Saipan Dumplings, or Moped Birder Rides the Rain

They were worth it.

   The monsoon rains were here, emboldened by the gathering typhoon in the west. Layers of hard rain beat against the windows of the our hotel suite, drowning out our afternoon plans to ride north and look for Micronesian Megapodes (a rare sort of scrubfowl living on Saipan). I looked longingly out the window at the silver vespa scooter I'd rented a few hours before, and cursed the gray weather.

Micronesian Megapode

   By the end of the hour we were starving, having finally recovered from the heavy doses of Japanese sake and Korean soju the night before. Blue had called to invite us on a hike out to the Forbidden Island, but we got the message a few hours too late, so we spent the afternoon lounging on the porch, watching the rain over cigars and fried crickets (tastier than one might imagine).

   But now it was dark, and the hunger had come. Our Saipan itinerary revolved around a long hit list of restaurants, culinary excitements that we'd lacked during the last four months on Rota. It was going to be tricky to squeeze all of them into our short four-day stay, and unexpected rains weren't helping. Next on the list was a new Chinese cafe that served fresh dumplings, promised to us as the best we'd ever had. The rain seemed to intensify every time I looked out the window.

  Screw it. There were fried oriental dumplings to be had. I tossed J her helmet and strapped on mine. She put on her new black dress and I slid into a pair of shorts and sandals. It was laughable riding gear at best, especially for an after-dark ride through a tropical storm, but if we were going to be damned fools, we weren't about to half-ass it.

   I'd rented the moped from a seedy Chinese man with a parrot on his shoulder. The steering was loose and it wobbled a bit more than I'd have liked, but it ran. I cranked the starter and we took off The rain blasted us the whole way up the Middle Road, and I could barely see. J was silent, sure that survival was impossible. The spray of the rain reminded me of the Texas storm that had nearly ended me on my cross-country ride last Spring.

Good job, little moped

   The lights of the dumpling shop suddenly appeared ahead. We'd made it one way at least. We parked and went in to order, shivering as the heavy air-conditioning chilled our soaking wet skin. We went outside and stood in front of an exhaust duct to warm up, laughing like idiots. Our heaping order came quickly, and we strapped it to the bike. A fool's miracle got us safely back to the hotel for hot showers.

   We spread the food out on the bed and popped our chopsticks apart. The dumplings were still steaming; tender, delicious, and worth every rain-soaked mile.

No comments:

Post a Comment