GTA, without hot chocolate

All was going well, at first. I passed Rome, stopped for a short break just before Florence, and kept going… The engine seemed to be running a little hot but I figured that was due to the heavy load and hours of highway. The indicator still remained in the white “safe” area as long as I didn’t try to go too fast, so I didn’t worry too much.

Come 7pm, I had passed Genova and was approaching the French border. Passing a couple of trucks, I suddenly heard something go “poof”. Looking in the rear-mirror, black and white smoke was coming out of the exhaust pipe. Uh-oh…

Emergency stop at the next service station, it turned out most of the oil was gone…. strange, as I had filled the tankup just one month before. Filled it up again, the car agreed to start reluctantly. I had to stop again 10 km later or see the engine melt from under me. Sooo… the cooling liquid was all gone, too. I managed to borrow some water from a truck that happened to park there and started the engine again, but after 5 more minutes of this treatment I was forced to stop on the emergency lane, this time for good. I was 60 km away from my destination.

Used one of those roadside emergency phones to call a rescue car (in Italian), then had my uncle find the 24/7 number of my insurance and called them up, too. They found me a hotel in the nearby town of Imperia and mostly dealt with the garage on my behalf, which was a blessing considering my Italian wasn’t getting any better as the day weet on. The next morning, my car was brought to an official Opel resort where it was to stay at least a few days for quotation and eventually repairs. In the meantime, the insurance paid for a rental car so that I could finish my trip back to Paris. A big one too, some high-end Alfa-Romeo with lots of space for all my stuff and handling like a sleepy bull.

After loading up the new car, I didn’t go far that day and stopped in Cagnes to see my grandparents, who were very glad indeed to see me arrive at last. Spent the afternoon and the night there, coughing my lungs out thanks to a nasty cold I’d managed to catch in the meantime, and in the morning I was off to Toulon to visit my other grandmother, have lunch and unload most of my stuff which didn’t need to go all the way to Paris anyway. Might as well travel light. She, too, was quite happy to see me (it’d been two years!). Around 2pm I jumped back in the sleepy bull and headed off to Paris. Through fog and heavy rain I drove, and late into the evening to finally arrive in Creteil a little before 9… and find the street blocked by firemen.

There was a gas leak in the building across the street, you see, and they feared an explosion if a hot engine or even a cellphone got too close. I was allowed to park at the end of the street and walk home -slowly. The day was complete.

Thursday was spent repacking, looking for a big metal case and preparing what would have to be shipped separately. The metal case and the desktop totaled at 65 kg… 600 euros by fedex economy. To this day we are still looking for a viable solution that doesn’t involve my computer being dropped from on high into the back of a garbage truck. But that is a story for another day… The car repairs, with communication still handled by the insurance, turned out to be around 1300 euros. Still interesting financially, so we went with it. My uncle will have to take a train there once it’s ready, drive it back to Nice and put it on a train there bound for Paris, where… hopefully, somebody will pick it up. And store it away for the next year.

Because now start my adventures in ze America…


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