of petrol wants to see. RACV cover… no, it’s better than that. It was a jerry can full of petrol. It was like the clouds parted and a ray of sunshine (the ones you see in the movies) shone on the red can. He filled us up enough for us to locate the petrol station and get back. We didn’t have much to offer him but we figured we could give him a few dollars for his trouble.
The guy said that wasn’t necessary and he would get in a lot of trouble if he accepted money but if we insist we should leave it on the ground. Finding the request a little odd, we slowly put the money on the ground. The same way a robber would put down his gun and walk away slowly. As soon as we walked away the gardener made a remark “Oh look I found some money on the ground”. I guess he didn’t want to get seen taking our money but I am not sure what difference it makes if we put it on the ground, but he was fantastic and very helpful.
We hopped back on the scooter made a quick stop at the petrol station and back to the rental place with 2 minutes to spare. With our new adventure under our belt we can happily laugh about it now but next time I am going straight to a petrol station and filling it up!