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6# A recipe for disaster

Updated: Jul 27, 2021

I had the van, a parking spot and a garage for the conversion work. The purchase left me low on cash so I planned to save on rent by moving in the van in September. I had only 3 weeks left to do the conversion. A difficult task but not impossible… I had a plan.

My most exciting event was coming up: the summer cottage! Every year, my friends and I spend a weekend in a fancy cottage by the lake. The tradition started around a barbecue five years ago. We were planning a boys’ trip when the ladies overheard us and wanted to be part of it. Most of us were single at the time so it didn’t take long to convince us. Many romances were born on that first weekend cottage. Eloise and I was one of them.

I drove to the cottage and introduced the van to the group. They were stoked, shit was getting real. Now we needed a name. The perfect name would bring good fortune and positive vibes. Considering the van would be my only companion for a long time, it had to be female. Due to its generous size, we named it “La Chichona”. La Chichona is Spanish slang for woman with large breasts. We named it la Chichona in the hope she would bring me eeuuuuh…good luck!

Everyone had a great time at the cottage. I asked my friends for help with the build and they all agreed. With 40 pairs of hands it would be child’s play. On Sunday night we all got back to our lives. I was ready and fresh to start the conversion. Only twenty one days left.

The first step was to clean the van and remove the rust, a simple task. I bought the tools at Depot and went down on my knees. I removed most of it but now the inside was filthy with the remains. Scrubbing rust for hours on end makes you grateful for any job that is not scrubbing. My knees ached. The day flew by.

On Tuesday morning, the car did not want to start. I had drained the battery by leaving the radio on all afternoon whrn I was scrubbing…duh! Ibra came to the rescue and boosted me up. Then we went on a mission to change the oil. La Chichona requires a special synthetic oil that few retailers carry. Four shops, twelve liters of oil and 250$ later, she was still dirty.

I finally finished the cleaning on Wednesday and found a professional to cut a hole for the side window. We scheduled the installation the following week. The window would allow light in without having to open the door. That meant I could be anywhere in the city and get shit done, a big milestone.

The rest of the week was hectic. Minor problems took a long time and new problems kept surfacing. The good vibes from the cottage wore off quickly and my frustration grew with every new issue. We replaced the brakes, the battery, the expansion tank, and even sealed a leak on the roof. There was no end to it.

Everything that was supposed to be easy was not. Ibra was bearing with my distress and growing impatience. Pressured by money and time, I had only fifteen days left. Despite my bitching, he always remained Zen. Not sure if it was the weed or his natural attitude. He just didn’t care.

The week after, things got busy at work. Joining conference calls from the van and talking through a dust mask to hide background noise became second nature. I was out of cash and soon to be homeless. Anxiety reached new peaks. My only relief would come from installing the window on Friday. It would allow me longer work days, to save time on commuting and catch up on the conversion... Ten days left.

The rain was pouring on Friday morning. My umbrella got destroyed by a gust on the way. I climbed in the driver’s seat soaking wet yet hopeful. La Chichona was about to get a boob job. I dried myself, took out my wet clothes and put the key in…nothing. The car would not start. I sat in silence. Water was dropping on my head. Helpless, I started laughing.

There is a Moroccan saying that goes worrying too much will make you laugh. Nothing went according to plan. I could neither fix nor make progress. My control-freak side must learn to let go. I faced my desperation with a smile. There was nothing else to do.

An imaginary deadline and my unrealistic expectations were building frustration, impatience, disappointment and bad attitude. I thought of Ibra, his perspective on life and his words: “he who hurries through life hurries to his grave”.

I needed a miracle. There was no way I could move in by September.


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