One Wild Journey, One Crazy Couple, One Life to Live
I have my trusty How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive manual, and Valon has the workshop manual for a 1969 VW Bus, which is more or less the same motor. Amazingly, the total of six suitcases of parts that we brought back from Ireland seem to fit in a small number of blue boxes on the workshop floor. I am no longer sure what all the fuss was about.
Valon thinks he can rebuild the motor by the end of the week, now that we have all the parts. Step-by-step he explains what he is doing and how all of the parts work within the system. I am thoroughly engrossed and am following along in the manual. It is incredible to watch Valon work – he explains each step almost word for word as the manual does. He only glances occasionally at his own workshop manual. Watching him makes me realize how little I know about anything mechanical. His father used to fix VWs when he was small, and it seems he learned each step by watching him undertake the same process from the time he was eight. I can remember watching my mother teach a school class when I was eight, but I certainly wouldn’t be able to stand up and do the same thing based on that memory!
I am completely enjoying the evening. We have been at the workshop several nights and Fridays and have gotten to know Valon and the RMA team a little. They are great teachers and great people. Valon, no matter how stressed or busy, is nothing but patient with us. More than once he took apart what had already been put together to better explain to us what was doing. He teaches his assistant, Bilau, the same patience and craftsmanship. Together they make a great team, and I am extremely happy that our car – that needs to travel over 11,000 kms, is in their hands.
Valon needs to leave to attend his sister’s wedding in a week, so he is determined to have the motor running before he leaves. My fingers are crossed.
As Valon is inserting the push rods and explaining the firing pattern to us (see, don’t I sound like I know what I am talking about), I notice that he has diverged from my manual. I assume he knows what he is doing and certainly do not want to question his expertise. I do however, notice that in large bold print, my book says: DO NOT forget the air deflector as your engine won’t run long without out it. It goes on to say the air deflectors should be inserted before the push rods or they are next to impossible to insert. I assume I have missed the insertion of the air deflectors and continue to watch as we eventually reach the flywheel stage. At this point – not sooner – I feel the need to mention the bold print in my book. At almost the same time, we all hear a loud boom in the distance. The Afghan team members are unfazed. Valon takes to searching his workshop manual for the missing step, cursing slightly. We take to calling security.
Sure enough, we missed the step (several steps back) of inserting the air deflector, which means that everything Valon assembled in the last couple of hours needs to be disassembled. And, sure enough, there was an explosion in the city. We decide to stay on until the commotion subsides and Valon takes apart the motor.
Unfortunately, we do not have the deflectors. We had come so far, only to reach another road block. We make our way back to the city to find out the Taliban had attacked the International Organization for Migration (IOM) office. We are happy to have been way out on the other side of the city when the blast happened, but some of our friends’ windows were damaged in the blast. We agree to take them in for the night and warn them they may need to help us to scour the city for VW air deflectors in the morning…