Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Long Night: Part 4

Sorry for the lateness of this post, but I’ve been spending lots of time dealing with the aftermath of our car troubles.

But to finish our long night journey back through Oman…

After at long last getting through the Oman-UAE border crossing, the clock hit 9 pm. I figured, at our puffy rate, we could be home by 3 am. This part of the trip is supposed to take on 2-2.5 hours, so I thought almost tripling that would be generous.

The roads were deserted and it was dark, which provided a handy cover for our smoking car. At an agonizingly slow 35-45 kilometers an hour, the longest stretches seemed positively indefinite. At about 1 am, it started to rain. It came down in torrents. The wind was heavy and the few other cars that were still on the road pulled off. We kept going, desperately wanting to make it home. The fatigue, the trials of the day, the mountain roads, and now the monsoon lightening storm that ripped violently through the night sky, made us feel like the hero and heroine in an epic film of man vs. nature, man vs. man, and man vs. self battles all wrapped into one.

The rain didn’t stop, not for hours. Unfortunately, our car’s problem involved consuming massive amounts of engine oil, without which it can’t run. This meant that every 20 kilometers or so, we had to do something of a Chinese fire drill routine—George running up front to pop the hood, me running to the back to grab the oil container, George unscrewing, me pouring, George hoping back in to re-start the car…. I think after about the 10th time, we had it down to a well-oiled system, the whole thing done in 15 seconds. I felt like I was in the Marines. Performing extreme fatigue team-building exercises in the wee hours of the morning in tropically monstrous weather.

We plugged on. Desperate to get home, but knowing that no way in hell would we make it to work in a few hours. George, the only one with an Omani license did all the driving. I did my part by babbling on about anything and even occasionally biting his hand to keep him awake. Twice we stopped and snoozed for 20 minutes, too tired to go on safely.

Finally, at 5 am, a mere hour and a half from home, we could not continue. In addition to being exhausted, the sun was up now and there was too much traffic to take our car on the two lane highway the rest of the way home. We parked in the most private spot we could find, in front of a grocery store yet to open, and slept deeply until 6, when our office mate graciously swung by to take us home.

Being home was bliss. Our car was broken, our boss was peeved, we were deeply tired, but we were home, and we were together.

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