Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My Poor Car

Last night, I went to open the trunk of my car, and I couldn't.

I did a lot of jiggling of the key because for some time now I've been the only one who can open it, but I knew just where that secret sweet spot was that popped it open. That sweet spot seems to be gone now.

Add this to a long and growing list of things that no longer work on my car. Last week I finally discovered why my rear speakers were making a nasty buzzing noise- the polypropylene cones had dissolved into little flakes of plastic, this despite being only a couple years old. I blame that one on the brutal UV rays of the tropical sun, which have baked the paint off the hood and caused the fabric on Lucas' child seat to similarly break down.

The other things that used to work but no longer do include:
  • The air conditioning
  • The alarm
  • The automatic door locks
  • The driver's side door lock- still locks, but doesn't unlock
  • The bolt at the bottom of the oil pan that lets the dirty oil out
  • The rear wiper
  • The waterproof qualities of the body
  • The left rear running light
  • The hubcaps
Actually, that last one isn't true. The hubcaps are just gone- a couple broken, a couple stolen. Some of these are simple fixes, like the busted light bulb, and I actually tried to fix it once but they sold me the wrong bulb. The thing is, I may never get around to fixing it because I have no real incentive to do so. Cars here are not inspected, except nominally (ironically, for exactly things like this- lights, directionals, not mechanical things like brakes or anything) when you first put the plates on them. I will never be pulled over on the highway by a cop- not for speeding, not for missing safety equipment, not for throwing beer cans out the window. I've seen trucks, even buses, driving at night with no lights at all. I once saw a guy driving a motorcycle in the heart of the city with an open beer in his hand. The only way you get stopped here is when they do 'blitzes,' which is mostly a check for weapons that they perform from time to time. I did get stopped, and fined, at one of these once- my registration had lapsed (you do need to register your car) and they wanted to impound my car. It was the day of Lucas' first birthday party and I had bags of ice melting in my now unopenable trunk and I begged for mercy. First birthday parties being an extremely big deal here, I think that's probably why they took pity on me.

On the positive side, none of the car's essential systems are broken. My tires and brakes are good. I figure you need decent tires and brakes on your car or you're an irresponsible idiot. The rest... well, I want to fix it, I just can't afford to right now. Actually, I'd love to get a nicer, newer car (and I know a certain spouse who wishes I'd do the same) but that is out of the question. The funny thing is, with the exception of the trunk problem and the rear speakers, this is still the nicest, lowest-mileage car I've ever owned. It's got power windows and steering. It's got four doors. It's got a CD player. It's just that it kinda stinks of mildew in the winter and... it's gradually dying.

The further irony of this car is that I don't really need it. I live right in the heart of the city, and I can, and do, walk to almost everything I need to on a day to day basis. I really only use it to go to the supermarket, to get to Capoeira, and to go to Paripe. I sometimes drive it only once or twice a week. If it died tomorrow it really wouldn't be the end of the world, although I would be unhappy. Public transportation is pretty reliable here, but I can't stand riding on buses because half of the bus drivers are insane. I'd be tempted to ride a bike but the streets are just too crazy for that.

So here's hoping the next time I try to open that trunk it decides to cooperate.


Pedra said...

You are lucky that you have a car. I have thought about getting one, but not knowing how long I am going to stay here, I decided not to spend the money. The busses have been pretty good to me, but I do ride them in constant fear of the bus getting assaulted, or of getting assaulted while waiting for the bus, especially at night! And the crime rate rises dramatically during the month leading up to big holidays, such as the one coming up soon- São João. So here´s to safe riding for me and safe driving for you!

AkuTyger said...

When I moved here we had a corsa that had something new break on it weekly. Yet, unbelievably offers would be made to buy it all the time out and around the city. We finally managed to sell it to a neighbor here who is a card dealer and he gave us a nice deal on a white Gol that was stolen from right in front of our condo less than a year later. I won't even go into the insurance insanity that follows that.