One Wild Journey, One Crazy Couple, One Life to Live
Hubby and I had our first ride in the bug together. We realized on the way that although we have had the car for a few years, we have been looking after it on shifts. We both lead pretty busy lives, so we would each take whatever chance we could get to work on the car or take it out for a spin. As it turns out, those chances were when the other was busy. I guess when we were both free; we had other things to do together. Last week, however, we both sat in the car to take it back to RMA Group for a thorough check. It was a strange feeling – partly because I got the first taste of what it may be like sitting in a small, confined space with two people over 11,000 kms, but mostly it was because I was not in the driver’s seat.
Those who know me well know that I am somewhat of a control freak. I like to be in charge and I like to be able to control the strategy. I had a boyfriend when I was in university who was dubbed ‘Separate Cars Andrew’ due to the fact that we were similar in this sense. As a result, we often ended up taking separate cars to the same function. This allowed us both to be in control. As strange as it may sound, it worked. So, you can imagine how difficult it is for me to admit what I discovered last week, but here goes: my husband can drive the bug much better than I can. Ouch.
I put his superiority down to the years of practice he had driving farm machinery. The bug has a tendency to act and react a bit like an old tractor. He seems much more able to maneuver first and second gear than I am. Not that the gear change is smooth by any stretch of the imagination, but he finds the gear for the most part and gets it in there. It took me a while, but I finally admitted his advanced ability. I think he gloated for a second then reassured me that it will just take some practice. We decided that until I can get the practice, he will be the city driver.
Every time we attempted third gear, we lost all momentum and began to chug and lurch. We figured, in our very non-mechanical minds, it could be due to several things but most likely the poor quality of fuel in Afghanistan. It is well known that stations and shops add water, turpentine, white spirits or whatever they can find to increase their revenue (in 2007 the diesel froze in my generator). We had a conversation about it when we reached RMA and I was appalled to find out that, until recently, this was common practice with airplane fuel as well! Unfortunately, we were low on fuel and whatever the quality; we needed it. With some tricky gear changes, we weaved our way through traffic, around bikes, food-carts, and boys using the road as a soccer pitch to reach the gas station.
The attendants were both shocked and amused to see two foreigners driving up in an old VW and quickly came out to meet us. One attendant struck up a conversation with my husband, who had no idea what he was saying. Through the hand gestures, one could only assume he was asking “why the hell are you driving this thing?!”
The new fuel made not one iota of a difference in the performance of the car for the remainder of the approximately 10 km distance to RMA Group. At one stage, my husband turned to me and said “its a long drive to Jalalabad road! 11,000kms is going to be a really long drive!” Upon arrival, our dear contact showed us a fuel filter that he is going to order in for us. He also told us he would order in any colour of paint we would like, while he muttered something about not being able to believe we were doing this. In the end, he let us know that he would do whatever he could to help us out – as long as we didn’t call him in distress along the way. We agreed.