Before I get into this letter, I must ask you if you have ever seen a movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito called ‘Twins?’ It is a comedy in which Schwarzenegger seeks out his maternal twin he was separated from at birth, only to find that it is the character played by DeVito. Try to keep that visual in your mind as you read this letter.
Well, she is here. Yes, Miranda has arrived at Sol y Mar, and I am quite chuffed. I had been thinking of Miranda for some time now, and even put quite a bit of effort into finding here. The effort was worth it. I found Miranda on a trip to Barcelona. I had flown over for the express purpose of meeting her and when I did, I was convinced she was the one for me. Oh…sorry, forgot to say this part…Miranda isn't a person.
As you probably have read in previous “Letters from the Village,” when I purchased Amelia, she wasn’t my first choice. But as luck would have it, the car I had been looking at was sold by the time I managed to get my car-purchasing-act-together and sort out the legalities of owning a car in Spain. But Amelia did turn out to be a wonderful purchase, and has given me several years of safe, sound transportation. And in fact, Amelia is still doing well, but we are now slipping deeper into a serious financial crisis almost all over the world. The financial mess has landed solidly in Spain, and I began to ponder how the crisis would impact auto dealers. Well, it has impacted them pretty heavily…which has proved good for a potential buyer.
So I recently began trolling around looking for a fun little car and after locating several of them in on-line auto websites, began developing some mental criteria for a possible purchase. Lo-and-behold, my list of potentials was narrowed down to four and after eliminating one here on the island, I flew over to the mainland to look at the other three. Car 1 was pretty nice, but it looked too much like a posh, up-scale car. I was looking for something that had the appearance and feel of a proper British sports car; two seats, compact, convertible top, manual transmission…but I also wanted to have a car that would not bankrupt me on maintenance or purchase cost – which completely eliminated anything made in Great Britain sadly. Car 2 fit most of the criteria, except it was so old it could have been buried in the Valley of the Kings, and the colour was a bit too flashy for me (actually, the car doors, boot, and rear fenders were all different shades of the same colour which implied it had been shunted several times and re-painted). Not a good purchase for me. Then there was car 3, Miranda. Miranda fit all my criteria. Brilliant condition, low number of kilometres, dead comfortable, and the highlight was that the dealer that had her apparently was suffering from a dire cash flow situation, so they were pretty desperate to improve their financial siutation by selling whatever they had in inventory.
It was pretty clear of how much they wanted to sell, because they actually brought Miranda to the hotel instead of me going to their facility. I sat in the car; I looked in the boot (terribly British as it was only big enough for a couple of servings of fish and chips; I looked under the bonnet (not exactly British as there weren’t several side-draft carburettors leaking petrol all over the place); checked the paint (just the few and almost mandatory dings for a car in Spain); and then began the time-tested bargaining process. I won.
Now your mind might be pondering two questions: 1) If he bought the car on the mainland, how did he get it back to the island of Mallorca? 2) What is the deal with the name Miranda? Okay, fair questions.
Miranda came home on an overnight ferry from Barcelona to Mallorca. The ferry ride is another whole story that I won’t bother you with, other than to say that the Iscomar Barcelona-Palma ferry is not exactly the QE2. Out of 800 potential passengers, there were only 83, so there was tons of space, but most of the eighty were drivers of the many lorries that make the transit daily and the communal spaces did have this feel of a Teamsters union meeting. The way the loading process worked was ‘interesting’ at best. Everyone drove their cars up this massive 45-degree bumpy rubber coated ramp onto the top deck of the ship…and were told to park them there. On the deck, in the open, exposed to the elements. Bastards. So whilst Miranda was still there upon the ship’s arrival in Mallorca, she (as well as all the other cars parked on the deck) had become covered in salt spray. Nice and sparkly in the sunlight when it dried, but as it is not a good thing to have a car covered in salt, I had to wash her when I was back home.
The name thing. Right. When asked why I have named my cars, my reply is usually something like, ‘why not?’ And when asked why the name Miranda, my response has been, ‘well, look at her. See? She is sleek, with a dash of excitement about her, veiled in a bit of exotic intrigue, and oozing a sense of fun…clearly, she is Miranda.’ Enough said.
So to recap, I have managed to survive the rather convoluted (and disgustingly bureaucratic) driver’s permit process; I pay taxes here on the island; and now I have managed to find Amelia’s twin, in a sort of Schwarzenegger and DeVito cinematic sort of way. Things are well in hand here on the island.
the context for this letter
oops, wrong Miranda
yes, this is my Miranda
how you get from the mainland to the island with a car
copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, James B. Rieley