It was a good decision not to have contacted the RAC to tell them that we were ‘fixed’ and back ‘On The Road’, after thinking we were fixed in Morocco and then breaking down 68 miles up the road, I had decided to wait to make sure everything was as it should be, but it obviously wasn’t !! I had tried to ring the garage but they had already gone on ‘Siesta’ so that was that for two hours. I made the call to the RAC Breakdown once again and explained what had happened. I told them that the engine would still ‘tick over‘ so I could be towed rather than them getting out ‘Monster Truck‘ again, they said that they would pass that information on to their Spanish counterparts. Shortly afterwards I received a text message informing me that a recovery truck would be with me within an hour. I didn’t know how much more I was going to be able to take of this, I can ‘generally‘ just get on and deal with things but this had now been six days from when it had all started, having to deal with it ourselves whilst in Morocco the best we could, then the stress and worry of whether we would get to the ferry port, and now this ! It just seemed to be one thing after another. The stress, worry, tiredness and frustration was now beginning to take its toll on the ‘both’ of us, but I could now begin to feel ‘anger‘ building inside of me as well, that was not a good thing because, whilst I have a great deal of patience once I reach my endurance limitation then I would just blow, but I knew that if I started to get annoyed and shout, it would do more harm than good in our current situation. Of course my other concern was that the cost of repairs was already running at £1,582 (Morocco & Spain) and, if the problem was faulty fuel Injectors, how much more was this going to cost and how much longer were we going to be stuck waiting for them to be ordered, received and installed ? The other bit of annoyance was with myself, if I hadn’t of rushed them to get it ready to go before their ‘Siesta‘ they would have probably ‘road tested‘ it themselves and then when it broke down they would have had to recover it themselves !! We tried to console ourselves by admiring our view whilst trying to ignore the buffeting from the slip streams of the passing traffic, hurtling past us at breakneck speeds.
The allotted time for our ‘recovery’ came and went, we gave it another half an hour and then re-phoned the RAC again, they told us that they would again contact their Spanish colleagues to get an update. A number of ‘Assistancia‘ trucks passed us, obviously not looking for us though, and then suddenly, on the opposite carriageway we saw again our ‘Knight in Shining HGV‘, yes it was the same truck and he gave a throaty blast on his horn as he passed to let us know he was coming to our rescue. There were two of them in the truck, it was the same two who had come to our rescue the first time, they smiled sympathetically but then had us ‘loaded’ on the back of ‘Monster Truck’ in no time, Shazza and I were permitted to remain in ‘Big Momma’, high up on the trailer and what fantastic views we had.
They were waiting for us at the garage, the RAC had forewarned them of what had happened and ‘Pepe’, the ‘mechanic’ and the garage owner got ‘Big Momma’ straight back into the garage and on to the diagnostics machine. Now I know that I am not ‘Technically’ or ‘Mechanically’ astute but that doesn’t stop me from thinking about things, things like how an engine works and what it needs to work. Whilst I don’t want to ‘offend’ any mechanics who read my ramblings but it would seem that today’s breed rely on a piece of electronic wizardry to identify the problem, then they are trained to repair that problem. In the ‘Old Days’, you would take your vehicle to a garage, give them the information on what had happened and then they would conduct their own ‘manual diagnostics‘, tinkering with the electrics, or mechanics, until they diagnosed the cause of the problem, then they set about fixing it. On my first visit to this garage I had told them that the ‘Amber‘ engine symbol had lit up followed by the ‘Red‘ oil light with a message that said “Insufficient OIL pressure” but their diagnostics device had only mentioned ‘leaking pressure from one or more fuel injectors‘.
The RAC rang to confirm that we had been ‘recovered‘ and were at the garage. Whilst we had been waiting for the recovery truck we whiled away some of the time reading our ‘Breakdown Cover Policy Booklet‘, we discovered that the RAC would cover the cost of Hotel Accommodation, as well as the cost of a taxi from the garage to the Hotel and back again when the vehicle was repaired. We told them that we could no longer stay in the Motorhome in the workshop due to the practicalities (Toilet & Grey Waste) and they said that they would arrange Hotel Accommodation for us (Which they paid for) and arrange a taxi to collect us (Which they again paid for). I told ‘Pepe’ that the RAC would stay in contact with him but confirmed that he still had my mobile number in case he needed to speak directly with me.
The taxi arrived and whisked us away, if their was one disappointment it was that the Hotel was a taxi ride distance from the town, it wasn’t on a bus route and was too far to walk. However, we arrived at the rather ‘plush‘ looking exclusive Golf Resort of ‘Valle Romano‘. The staff on reception confirmed our booking, Room, Bed & Breakfast and although they didn’t have a Restaurant, hotel guests used the facilities at the ‘Club House’. We had in reality been expecting a very cheap hotel with basic facilities, we wouldn’t have minded as long as it was comfortable and had hot running water. What we didn’t expect was a ‘Studio Apartment’ with a very large balcony with fantastic views.
Now I guess that any sympathy that you may have been feeling for us and our predicament has just rapidly disappeared, but remember that we had not come prepared to live in this kind of luxury, we had just literally thrown a few clothes into an overnight bag, no sunbathing gear to make the most of it, neither did we know just how long we would be here for, perhaps only the one night !!
as I have a few ‘Golfing’ friends, here are some photo’s, taken from the balcony just to whet your Apetite for your ‘Summer Break’ later this year !!
Now of course, had we have known that we were coming here we would have packed our ‘Rupert Bear‘ chequered pantaloons, our ‘Cashmere‘ sweaters, Flat Caps and our ‘Bag of Sticks‘ but as we hadn’t then “We definitely were not playing around !!” But we did make use of the ‘19th Hole‘ !!
We spent a second day and night in the Apartment, however, at just after 7pm, I received a telephone call from ‘Pepe’ telling me that ‘Big Momma’ was fixed, had been ‘road tested’ and would be ready to go at 9:00am in the morning. Although ‘Pepe’ spoke reasonable English he couldn’t explain what the problem had been, I would have to wait until I got to the garage to find this out. I informed the RAC of the phone call and requested them to arrange for a taxi to collect us at 08:30am.
When we arrived at the garage ‘Big Momma’ was still in the workshop and thoughtfully, because I had forgotten to mention it when we left to go to the Hotel, they had plugged in the Electrics so that the food in the Fridge/Freezer would not spoil and have to be disposed of. ‘Pepe’ told me that the problem was that water had also got into the ‘Oil’, they had changed the Oil and Filter and road tested the van for 15km and then ran diagnostics again, he assured me that everything was now okay but ‘his‘ boss had insisted that before taking the vehicle away he wanted me to ‘road test‘ it with him sitting alongside. Presumably so that if it did go ‘Pete Tong‘ he could phone his own people to recover us, I guess his garage reputation was also at stake here or perhaps he was worried that he would lose the highly valuable ‘FIAT’ approval for his garage if I complained directly to FIAT !! We drove for a good half an hour, uphill, downhill, on dual carriageway, where I could get up speed and overtake, and ‘Big Momma’ responded appropriately, she was back to ‘full health’ !! I was obviously very pleased but there was a nagging frustration that said, ‘if only they had listened to me and checked the Oil the first time around‘. Back at the garage I was relieved of a further €350 which brought the total cost of the repairs, including those undertaken in Morocco, to a whopping £1,582.13 !!
We drove away and I think we could both be forgiven for still being a little apprehensive, we had driven 68 miles in Morocco before it broke down again, so I wasn’t going to relax until we had driven much further !! You may recall than on our way down to Algeciras on our way to the ferry, we needed to top up with LPG but couldn’t find the service station on the co-ordinates that we had. Whilst over in Agadir we met another ‘British’ Motorhomer who confirmed that there was a ‘Repsol’ service station at ‘Los Barrios’ that did have ‘Auto Gas’ and he had given us the correct co-ordinates. So that was our first stop, it was only 38 miles from Estepona and we found the service station very easily, we were quite surprised to find that we still hadn’t used even one of our two bottles and only needed 16 Litres. fortunately the LPG pump was at the same place as the ‘Fuel’ pumps so we topped up with Diesel as well. For those that do the price comparison thing we paid €0.59 litre (£0.48p) for the LPG and €1.13 litre (£0.92p) for the Diesel.
‘Big Momma’ had performed superbly during this shortish journey but we were not allowing ourselves to relax just yet. Our next destination was a further 60 miles drive and this would test the van as their were plenty of nice long stretches on this lovely surfaced Dual-Carriageway, with lots of steep uphill ascents. We were headed for the Campsite at ‘Conil de la Frontera’, on the West Coast of Spain just South of Cadiz, this was the one we had originally planned to come to, so that we could clean out the ‘Fresh and Waste Water Tanks’, and the pipe work and taps, after the Moroccan trip.