130 Kilometers an Hour in the Wrong Lane


 

[Photo] Traveler Taj Terpening

Then the front of the car went airborne before plunging into the second, even larger hole. The car stopped but began shaking so violently the CD stopped, the windshield wipers turned on and our vision blurred. Cass switched off the ignition and we sat silently for a moment, reveling in our aliveness. All that was necessary to identify the source of the shaking was to open the hood. The tiny engine had three major bolts attaching it to the car in a tripod configuration. One of them was broken so when the car was running the engine twisted back and forth like a swinging hammock. Too hilarious to not share with everyone, Cass called his friends who had stayed home that day. While I dwelled on the long-term ramifications of wrecking a rental car, Cass and the others stood around the car barely able to speak between fits of laughter.

"Hey Cass, you're proper fucked now mate!"

"Yea but it was worth it. Besides, Traveler has something to write home about now."

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"Hey, what do you recon the breaking strength is of an R-29 bolt, eh?"

"I don't know mate, that hole was horrific though!"

But like the end of any great trip, we had mangled fingers, forearms too pumped to brush our teeth at night, a wrecked car and still enough psych to get up another climb. Leaving the car "parked" where it was, we decided we would contemplate our situation while climbing a famous sea cliff route we'd been eyeing in the guidebook that happened to be just down from our perch on the cliff. The route, Via Missing Link (5.10d) was a spectacular and scary-looking 90-degree arete rising 160 feet straight out of the ocean.

The approach involved gearing up on a beach, then traversing horizontally for 90 feet with the sea soaking your shoes. Once at the arete, the belayer has to hold his legs up to keep from getting wet while he yells at the leader to climb faster. Anything less than a tight belay around the first and second bolts would mean a dip in the ocean, were the leader to fall. Cool as the character in Cass's TV show, I ascended the arete while Cass yelled for me to hurry. After dealing with sadistic airlines, a week in a cave with a family of rodents, eating ninety-eight oranges in six days, a month of feeling like my death was just around every curve in the road with Cass at the wheel and being in a car wreck, this climb was cake.

Back at the car, the solution to our problem soon presented itself in the form of a 2-meter length of purple webbing. I took a few turns around the engine, then tied it to the underside of the hood. When we fired the engine, the ride was smooth and quiet.

Two days later Cass and I screeched to a halt in front of the rental car agency at the Alicante airport. With the music still blaring and the car beginning to shake again, Cass threw the keys to the attendant, and we each strode off in different directions, yelling goodbyes to each other as we went. After doing some loops around the airport to throw off any rental car agents who may have been looking for him, he boarded a flight back to Newcastle. After my own defensive maneuvers I once again found myself in front of the Alicante airport trolling for a partner.

A week later I got a text message from Cass: "After I took off I used the in-flight phone to cancel the credit card I rented the car with. Ha! We win again!"

Please check out more of Traveler's work at www.travelerphotography.com, and feel free to give him a shout if you want to know more about La Costa Blanca, El Chorro or his photography.

[Photo] Traveler Taj Terpening

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