What fun cars are.
This morning around 9am we set off as usual for our weekly supermarket shop. Only we needed to get some petrol first. Half way to the petrol station, when we were paused at a crossroads, a motorbike pulled up beside us with the man on it pointing at the back of the car and obviously saying that there was something drastically wrong with it. In Greek, but the gesticulating was pretty clear...
The exhaust had been rather noisy for a while, and ten days ago we knew it would need changing soon, so I wondered if it had finally dropped off, or was hanging by a thread. So Richard pulled into the next side street and we got out to look.
Not the exhaust but the rear tyre on my side. It was completely flat. Too far to drive on to the petrol station, and we didn't have the foot pump with us...
So I stayed with the car and Richard went home to get it. Only five minutes walk but he took about twenty minutes... apparently when he got back he realised it was slightly broken but didn't have any screwdrivers at home, so he had to wake up Tim to borrow one from him before coming back.
Pumping was surprisingly effective and enabled us to drive on to petrol station (after a brief detour to the Thrift Store). There Richard used the proper air system to check all the tyres, and found that the rear passenger side tyre had lost some of its air already. Evidently there was a hole somewhere, so after filling it up again we drove to the place where he gets tyres changed. It wasn't all that long ago that we had new tyres so he hoped it would be fixable.
The engineer was available, and quickly found the end of a key embedded in the tyre. Then it was a simple matter to mend it apparently - it took about ten minutes in all, for which we were charged £4. Which is about £4.50 sterling or $9 US, if anyone's interested. Not unreasonable as a charge, although compared to normal Cypriot wages it was a huge amount for ten minutes' manual labour (a music teacher, for instance, gets between £6 and £7.50 per hour for one-on-one tuition).
Anyway we were happy to have it mended, and certainly didn't mind paying that charge. But... when the engineer lifted the car up so he could get at the tyre, we saw just how bad the exhaust was. Uh-oh. Evidently it needed changing immediately, not in a few weeks as we had thought. Ah well, the exhaust-changing place wasn't far from the tyre-changing place, so we drove on to there.
The exhaust man was able to look at the car immediately, but when it was up on the ramp he banged about at its underside and muttered a lot, and although he speaks very little English it was clear that there was more wrong than just the exhaust. His son arrived - who speaks more English - and we understood that the catalytic convertor - whatever that might be! - also needed changing. Our ordinary mechanic (who does all the main servicing, but can't do exhausts or tyres) had warned Richard that this would need changing before long so he wasn't too surprised, but of course it meant rather a longer job than just mending or changing the exhaust. It was also rather more expensive!
Unlike most of Europe, where exhaust service places have in stock the parts for a variety of cars, they build them from scratch here. So it took about an hour of welding and adjusting before it was all ready. We went over to Orphanides, the big supermarket which has clothes and house/garden items upstairs, and had a wander round. We did think about buying our weekly groceries there but we don't really like Orphanides - it's too crowded and the lights hurt my eyes. We also don't know our way around very well. So we just looked at some clothes and electrical appliances, then sat at the café and had a drink.
Eventually the car was fixed and we were given a year's guarantee. But it was past noon by the time we got to our friendly local Metro supermarket, and we were both extremely hungry and tired by the time we finally got home.