Monday, 14 May 2012

The world’s grumpiest mechanic and Jesus.

Day 19 - 11.05.12 Santander

We get up bright and early to take the van to the garage so that any problems can be fixed in plenty of time for the evening.  We arrive and meet our mechanic, an overweight Spaniard with a serious attitude problem.  Within 15 minutes he has insulted women, the English and our van, all whilst tutting, grumbling to himself and throwing spanners around.  It rapidly becomes apparent that it’s not a simple fix.  He finds a broken part and goes off to find a replacement.  Another mechanic named Jesus adapts the part to fit our van but it doesn’t solve the problem.  We’ve been hanging around for a couple of hours by now and it’s not looking good. 

Soon, in order to move another car out of the garage, our van must be shifted out of the way.  Senor Grumpy gets in and moves the van out into the street and smack bang into a shiny brand new red car parked on the other side.  He leaves two big dents in the side and a huge scrape (the photo really doesn’t do it justice).  Thankfully Van Diesel escapes with just a minor scratch to the bumper.  People talk about a person’s face ‘dropping’ but that’s not what happened with the owner of the red car.  It looked like something inside him just broke, like someone ripped out his soul and kicked it in the balls.  He was angry and gutted at the same time as he stormed into the garage with a pen and paper for insurance information.  He try to keep our heads down hoping nobody asks for our details.  Thankfully it all gets sorted without our involvement.

After further waiting, draining the radiator and grumbling, Jesus steps in and tells us they cannot repair the van so that it’s safe to drive.  He explains through a combination of broken English, slow Spanish and Google translate that our best option is to call it quits and ring a tow truck.

Utterly destroyed we call the breakdown company and ask what to do.  The wonderful Stephanie at ADAC, rapidly becoming our new favourite person, asks to speak to Jesus.  She explains that ADAC have a contract with the garage and that they need to be completely positive the van can’t be fixed before writing it off.  Jesus agrees to look further at the problem and before we know it the van is up on a ramp and we’re shooed off to return when Stephanie calls.

We know the garage closes between 1 and 3:30 so since its 12:30 we’re in for a long wait.  We find some lunch and then hit town looking for suitcases and planning for the worst in case we’re back off to Blighty tomorrow to wait for our buggered van.  Things are looking pretty bleak.

We get in touch with ADAC around 4;30 and get the best news ever, they can fix the van and it’ll be ready tonight.  FANTASTIC!  We check in at the garage and leave a number to call when the van is done, we’re told around 7pm.  We hang around town a bit more and then get the call to go pick up the van.  The bill is big, but only what we’d expected.  We pay, say our thanks and trundle back down to the car park to chill the hell out.

Sadly Friday night means that the local teens come down to the beach car park to listen to music on their ludicrously loud stereos, play football and hang out.  The music is 90s euro dance and it’s like trying to sleep in a tacky hotel disco on the Costa del Chav.  I mentally run through my scenarios to make it stop, from the sublime (a River Tam style flip out) to the ridiculous (fashioning a bat lamp out of a torch and electrical tape in the hope Bruce Wayne comes to help).  Chris manages to somehow sleep through it but I’m wide awake till 4am. 

All in all a rollercoaster of a day I would not like to repeat.


  1. Well done Ali! Everyone we know with an older van's spent a bit of time in the garage, but no one has had their van reversed into someone's car! You heroes. :) It's lashing it down here in the Dolomites, but we're stupidly excited about seeing the Giro d'Italia. Ju's tweeting Mark Cavendish as I type. Keep on trucking and writing, loving reading what you're up to. Jay

  2. Thanks Jay, it certainly was a nail biter of a day! Glad to hear you're enjoying the blog, its always nice to know people are reading! My ex boss is from the Dolomites funnily enough, enjoy!