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a hot drive to belgium
By Dennis Batchelder 2 August 1999

hey guys:

since we're going to eastern europe (czech republic and poland), we can only rent cheap cars. expensive ones tend to get stolen in the old eastern bloc. so autoeurope told us that we can only rent a manual transmission, with no air conditioning.

we picked up the car at amsterdam airport yesterday, and headed out for belgium. boy, was it hot! the temperature was 33.5 degrees C (that's 92 degrees F), and we had the windows all the way down. unfortunately, there was a lot of traffic leaving the airport, and we were stuck.

so there we were, sweating up a storm. thinking how spoiled we are in america, where we leave our air conditioned houses, jump in our air conditioned cars, and drive to our air conditioned offices. then maybe go to air conditioned malls, or watch movies in air conditioned theatres. 

all we could think about was air conditioning. we were so hot. and thirsty - i guess you sweat a lot more in the heat. so we stopped at a gas station, and bought large drinks, and picked up some sandwiches to eat in the car during the drive.

oh, we were so grumpy! jimmy ate a half of a sandwich that becky wanted to eat, and they started fighting about it. i ran out of cola light, and wanted to stop again. everyone was sweating. pam and becky got headaches. everyone was SO grumpy.

we americans are just too spoiled, i said. we need to get used to this heat - what if the hotel we go to has no air conditioning? but nobody was buying it. we drove on in silence.

8 days in a hot car, driving 1900 miles through 6-8 countries! what are we thinking about, anyway? prague no longer sounded fun, and we were seriously considering renting a new car.

i decided that we needed some music, and i looked at the radio buttons, and i noticed a button with a snow flake on it. i press it, and a light comes on. and COLD AIR starts coming out from the vents.

oh, the joy of it! we went from hopelessness to pure ecstasy! we rolled up the windows, cranked the a/c as high as it would go. we couldn't wipe the smiles off of our faces! it was so cold, that we were shivering - but it felt SO GOOD!

it's amazing how quickly our moods changed. we finished the trip happy. becky forgave jimmy for eating her sandwich. the girls' headaches disappeared. even driving through the tiny streets of brugge, looking for our hotel, wasn't so bad. because what was lost, was found.

we are staying two days in brugge, and then driving to germany by way of luxembourg and france. we'll write more soon..

keep cool

a hot drive to belgium - belgium