Sunday, August 01, 2010

A reader asked about Buster, so I decided to respond in a post.

Buster is a 1980-something Volkswagen Camper with 4 wheel drive and a gasoil (diesel) engine. He uses 9-10 liters of fuel for every 100 kilometers, which is pretty good for a heavy van.

Buster came into my life through a former boyfriend, who found the camper, more or less abandoned next to a garage. He arranged purchase and towed him to a garage where he cleaned it up and got it running. When I saw the camper, I named him Buster. That summer we toured Eastern Europe and parts of Russia and I have some great memories of that trip as well as disappointment, as the relationship didn’t survive the trip.

After that I lost track of both the boy and Buster, till the following May, when AM and I were on our way to meet Carole, Tomas and Agatha who was a toddler. Parked in front of a café, was Buster with a for sale sign in the window. As we looked him over a guy came out and asked if we were interested. We feigned interest, asking a few questions, though I almost started crying when I saw the small country flags on the rear quarter window which we added. They are still there, as Tomas kept them and added to them marking their travels.

Over coffee, we told Carole and Tomas about seeing Buster; they looked at each other and asked if I minded if they went and looked at him. AM and I cared for Agatha and hour later, they returned Buster’s new owners, pending an inspection. Carole and Tomas had (still have) a dream of traveling overland from their home in Marseille, across Africa to Cape Town and were actively looking for a Syncro as the transport.

Knowing what this trip would entail, Tomas embarked on rebuilding and strengthening Buster till he’s a buff, rough and tumble truck. He also replaced the interior and the appliances as Buster had an odor problem from sitting out with a broken window for a few years, and the original appliance were worn out. Despite not making the trip across Africa, Buster did transport them on two, month long trips in the Sahara and a trip through Scotland and Ireland.

The arrival of their third child made Buster available as he’s not large enough for a family of five and they gave me first refusal. At first I wasn’t interested, as I didn’t want the cost and hassle of taking care of another vehicle, but AM lobbied that I at least look into it and I did. The price was fair and the trend of Syncro campers is such that it could be an OK investment, especially in this stock market. When AM offered to find and pay for the garage space and kick in some cash, I said yes. The clincher was the mechanical inspection; Tomas insisted that I have one completed, so I found the mechanic who replaced Buster’s motor when Dmitri owned him. The mechanic didn’t remember Buster, till checked his log book, which included some pictures and notes. He took an hour or so to do the inspection and as he handed me the write up, he mentioned that if I decided not to buy the camper, would I tell the owner that there was another interested party. That clinched it.

Finally some surf, not great, but it felt good to be on the water.

Kim

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