Road stuck- The joy is in the journey
Has your car broken? Did it happen on holiday? Those
who answered no to this won’t know how it feels, but
for those answered yes, I can challenge you it gets
worse. Has your car broken down on holiday on a
single road with minimal buildings and infrastructure?
It gets worse. Was it your first time driving in a
different country? Even worse. Was it snowing to
the point that you couldn’t see more than a hundred
metres, and the roads fully iced? The worst. Did your
phone stop working just when you needed it?
If you answered yes to all of the above then I feel sorry
for you, and to those who didn’t, you missed out on a
VERY unique experience.
This is a short recall of that VERY memorable drive.
We chose to go to Iceland for a short holiday, in the
middle of February, in the snow, and ice. Even though
I liked the cold, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to
it, I hadn’t got into the holiday mood. Although, I must
admit that as the trip got closer I was warming up to
the idea that i will finally do some adventure sports
in the snow, photograph white landscapes, maybe a
volcano if we feel brave. But most of all I wanted to
see the northern lights.
We had decided to rent a car for a day so that we can
explore on our own during the day time when we didn’t
have anything planned. We(dad) picked up the car the
morning after we got there so we had the whole day to
roam. Our plan was to go to a geothermal bath a little
outside Reykjavik. So we set off in the car, admiring the
neutral beauty and taking photo stops along the way,
little did we know that it was soon about to change.
As we reached the outskirts of Reykjavik, dad realised
that the fuel in our car was in fact low, but even still,
we didn’t panic since we are used to seeing a petrol
station every 20-30 miles here in the UK. Soon after
that, the red light started flashing on the dashboard,
this was clearly a sign that we need to look for
fuel ASAP. The irony was that the very roads and
landscapes we were admiring 10 minutes ago had
now started to worry us since it was snowing quite
heavily, enough to block our sight after a few hundred
metres of road, with no building or even infrastructure
around to mentally comfort us, so we decided to stop
in case we get too far from Reykjavik.
Meanwhile, our mom was not taking lightly to the
entire situation due to the fact that that there were
very few cars on the road and this was the first time
my dad was driving a car with left hand drive(at least
with us). And to top things off, both our working
phones didn’t have signal.
To summarise, a hired car, low on fuel on a road with
very limited visibility, snow like nothing we had ever
seen in lives, first time drivers, and no cellular network.
The only relief we had was that our car was 4 wheel
drive, so we could drive safely in the ice, and we could
ask for help from the few passing cars.
As we were getting nowhere with the situation, we
decided to drive on towards what our phones finally
told us to be an information centre. Once we got there
we asked the staff the whereabouts of a petrol station,
but to our continuing misfortune, the nearest one
was about 30 minutes away, near our final destination
of the geothermal bath. It was a risk that none of us
were willing to take considering that we had already
driven about 30 extra minutes with the warning light
on, and from that point we probably would have taken
a lift or contacted the emergency services if it wasn’t
for a kind driver, who was himself with a big group in
a minibus. He offered to escort our car to the petrol
station enroute to his destination, and if our fuel ran
out, he would give us a lift.
However, things only got worse from there, the
weather got even worse as the roads more icy than
we had ever seen. The icing on the cake was that
the driver, being a local, kept signalling my dad to
overtake slower cars, with there being only one lane
and oncoming cars, vans and even trucks. As every
minute passed all of us were sceptical about the fuel
being enough, we were all questioning the decision
to listen to that kind yet unknown local who was
trailing us. This all happened in our minds, while we
tried to keep calm and composed on the outside,
even crack a joke or two.
This tension grew for about 35 minutes, after which
we finally had a sight for sore eyes, we had seen the
petrol station in the distance, small but standing in all
its glory. The minibus drove past us while we smiled
the the passengers and waved the driver thank you.
In the end, we had gotten through just over 90 minutes
of driving, about 60 of which was under stress, along
with 30 minutes of stops.
About 20 minutes after getting fuel, we were sitting in
the geothermal bath, with snow gently falling on our
heads, merely absorbing what had just happened with
us, and even laughing out of relief.
They say that the joy is in the journey. I didn’t believe
I this quote very much before, but after this incident
I truly do, and will hope life takes me on many such
journeys, however unique they may be.