Monday, October 6, 2014

More on the car

This car is more needy than a newborn.

When we realized what was missing from the car we immediately sent a confident message to the transportation guy that we were sure the windshield wipers and tire were somewhere and we would be happy to pick them up the next day. Confidence does not always make magic happen. The tire was still there, yes, but nobody knew what happened to the windshield wipers. And of course it rained, but cleared up enough for Terry to drive the car to the embassy the next day (after we corrected our insurance to also cover him. Somehow that never came up when I was dealing with all the paperwork previously. Now that I think about it, I may or may not still owe our shipping guy 2200 tenge - roughly $15 - for that.)

When you put a car on a boat for long distances, you are required to be sure there is no more than 1/4 tank of gas in the car. There are many stories of people aimlessly driving their car for a long period of time in order to get to that point when the transportation folks arrive and discover a fuller-than-allowed gas tank. I have to imagine some car exploded on some cargo ship somewhere in the world and now we have this rule. Anyway, what it means is #1 priority when a car arrives at the other end is to fill the tank.  Unless you don't have a spare tire because the spare is on the car and the busted tire was taken away from the car so a second nail-through-tire mishap would become tragic. In that case priority #1 is to re-obtain the busted tire so there is a rim on which to put a new tire.

I speak Russian, Terry does cars, so we end up having to do a lot of things together that one or the other of us could theoretically handle on our own. One day last week I had enough of a break between meetings, and he had enough free time, that we decided to hold a late "lunch hour" and get some things accomplished. First was finding the busted tire at the embassy motorpool garage. First step: find the garage (10-15 minutes). Second step: let them know we came for the tire  - not as easy as it sounded as the guy we spoke with didn't know about "the tire" so I tried to explain in my level-2 Russian and he definitely came out of it thinking I was asking for one of the embassy's tires because the second guy was surprised when I said "maya shina" - my tire - and he eventually figured out what I wanted and showed me the tire, then made Terry drive into the warehouse to where the tire was to pick it up.  Getting to the gas station that also sold windshield wipers was the easy part of the whole experience, except that our car takes two different sized windshield wipers and one of those sizes was not sold there. We found close enough and the guy pumping our gas helped up get the wipers on with the help of Terry's pocket knife to open that darned clamshell packaging.

Off to the tire store! Except the shopping mall where the tire store was meant to be has  two names and the one we knew wasn't the one proclaimed in big letters on the top of the building so we had to go past, turn around in traffic, and head back.  There was a sign showing that parking could be had in the back so off to the back we went. The biggest tragedy of this story is that we didn't get photos of the abandoned construction site we walked past from the parking lot to the front of the mall. Imagine a half-built building, sitting in at least a half-floor of water like a little pond, and the road that goes along this pond has almost rusting metal bars sticking out every few inches or so into the air above the pond, dissuading anyone from jumping in (not that one would. It also smelled of sewage).  I have never seen anything like this in the middle of such a developed city - as Astana is nothing if not a very developed city.

But I digress.  We go into the mall, find the tire store, and ask for the tires we need. I had called earlier and I knew they had them but there must have been a mis-communication because they now told me they only have winter tires. We have four winter tires on a boat in the Atlantic so we really wanted all season/summer ones. Strike out!

Making the best of the situation, we headed to the grocery store we noticed in the mall. We've been in this chain before, it sells Shop-Rite brand stuff. We grabbed a bunch of things we didn't think existed in Astana and called it a victory.

Part II comes soon .....

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