The Great Rental Car Saga

Driving a motorized vehicle beats walking.
Trust me, it does.
Especially, when you happen to be a slightly over middle-age, slightly over-weight, severely vertebrally herniated woman with a bunion.
Especially, when you happen to live in a very hilly neighborhood.
Especially, during ‘Green Season’ downpours.
We do have a neighbor, who jogs into town and back, as well as neighbors, who walk these hills daily, just for the fun of it … more power to them!
I’d stick with a car – if I had a car.
Our dog-friendly, all plastic, no frills, low mileage car with it’s working A/C, windshield wipers and adjustable seats, still has not been handed over to us. Barry shipped it from Florida to Costa Rica on April 11, 2011. By my calculations, we will celebrate our three months transportation limbo on Monday. That is seven weeks longer than the shipper estimated.
We knew an estimate is only an estimate is only an estimate. Therefore Barry made arrangements for a rental car. Since rental companies charge an arm and a leg, or an axle and a tire, we opted for far less expensive private rental. Naturally, you get, what you pay for! And then some.
Our only gently dented vehicle’s driver seat was anchored to the chassis, if only in one single spot. And fortunately, the seat was positioned diagonally to the steering wheel, not backward. One could change the driver seat position relative to the foot pedals, sure. All you would need is a basic set of tools, sturdy gloves, strong muscles and an advanced degree in mechanical engineering. Since neither one of us has any of those, we went the designated driver route, me. Three months of daily monster truck practice gave my lower back, as well as that lovely herniated cervical disc in my neck a much-needed boost. Who wouldn’t want a little numbness in the right arm, as long as it goes with that exciting tingling sensation in the thumb? Besides, I’m left-handed.
The rear hatch in the monster truck opened just fine, thank you. All you had to do was flip over the back bench, slither into the cargo space, pull a switch and kick the door open with both feet. No big deal. The big deal was, to figure out, how to do that fully loaded. Since we mostly failed this Houdini-ish challenge, we had to ask our very patient neighbors, to transport bulkier items for us. We did get to spend an afternoon at the tire place, to have new front tires fitted, even though sliding through our hairpin curves in the rain on those shiny, perfectly smooth treads, was an invigorating thrill, bringing my notoriously low blood pressure up to almost normal. Ditto for the headlight we replaced, no more hide-&-seek with other motorists. I only ruined three or four blouses on the disintegrating seat covers, which behaved like a fabric eating, velcro lined Venus Flytrap. But all this fun came to an abrupt end when it turned out that the car needed to go through state inspection no later than June 30th.
State inspection, I learned, is not to be taken lightly hereabouts. The last digit of your license plate indicates the month, in which your yearly inspection is due. One has 30 days to finish needed repairs, but one is not allowed to actually use the car during this grace period! I was told that traffic police loves to corral offenders and that the fines are considerable. They may even include impounding the vehicle. I had had no idea about any of this and was pretty upset, to say the least. Barry was hospitalized two towns over and I was losing my ride – which suddenly didn’t look so bad anymore, the wheels were turning, right? Oy vey!
After a couple of days, our friends and neighbors down the road came to our rescue. They let me drive their ‘spare’ car, which had just gone through state inspection and was newly fitted with all the necessary parts. What a smooth ride!! Heaven – but it wasn’t meant to be … after only three days of automotive bliss, the heartless, metallic traitor abandoned me on a steep uphill drive in a very hilly part of town called ‘Vista Atenas’. Freshly licensed, it nevertheless died on me. What to do? I rolled back downhill a little way into a driveway and called to report the bad news. The owner of the driveway happened to be at her mailbox, so I explained my situation. She not only assured me, I wasn’t bothering her but offered me a drink of water. And, would you believe it, a few minutes later, she walked all the way back down that long driveway, to invite me up to her house for coffee. This sweet lady is a ceramics artist, painter, and quilter, who lives in a park-like setting with amazing views. She turned an upsetting event into a lovely encounter! And since she also brews a mean cup of coffee, I’ll definitely have to visit again, to thank her for her spontaneous hospitality.
Currently, without transportation, we’re enjoying a quiet afternoon without the ‘pressure’ or urge to have to go somewhere. Very nice, actually. Maybe next week, we’ll get the call of my yearning:

“Your car’s ready!”   

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