Four Wheels Around - A Road Trip from the UK to South Africa

In February 2009 we are setting off on the trip of a lifetime from Brighton, E-Sussex, UK to South Africa. Furthermore, we are raising money for the British Red Cross along the way. This blog will cover our preparation until we leave and our adventures whilst we are on the road.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Poor Carol!

Alas Poor Carol.
Despite plans to head towards the Black Sea coast, this morning when we realised what a beautiful day it was we decided to spend another night in Brasov and leave tomorrow.
We noticed a few days ago that liquid was leaking in the drivers foot well around the clutch pedal. Like i have said in previous posts it has been raining....a lot since we left England, so we figured, or rather, hoped that the leak had be caused by some excess water running to the inside of the vehicle. Alas this morning, when Alex was asked to move the vehicle just down the road a little he noticed the clutch was depressing far too quickly with very little resistance. Bad times. To cut a long story short, Carol is not very well. We feared the worst but it seems that it is not terminal and hopefully the show will go on. The staff at the Kismet Dao hostel have been extremely helpful, they got on the phone to a friend who then went out of his way to help us. It appeared that the leak was clutch fluid. Somewhere along the line, clutch fluid was leaking but as far as we were able to discover this we weren't sure of the cause of the leak. The helpful Romanian drove us to buy some more clutch fluid and we topped it up. He then drove in front of us all the way to a garage the other side of town. The mechanics quickly deduced that it was the 'master cylinder' or in layman's terms a pump of some sorts that was kaput and needed replacing. Unfortunately Romanian's are not famed for their knowledge of Land Rovers, Renault and Dacia yes, but British cars, not so much. However, we have left sick Carol in their care a new pump thingy is on the way and all being well we can get back on the road within a few days.

It was a tense drive to the garage, although only 3 miles away from where we are staying, the biting point of the clutch was getting lower and lower. It got to the point where even with the clutch fully depressed Carol was still engaging gear and travelling forward. We knew that time was running out for her (oh the drama). Alex tried to avoid changing gear as much as he could, however this is a bit tricky around a busy town with lots of roundabouts and traffic lights!

It is sad to leave Carol and we feel preturbed that she is having issues already. We are also worried about the cost and further problems that could develop. There is little we can do until tomorrow when hopefully we will know more, but in theory it is not a big job, (touch wood). I will keep you posted.

In the meantime, there are worse places to be stranded that Brasov so we are not too disheartened. It is my third time in Romania and it is here in Brasov that I spent 3 months volunteering back in 2004. Everytime I come back here, the place is full of good memories and familiarities for me. New places, shops and pubs have sprung up but many of my favourite old haunts are still around and its great to re-explore them. Romania is changing rapidly. I can see massive differences, good and bad, from my first visit 5 years ago. For example, back in 2004 there were numerous gypsy children begging on the main pedestrianised street here in Brasov. To the extent that any trip into town would involve fending them off. I noticed there were fewer beggers when I came back in 2007 and on this occasion I have seen only one child begging. I am sure that there are still many poor gypsy families but they seem less in your face now, a hidden minority. In 2004, Brasov was less modernised, there were few chain stores (except United Colours of Benetton and McDonalds) now there are far more. A KFC on the very historic, central square is not a good look. It seems that Brasov and infact Romania as a whole is modernising very quickly but to me the country still retains its unique way of life and culture.

I mentioned the roads earlier. Another example. Since joining the EU it is as though Romania has been instructed to completly overhaul its road network. Some are complete and the best roads we have driven on yet. Other roads are in complete disrepair and have provided some of the most challenging driving for Alex so far.

I am always intrigued by the seemingly very religious nature of Romania. The main religion here is Romanian Orthodox and the churches are very ornate and decorative, inside and out. When we met Raluca, the Romanian girl living in Timosoara she explained that in Communist times the only religion permitted was Roman Catholic. She informed us that in modern Romania people are again free to follow the Romanian orthodox religion and thus even the young people are interested. It was condemmed for so long, now it is valued. People pass churches in their cars or on the bus and many people, (old and young) bless themselves as they pass. We visited the Romanian Orthodox cathedral in Timisoara where we saw people of all ages praying, even queing to get into the building.

I have many more observations to make about Romania, but I think I have gone on too long so I will save them for another day. We may be in Romania for a few more unscheduled days so plenty of time! I hope that you all keep your fingers crossed for poor Carol.

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