Friday, October 20, 2006


Ok, so today I am going to try something different. I want to talk about the cars in my life. Why? Well, because I am a bit of a car nut, and I think cars have always been an important part of my life.

So to start with, I have to dig deep into my memory... So the cars of my childhood. I only remember my parents having one car, and that was a trabant. I've scoured the web for some pictures, and here's the best picture I could find. In Poland, we affectionately called them soapboxes. The body of the car was made out of plastic, which may explain the nickname :) You can find lots of information about the trabant at the following website. A very typical Polish car. The other two cars that I remember very well from that time, are the polonez driven by my
grandfather, and the little FIAT, or maluch (i.e. tiny one) driven by my other grandfather. I think these three cars probably represent more than 50% of the vehicular population of Poland at the time :)

So once we left Poland, we went to Algeria. There, we mostly drove Peugeots, the mainstay of cooperants there. Ours were the 504 model, a good workhorse. I really enjoyed those cars, though I am sure today I would find them quite unrefined. We took ours all over Western Europe and Northern Africa (ok, just Marocco, Algeria and Tunisia, but still), and they served us well. We had one different car in Algeria, though: an old Mercedes Benz, my first experience of a "couch on wheels". The seats in that car were so mushy, it was very very easy to get sea-sick in the back seat on winding roads... In fact, I really disliked being driven in that beast, although I am sure it was fun to drive :) Of course I was way too young to even start thinking about a driving license at the time (though I do remember being allowed to steer the Peugeot on a remote road once - a good memory!).

But the one good thing about the MB is that it saved our lives. We once had an accident so bad that the front axle broke on the car, we had three flats and the witnesses told us that we "need to kill a sheep and have a meshoui tonight" because we were very lucky to have even survived it... I remember the shocks coming out through the wheel wells, it was an unbelievable sight. But we got the car towed to a mechanic, who somehow managed to solder the axle, and promised us it would last us the rest of our life (though he made no promises as to the length of said life). I don't think we kept the car much longer after that, but we were certainly very thankful for the quality of its original built. There's no doubt in my mind that in a lesser quality vehicle we would have not survived (a few centimeters was all that was separating us from dropping down onto a highway into the path of big trucks). So if only for that reason, this car certainly deserves a special mention. And that may also be the reason why to this day I have a soft spot for german engineered vehicles... Though for the life of me I do not remember the model number of the car (the colour was something light and soft, like caramel or something). I'll have to ask my Mom if maybe she remembers.

Unfortunately, I have to conclude this episode of "down memory lane... the car version", because I have to get going. But stay tuned, part 2 will follow shortly :)

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