45 Things I Learned... 34

Friday, February 17, 2023

I must have been 11. Riding back home on the school bus, we always passed by a luxury car dealership that displayed interesting cars in its all-glass showroom. One afternoon, that elegant BMW caught my eye. I would watch it every day from then on. It was black and had nothing extravagant to it. But its shape spoke to me. And my oldest brother, who is a car genius, told me all about it. "That's an E30", he said. "It's a sports car. They call it the wolf in a sheep's skin". That vehicle was so sexy, I sometimes even dreamt of it! And I promised myself that I would buy myself one when I grew older... It was actually the first car I bought with my money 😁 It was still in mint condition and just turning the engine on, my adrenaline level would rise. I was told many times that such a ride is not a woman's spin. I hated those misogynistic comments and just smirked. Because whenever a guy would think he could outmaneuver me on the road, he'd be in for a big disappointment. Dad had been a thorough teacher of car mechanics with me before he taught me how to drive. And when I finally had this gorgeous, and powerful, automobile, I road-tripped all over Lebanon. Its handling in our, more often than not, terrible ways was stable and smooth. I just loved watching the scenery unfurl while listening to loud driving music and having the wind tousle my hair through the sunroof. I once discovered that I could drive through the mountains all the way from the Metn District to the North of Lebanon. And that was simply awesome, to wander on winding paths, sometimes made of gravel or dirt rather than paved lanes...

Fast forward to the spring of 2019. I am in Brazil and since I don't like to over plan my trips, I couldn't find affordable inland flights. Some even would cost more than my international journey to another continent 🤷🏻‍♀️ I resorted to renting a car, and headed from São Vicente to Foz de Iguaçu. It was a 1200 km route, through cities like Curitiba, where I wanted to make a stop and enjoy a hearty meal and drinks at the Hard Rock Café. And also visit the Oscar Niemeyer (eye) Museum. Unfortunately, in Brazil, most highways and main routes have a speed limit that varies between 60 and 120 km/h. That's great when you are not pressed with time and want to make stops along the way. But when you are like me, impatient by nature, and you don't like to be bound by limitations, you want to enjoy the power of the car you are driving every now and then. True, the rental was not a sports car. And I was accompanied by my best friend's daughter Sophie who was not 16 yet. I hence had to drive responsibly. And I only got ... 2 speeding tickets, one of which was utterly unjustified as the speed sign was hidden by tree branches! But 4 years later, that epic road trip, of which the return was done in about 17 or 18 hours of non-stop driving, is still vivid in our minds with the laughs, the music, and the discoveries. On the way to Foz, we stopped to take pictures of the landscape, we took our time for food stops and checked souvenir shops. We stayed in Foz for a couple of nights to make sure we did the necessary sightseeing. On the way back to São Vicente, I had one major goal: reach our destination as soon as possible, because I wanted to celebrate the Orthodox Easter with my best friend in her home. We had departed before 4 am at the crack of dawn. The sight and the colors, while the sun was rising, were mesmerizing. We were almost the only vehicle on the roads and when I opened my window a bit, the silence of the waking-up nature commanded deference...

Some quotes about road trips and BMWs:

If you had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse - Henry Ford

If you are on a road trip, you need driving music - Edgar Wright

When you go on a road trip, the trip itself becomes part of the story - Steve Rushin

We at BMW do not build cars as consumer objects, just to drive from A to B. We build mobile works of art - Chris Bangle

The greatest part of a road trip isn't arriving at your destination. It's all the wild stuff that happens along the way - Emma Chase

Sometimes the most scenic roads in life are the detours you didn't mean to take - Angela Blount

Some beautiful paths can't be discovered without being lost - Erol Ozan

As a car aficionado, I cannot but relish road trips. Yes, planes are much faster to take us from one location to the other. But when I have the time, it's either a car rental or a train ride. Because trains are also practical to appreciate and observe the surroundings while being comfortably seated. The most convenient means of transport remains the car because you can make the stops you fancy, on your own time. And the beauty of going on a road trip is discovering and exploring...

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