01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Car Trouble 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Car Trouble

In the past few weeks, I've been having a bit of car trouble. First my turbo blew up rather spectacularly (but fortunately only 300 yards down the road from our house), then my timing belt snapped on the school run causing all sorts of damage under the bonnet. This was the day after it had come out of a service. None of this has been very well timed, it being January and all that - and we are supposed to be saving up for my husband's 40th (at this rate it will be 5 friends, a can of beer to share and roasting marshmallows over an open fire). Add this to the 'coming together' I had at the end of last year (see previous post), it all makes for a rather bad track record. (I never quite had the heart to claim for the damaged wheel arch on that one).

I can only conclude that the problems were caused by my beginning to whinge to my husband about wanting to sell my car and perhaps trade-in for a newer model. The 1993 car with electric windows that don't work, intermittent a/c (gets a bit sweaty when the a/c packs up and you can't open the windows either - awkward for automatic parking barriers in shopping centres too), a leaking roof, no handbrake (making hill starts rather adrenaline fuelled) and tendency to gobble fuel was getting me down - but now I see that I should never, ever have bad-mouthed it. The revenge has been vicious.

Since my car has, for the past ten days, been having its cylinder head re-built, I've been driving my husband's car. It's been a most pleasant drive - a/c that works, a button that lets me check the temperature outside just for fun, surfing radio channels rather than being stuck on Kiss FM, volume control on the steering wheel. Meanwhile my husband has, chivalrously, been borrowing a 2 door pick-up that our eldest daughter calls 'The Ford'. The context being 'we don't have to go to the school bus in THE FORD do we Daddy!!' or 'you're not taking us home in THE FORD are you?!' N.b. She is very image conscious. Conversely the youngest said,
'Daddy's SO lucky?'
'Why?' I asked.
'He gets to drive the pick-up EVERY DAY!'

Sadly, the pleasant experience of borrowing my husband's car was marred last Wednesday when I managed to hoof it into the one in front on the bumps on Langata road. We were moving slowly and the vehicle 2 cars ahead unfortunately stalled.....while I was gazing out of the side window. Suffice to say that I didn't react quickly enough and somehow pressed my bull bar/bumper into the car in front's rather sexy VX spare wheel arm.

Both the driver in front and I pulled over, got out and inspected the damage - thankfully he was not too cross. When he opened the back of his car, I saw that the metal under the spare wheel looked admittedly crumpled. We exchanged phone numbers. I sheepishly handed over my husband's business card and scribbled my name on the back.

'Don't worry' he said; adding ominously, 'we'll be in touch.'

Later, once home again, I noticed that my (husband's) bull bar had somehow pressed back into the bonnet on impact and the tongue of mental that is supposed to support some kind of UN style aerial, but in our case is redundant, had caused a noticeable scratch.

My youngest was in the car - because we were on our way to kindergarten.
'Don't worry mummy,' she said, touching my leg, 'it wasn't a bad fault. I still love you.'
The mechanic I spoke to later that day said something about stopping distances....

A friend phoned later that day.
'Your four year old daughter informs me that you had a crash this morning - I hope you are OK.'

Damn, I thought, I was hoping to keep this latest incident on the down-low. I already have a road near our house affectionately named by friends after me because I've managed to have two crashes on it so far!

I said on the phone, 'it was nothing really - nothing at all.'
I chose not to reveal that the estimate we had already received from the other car entitled 'this morning's incident between KA... and KA...' enclosing a quotation for repair was 37,000 shillings to bang out a bit of crinkled metal. No small amount. My husband had said, 'well, you must have given it a fair old whack didn't you?'

'Oh well, that's OK' my friend said eventually - (and after a lot of blushing on my behalf), 'glad it wasn't serious.....because I had a crash last Monday and just didn't want to feel like I was the only idiot driver this week.'

This morning, the man that I drove into last week waved to me jovially as we passed each other on the road. I winced. I hope my old car is fixed soon that I can go back to being incognito. All is forgiven!

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