So – we made it to Eilat.
Mister Mechanic stayed in his shop under Vaguely Sinister Wife’s watchful eye (and concealed .45) late into the evening, reassembling Long-Suffering Renault’s engine, now including the correct (I hope!) timing belt, water pump, and their exciting collection of fashion accessories. As he labored, he frequently called his associate who had disassembled the thing, to ask what went where; since the guy specializes in four-by-fours rather than family cars, apparently he hadn’t done this particular job on this particular model before. Somehow he got the engine back together, with only a few probably-unimportant parts left over; V.S.W. drove home and life continued in its course.
More or less.
The first time I drove the Renault, I noticed that it was idling a bit rough. Of course, I was concerned. Maybe one of those unimportant left-over parts actually was supposed to do something? But the car did seem to run decently once it had warmed up a bit, so I reassured myself that things must not be too bad. After all, the last time Long-Suffering Renault had a problem with the timing belt, the results were a rather catastrophic engine failure rather than just a little rough going; I assumed that if Mister Mechanic had made some drastic error, it would manifest in some equally spectacular fashion.
Before all this drama started, I had already been concerned that my car was showing some manifestations of A.A.S. (Automotive Angst Syndrome, that is – although as a French car, it probably prefers to be diagnosed with less-Germanic diseases of the soul). Mostly it ran fine; but once in a while it took a couple of attempts to start it, and a couple of times it stalled out on me at low speeds. The latter behavior was alarming; but as I do when Vaguely Sinister Wife fondles her chainsaw (a cherished birthday present from herself) and glances my way, I shrugged off the foreshadoings of possible doom. I’m a very good shrugger.
On Sunday morning, then, we set out for Eilat. All seemed copacetic. The luggage fit in the trunk, the Wolfoid was happily ensconced in the back of V.S.W.’s jeep, and none of the human passengers had more than superficial knife wounds. So generous was my mood that I decided to give Long-Suffering Renault a treat: when we gassed up at the northern fringes of the Negev Desert, I added a serving of fuel-injector cleaner to the car’s dinner. For such virtue one should receive only nice rewards, no?
No. As we proceeded into ever-deepening desert, my car began to seem distinctly anemic; while at 1.6 litres it’s never been exactly a muscle car, it was requiring much more gas-pedal action for much less impressive results than usual. And when it idled (and, for some reason, also at about 3000 R.P.M.) it vibrated alarmingly. Something was definitely amiss. I believe I managed to present a convincing image of sangfroid (I’d originally written “coolth”, but is is a French car, after all) and thus didn’t alarm my passengers overmuch, but I was certainly alarmed. Would we make it to Eilat? “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” – seldom have I so sincerely meditated on that mantra. We managed to progress determinedly if not steadily southwards; and it was with a huge sense of relief that I finally greeted the hotels of Eilat as we laboriously topped a rise and they appeared in the middle distance.
We found the hotel – a fourth-rate Holiday Inn with the worst soundproofing I can recall in any hotel I’ve slept in that sponsors discotheques in its lobby every other evening – parked with only two or three stallouts, and proceeded with our vacation. (Wolfoid Dog is vacationing at a kennel here in Eilat, so we can visit him and see how he’s doing. I’m told he’s keeping company with a similarly wolfoid female, so I can only imagine him happy. In fact, I’m sometimes amazed that he doesn’t get tired just from smiling so much, the son of a bitch.)
Yesterday we spent the day at the beach, snorkeling and relaxing – except for Long-Suffering Renault, which doesn’t swim and thus hung out at the beach’s parking lot all day. The day was exactly the kind of day that makes for completely uninteresting blogging: nothing dramatic happened, and the big excitement was watching fish in every color of the rainbow (sometimes on the same fish!) swim about trying hard to ignore the stupid tourists. I worked hard on achieving a state of Zen Vacation Mindlessness; this state of mind (or of non-mind) is difficult for me to achieve, even with sun, fish, and light reading (a history of the Auschwitz Sondercommando) ready to hand. I state with pride that I managed it, pretty much, at least by my own medium-to-abysmal standards.
Today we took our car to a local mechanic, recommended by another mechanic who in turn had been recommended by a local friend of ours. He hooked a gizmo to our car’s internal computer, which promptly complained that one of its fuel injectors was unhappy. He informed us that a more detailed and reliable diagnosis would take a few hours, so we returned to Hotel Noisy; Vaguely Sinister Wife is out walking somewhere with Number One Daughter, and I’ve been left all alone in the hotel room with nothing but books, a bed, and the Internet. Poor me.
This is billed as a “serious” blog, meaning that I’m supposed to be drawing cosmic (or at least locally cosmic) conclusions from all the stuff that goes on around me. But I’m on vacation, fer chrissake! Can’t I just skip the conclusion this once?
OK, so I’ve got to come up with some lesson I’ve learned from my automotive travails. Here’s a first stab at it; and if you don’t like the moral, you can find me in the water tomorrow and complain about it. I’ll be the one with a snorkel sticking out above the surface.
Today’s profound lesson:
Make lots of money, so you can…
Buy a new car every few years, so you can…
Throw it out (or flog it off on someone) before it starts needing serious repairs, so you can…
Buy another one. (Repeat as needed.)
It’s not much of a lesson, is it? But I am, after all, on vacation.