One Wild Journey, One Crazy Couple, One Life to Live
Yesterday we rode the motorbike along Jalalabad road to visit the folks at RMA about the car repairs. Jalalabad road is known to be one of the most dangerous in Afghanistan; not only due to the number of traffic accidents, but also due to the number of attacks and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Most foreigners ride in armoured cars along this rode, not motorcycles. However, I think the motorcycle is the way to go. On the bike we are able to slip past bumper to bumper traffic without much more than a glance. We blend in. No one can tell I am female, and no one can tell we are not Afghan. Our helmets cover our hair and faces and my big black coat covers anything else identifiable as either foreign or female. Our bike is a typical Afghan mode of transport and when riding it I feel as I rarely do; inconspicuous. In contrast, people stare at the armoured vehicles, peering for a look inside. Such cars get stopped in traffic and by traffic police, while we mosey on by. I have decided I much prefer the understated approach. I am not so sure the bug will afford us that, but I will enjoy the understated while I can.
When we arrived at RMA we went through the regular security check and met with Valon Pula, the Workshop Manager to discuss the $6,231 quote we received for car restoration. When we first saw the quote we thought we may need to give up on the trip. This is the price that has been quoted for road-worthiness even after we had brought back a suitcase of parts from Ireland and had them installed. We thought it through and decided to take a visit to the shop.
Valon is great guy from Kosovo. He seems to know his cars and doesn’t want us to get stuck in the middle of nowhere with a bug that can’t be fixed. We walked through some of the repairs, talked about how to get parts in from other countries, met Patrick the procurement officer, and even talked about shipping in a restored motor from Germany. In the end, it was agreed that we would return to the shop in the near future and Valon will remove the engine.
He will clean and check all of the parts so we can determine what repairs are essential and what can be left to fate. This seems to be the next best step. In the process, I get to learn how to take the engine out and get to take a look at all the parts. I am going to bring along my trusty “How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot” and take lots of notes!