The night was totally black as we neared the summit, and Italy. 3km from Italy both me and Katarina noticed a slight smell of burning from Connie the Connector (Focallocal’s beautiful van). As we began driving up a steep incline Connie suddenly lost almost all its power, the engine was revving but it was hardly moving forwards at all. In 1st gear, with the engine roaring and the cabin filling with smoke I was just about able to pull off of the road and stop at a conveniently placed sightseeing spot at the top of the incline.
After hiding from our troubles for the night we awoke to find them still there waiting for us – we were stranded at the top of a mountain, unable to go anywhere. The 1st few phone calls to mechanics and Mercedes dealers were terrifying! As I suspected it was most likely the clutch that had given up on us and we were quoted on average 2000e to be towed down from the mountain and to have a new one fitted (parts and labour).
In need of a little space to clear my head I climbed up near the peak to where I’d seen a small waterfall to fill up our water bottles from a natural spring. The view into the valley below was astounding and by the time I got down again the stress had completely vanished. Katarina (being Slovenian) had been able to find a local mechanic who upon hearing our situation offered to come get us for around half the price others had quoted and drive us to a kind hearted friend he said would help us out.
With a little push we got the van rolling downwards, using gravity and an unhealthy aversion to breaking to take us as far as possible in the direction of the mechanics town. Somehow we made it about 20km, half-way, before reaching an uphill section too steep for momentum to carry us past. The mechanic arrived with his tow truck, a tall, friendly looking man who arrived with a smile.
Mr Gorenš?ekdemeanour was consistently calm which was perfect as the funds I saved up for the project were almost gone and I wasn’t at all sure I could afford the repairs, so a calming presence, relaxed presence was useful.
It was also good because clearly his truck was not designed to carry a vehicle the same size as out van Connie the Connector, and most people would have caused a big fuss, or just left. Mr Gorenš?ek looked around, did some adjustments and winched van up, and with the rear wheels still hanging precariously over the back he locked everything in place, announced queitly his success and we drove off ..with three quarters of Connie’s wheels hanging over the back of his truck, it was as though dragging along like a petulant child.
He seemed calmly assured that it was not going to fall off so we got in to enjoy the ride, except for me looking out the back window terrified when we hit each and every bump and sharp bend.
Also published on Medium.