For the last ten days, I have been busy nearly every day trying to get my eighteen year old car back into working order and ready to use again. After seeing off the work crew, I took it immediately into the shop. The first problem was a slow leak in the cooling system. That problem turned out to be a thermostat housing that had cracked. But they could not find the part and for several days it looked like the best they could do would be to seal it up with silicon until I could find a new part in the States.
The second problem was the air conditioner had failed again. Now that would not seem to be a big problem, but driving with windows down in Bogotá is a very dangerous proposition. Muggers run up to stopped cars at traffic lights and rob the driver or steal the car. The second problem with a lack of air conditioning is my sensitivity to the sun after my skin cancer treatment.
The last time the air conditioner was broken and I drove the three hours from Villavicencio to Bogotá, my arm was literally blistered from the bad sun burn. So I need to have the window up so the plastic UV film can protect me from the sun. But they could not get a part for the air conditioner and they were not licensed to work on the old Freon systems, which have been discontinued for more than ten years now.
Finally the shop found the thermostat housing and fixed that. Then it was off to a small sidewalk mechanic’s shop to see if he could fix the air conditioner. In a fortunate stroke of God’s provision, I accidentally stumbled on to a guy who had both the part I needed and could work (maybe not legally) on the Freon system. Within a couple of hours I had the air conditioner working again and I was off. But all of this had taken up a full week of my time.
The next problem was that the insurance company was refusing to renew my policy. They normally drop coverage at fifteen years and my car is now over eighteen years old. Without insurance here even a minor accident can become a major problem as the foreigner is always considered to be at fault. So I need the insurance not only to be responsible, but to protect me from the xenophobia endemic to Colombia. After much protesting and begging, they instructed me to bring the car in for an inspection. It seems they fear that people will buy junkers then have them disappear to collect the insurance. They wanted to make sure my car really was worth insuring.
I got an appointment and took the car in to the inspection and accident appraisal service garage. They took the car into the garage and inspected in inside and out, under the hood and under the chassis. They checked all of the systems and even looked at the brakes and the tires. Since I maintain the car well and have never had any wreck with it, the car is still in very good shape. The assessors told me they would recommend my policy for renewal, but the final decision would be up to the company. After waiting several more days, I received a call informing me that they would renew the policy.
By now the second week had passed. So for more than twelve days of constant work, I had the car back into condition to drive and with all of the needed paperwork in order. It had been a two week travail, but I have my car back in order and so now can get back to traveling and visiting the churches and getting done the work that I am here to do!