The plague in Prague.

On Tuesday, May 13th, I woke up late. Slowly packed all my stuff. I wrote down the address and how to get there. I didn’t want any kind of problems.

Made coffee, ate my sandwich and made some more for the trip. Everything was going according to the script.

I took my stuff and left with plenty of time to arrive in Prague, around 8pm, as we have arranged.

On the street where Lubenica is parked I saw two small jeeps I thought they looked familiar to me. First I thought they were the DWV Candango, quite popular in Brazil in the 1960’s, but after I was told they were a VW military jeep nicknamed “The Thing”. Even though, they are not common, so if finding one is a rare thing, to find two is even harder.

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I put my things in the car and, once more without the help of my GPS, I take the car and try to follow the instructions I saw the day before in internet. And everything goes out quite fine. I refuel the car before leave Berlin and soon I’m already on the road.

The road is great, but the weather is awful. It rains all the time and sometimes it was so heavy that I could barely see the car in front of me. The heat is on to avoid a steamy window and I slow down and stay behind a truck, with a safe space between us.

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When the weather seemed to get better, I felt the rotations of the engine were lower than usual for the speed I was. Usually at 100 km/h, the engine was at 4000rpm and now was at less than 3500rpm. Also the window wiper was slower.

I stop at a parking place on the road. I turn off the car and check the lights. They seem to be ok. But when I try to turn on the car I have nothing. The battery had completely discharged.

I ask people for the cable to help me out turning the car on again. The first few didn’t have and after 10 minutes without any help, I try to push the car myself to try to kickstart it. I couln’t gain speed enough to do it, mostly because the car is heavy and the parking lot was on a small hill. I fail. A guy comes to help me, but just to put the car back to the parking spot.

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(These pictures say it all)

Then parks a guy near me and I tell him my story. He didn’t speak English and I don’t speak German, but mimes are a universal language and he could understand what I needed. He had the cable and helped me to turn on the car.

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On the road I notice my battery still doesn’t recharges. The lights are weak and I start to worry if the Police could stop me for that.

At the border, I have to stop to buy the vignette stickers. When I stop I let the car die and I feel like the worst driver ever. Like an Andrea De Cesaris.

I bought the ticket and went to find someone else to help. I ask a man who was driving an old Twingo and he, in English, told me he knows he has it, but had to find it. And his car was a mess inside. After five minutes searching, he found it and we turned on the car again. I swear to myself that I would take Lubenica to Prague, no matter what.

I had to pray for the rain to leave me alone, because the car was completely out of battery. I had no lights, no turn signs, no wipers or anything. It was quite dangerous, I know, but I couldn’t stay a day alone on the road.

The GPS Works again in Czech Republic, mas I can’t find the address. I stop on a gas station, and this time without letting it de, and I had to search for the address on the map, so then my GPS could calculate the route. I found out that I had already missed the entrance and the car was running out of fuel. It was later than 20h and it was almost dark.

I had to go without lights and the turn signs were working sometimes only. But I got there anyway. I park the car wherever I could and I left it there until I could find a solution for it. I went to the building and met with Anezka.

Anezka is a friend of a friend of a friend of mine. Yeah, weird but true. Because of my delays waiting for the car to get ready and the lenses, I arrived four days after the original plan in Prague and the person who would originally host me had to host someone else. Kind of at the last minute I found her and everything was really fine.

While we’re cooking dinner, I turn on the camera and start recording the interview. She was really tired from work and went to bed right after it. On the next day she would work from 8am to 8pm, as it has been all these last days, as she told me.

Before fall asleep, I check in internet and I found out that the place where the car is parked is strictly for residents only. The penalty could be since a clamp on my wheel to even the car being towed away. I panic a lot.

I sleep, but a bad sleep, thinking about how long it would take for my car to be towed and how huge would be the fine to take it back. I woke up and went there, still wearing my pijamas. She was still there. I felt relieved. I come back and have my breakfast searching for some people to help me out in internet.

There are some pages in Facebook related to Ladas and “communist” cars. I knew already the problem should be the alternator, but still, how would I take the car to a mechanic?

On these pages there are some people with czech surnames. I send some messages to them. One answers me, but using a translator. It’s alright, we keep trying to talk. He sends me some adresses of mechanics specialized in Ladas. I ask Anezka to call them for me, but she is really busy at work. I start to feel bad about the whole situation.

I was still without a cento f czech Money, going crazy with the car and in one of the most charming european cities. I decided I should take a walk around the city, without destiny and completely alone.

I walked around for almost four hours through the old town and came back. The car was still there. At the flat I cook something and keep searching someone to help me out with the car.

Anezka comes back at 9 pm and goes straight to bed. She was exhausted. She is a very nice girl and helped me a lot, but unfortunately she couldn’t help me with the car. And I’m still in Facebook and Google searching for help.

Then, about 11pm, a lithuanian friend asks me how I was doing with the trip. I tell him where I am and my situation and he tells me he has a good friend in Prague that maybe can help. He sends me Ondrej’s profile and right away he are chatting. His brother, Prokop, and a friend of him can come the next morning to take me and the car somewhere.

Anxiety wakes me up the next day. I slept a little better, but still had dreams of my car being clamped and taken away, with an outrageously high fee to pay. I go down to check the car even before washing my face and I’m relieved to see my little green eyed love standing there. I open the trunk and I put the triangle above the steeting wheel, showing to anyone that the car was there solely because it’s broken. Who knows? Maybe this way the police would feel pity for me and wouldn’t give me a fine.

Back to the flat, I have breakfast and wait. We decided they would come around half past noon and was still 10am. The previous evening I was searching for accessories for cars and I decided to go there buy the cables to help the cold start. I didn’t know which bus or tram to take, so I went walking. It was 4km to go and plus 4 to come back. I get back at noon, tired and swet. They arrive at 1pm. I go outside to meet them. Prokop, Ondrej’s brother, and Lukas, his friend. We go towards the car.

We manage to gear up the car using the cables. The fuel level was low and we needed to refill it before reach the mechanic. They go ahead of me and I follow them, carefully trying not to let the car engine die.

Inside a tunnel the car started to make some funny noises. Stopped at the traffic light I pulled the lever beneath the steering wheel that helps the car’s engine to keep revving. When the light went green, the car didn’t have enough power to move and the noises got even louder and more explosive. I was petrified. I was lucky that the car could go down the street slowly and I could take it to a safe place, where Prokop could come and rescue me. The car was still running, but had no power. I step heavily on the accelerator pad, put the first gear and the car finnaly ran. Lukas and Prokop took the lead and I kept following them.

A few minutes later, at a big avenue, the car simply stopped running. I put my head out and shout. Prokop, once again, came running for my rescue. I asked him to push the car and for the very first time in my life I kickstarted a car. I was scared but proud of myself.

At the gas station, I refilled the car’s tank and Prokop helped me to pull the car. For the second time I managed to kickstart it and we went to the mechanic.

The mechanic was actually an employee of Lada’s car shop in Prague. The car shop had a 2101 in mint conditions that left me with an open mouth. I almost left Lubenica for her.

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He went to check the car and went straight to the alternator. It was misplaced. He took some old, dirty screws out of the engine and showed it to me. They were too old and simply went off. The alternator was fine, but unplugged and misplaced. He told us to go to an electrician nearby and he would put it back on its place.

Once again we had to restart the car and went to the new place. There he took a look while talking to Lukas about what he was finding out. Lukas told him about my trip. When he told him I’m Brazilian, he couldn’t help but laugh. Then he came to me and shook my hand. Said he envies me and my idea was quite cool. I was happy.

We left the car there and Lukas brought me back to the city center. We decided to meet in the evening for a few beers and to make an interview with him and Prokop. Before get back to the flat, I bought some food and beers. I could finally relax.

I made my dinner, had a shower and uploaded the vídeos and pictures to the computer. Anezka had a date and told me she would be back late, so I didn’t have to tell her I would also go out. I dressed up and left.

At the bar were Lukas, Prokop and Péta. Ondrej was on his way. I turned on the camera and we had a long chat about everything, specially the car and their lives. Péta, however, didn’t want to join and end up recording only the guys. Later on Ondrej arrived and the conversation flowed.

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(Prokop, Ondrej, Lukas, Péta and me)

Before the last subway we all left. Back to the flat, Anezka was about to sleep and I went to do the same right away. The next day would be a long one. Go back to the electrician, take the car and drive it to Brno.

Anezka wakes me up to say goodbye. She was going to work and we wouldn’t see each other anymore. I thank her for the last minute couch she offered me and she leaves. I sleep a bit more, but the sun is shining and it’s impossible to sleep. I go have a shower.

I pack my things and wait for Lukas to call me. Not much later he sends me a whatsapp message telling me the car was ready. I take my stuff and go there by myself. The mechanic isn’t there.

I call Lukas, that calls the mechanins, that tells Lukas, that warns me he would be back soon. While he doesn’t come, I use my spare key to open the car and put my stuff. I turn it on and everything sounds OK. He comes, I pay him, we greet each other and I leave.

The way to Brno wasn’t far, but there was a whole big city to cross until I reach the road.

And I will tell it in the next post.

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