Time To Buy a Moped

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Time To Buy a Moped

Postby Micronaut » Sun Sep 18, 2005 5:05 pm


When I turned sixteen, instead of wishing for a car for my birthday as most American teenagers do, I dreamed of owning a moped. At that time, Honda just produced little 50 cc motorcycles, kick started, three-speed, slick looking with bright color body. It was an instant hit in Vietnam, replacing the staid old Vespa or Lambretta we saw on the streets. My dream came true when I passed the admittance test to enter high school. Dad bought me a brand new Honda.

It was not safe to ride a moped in the US so I never owned one in the country. There was no need to. Cars were relatively inexpensive, especially the used ones, and gasoline was only 57 cents a gallon when I arrived in 1975.

Leaving my second country, my husband and I sold our vehicles. We did not want to bring our gas-guzzling automobiles to the island. Instead of a little over two dollars a gallon in the US, the gasoline costs 1.68 guilders a liter, which translated into around four dollars a gallon. We bought a cheap truck for transportation. Cheap was a relative term because the truck was 30% more expensive than a similar model in the States due to import taxes. But it was difficult to compare because there was no exact same model available in the US.

Our truck was a plain one with no air bag on either side, no ABS brake and no fog light. It has manual transmission and no power locks or windows. I don’t think the manufacturer was allowed to sell that kind in the US. Whatever it did not have, it did provide us good exercise just by rolling the stiff windows up and down a few times a day.

Even on this remote island, we could feel the impact of price increase in crude oil. The instant crude oil prices climbed above the 60 dollars mark, all three gas stations on the islands raise their price to 1.89 per liter or 4.25 dollars per gallons. The increase hits hard on local folks whose average earnings are about a thousand dollars a month and to us, retirees with no income, not even a social security check. We cut down on pleasure excursions and try not to make more than one trip a day to town.

More and more tourists I saw are renting mopeds instead of cars. Chugging along the dusty road, under the fierce sun of the Caribbean, they seem happy to do what they seldom do at home. My husband seems happy also. He gets a chance to exercise his eyes on those scantily clad women, with shorts and a bikini top, bouncing along on the road in this little paradise.

Paradise still costs money to live. We are thinking about buying a moped. Even if we do not want to make more than one trip a day to town, we may still have to. Living on an island, sometimes we must visit three grocery stores before we could find some jasmine rice, which I could not live without, or the right kind of beer, which my husband could not live without. A moped with a back basket would be the right kind of transportation for us, especially when crude oil price increases to 100 dollar per barrel, as all experts predict.

Let see if I could find another moped similar to the one I locked to the old house gate before we left thirty years ago.

July 27, 2005

Tinah Tran [send her mail], an engineer, lived in the US for 30 years, and is now retired on a Caribbean island with her husband. Other articles from her can be read at Slant eye view of the world.

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