Well, it was a bit of a tricky trip because we had car trouble. We rented from a tiny agency on our street, but our first car didn’t have working AC, so we took it back (because it was 37 degrees out and we were going to drive for 3 hours) and got another. Boy, would we regret that choice…. It started to give us trouble in the desert, and I was worried we were going to get stuck baking on a dry stretch of road. A lovely family stopped to help, so I drove their car while the dad drove mine for a while to see if he could figure out the problem. You know how it is, when you let perfect strangers from another country drive your wife and child up mountain passes in your car, right? He couldn’t, but it sure made me feel good to think that there are kind and helpful people out there. And also because he told me we were only 15km from a gas station.
At the gas station, they diagnosed our car trouble from my description in french, and then 5 guys climbed into the back seat of our car and hammered and hauled things out for an hour. The price: $15(!), and they gave me the tourist price, for sure. But, 20 minutes down the road, and the accelerator was only working some of the time. We turned off the AC, I put it in neutral on the downside of every hill (tricky when you are driving up into the mountains) and with lots of rests, we limped to a gas station 50km more down the road. After a similar consultation, we got another repair, though this time they drained our fuel, on the theory we had used the wrong one. 1.5 hours, $20. 15 minutes down the road, though, we had the same problem. It took us 8 hours of travel to make it 3 hours down the road.
It was worth it, though, because the city of Le Kef was beautiful, cool, and friendly (I didn’t actually see it, because I had to rest after my driving ordeal, but Rich and the kids said it was good).
The next day, I took the car to the mechanic to get new parts, (parts $55, labour $16), and then we drove to our destination, the ancient city of Dougga.
It was so awesome. But, we had car trouble on the way. Unsurprisingly, we had car trouble on the way home, too, and it turns out it was definitely an electrical problem (Mum, don’t read this part). I had to choose between getting the car to go, or using the headlights. So I drove for an hour, from twilight until well into the dark with no headlights (and in neutral every second I could manage). I just followed a nice slow car and used his headlights, while Zaylie wept with the stress and danger of it all in the back seat. It was a little bit of high-order awfulness, but we made it home, and, by chance, I even happened to have my headlights on when I passed the police checkpoint! It all worked out in the end, so you can laugh about it now if you want. We will be, soon.