‘I think you should come have a look on Saturday.’ He said on the phone a few days ago. Apparently, the friendly round faced mechanic who has been working underneath the bus for a couple of days now, kept bumping into more rust than he had expected. So, he needed our opinion on how we wanted to proceed.

Together with our Skilled Nomad, Maarten, we drove to the garage in Hoogerheide and went into the pit underneath the bus to take a look and get a second opinion. Have you ever walked underneath a 12m long school bus? I hadn’t. Well yes, I did lay underneath the bus with a headlamp and my big pregnant belly last summer to look for space for the water tanks but to see the whole bodywork in detail was quite overwhelming.

‘Rust really? Where?’ is what I thought.

 

Under the bus

 

A year ago, when we found the bus on Ebay, we truly believed Jason, the Ebay salesman, who was very confident of the condition of the bus and convinced us that there was not much rust at all. I can’t really believe he deliberately lied to us and in his mind, he didn’t even have to; to US standards this is not much rust, to Dutch standards however, where not more than 20% of the metal can be turned into rust in order to get trough inspection he would definitely be lying. You really had to look closely and high up with a torch to spot anything, but there it was, hidden between the huge pieces of metal, which to me are all the same, you saw what he meant; the copper colored stuff, still stuck in my memory as the never ending parasite covering the floor of the bus, that dirty brown color streaming down Tim’s face in the shower when he spend his days trying to grind that stuff away on the inside of the bus.

That was almost a year ago and so much has happened in the past year, that I couldn’t let negativity slip into my mind when the mechanic told me this was going to take at least another month and would cost somewhere in between five to ten thousand euro to fix. Mainly in man hours, because it is all about getting the rust away in the most gnarly places. When I was thinking about whether or not we needed to stop this beautiful project, stay patient and pump more money into it, not for a second I doubted what was closest to my heart. My mind is not created to host mister negativity.

Even if I was able to let the negativity get the best of me, I still wouldn’t have given up, because this project isn’t just about the end goal. It’s not about that moment I always envision when I think about the bus in the Alps, a bus full of stoked riders chasing pow. It has always been about the road that has led us up to this point; my memory is overflowing with positive moments building this thing, from all the work-awayers we have gotten to know to walking into the bus with a one-day-old baby and lighting the wood stove for the first time. We’ve made it to this point in the story. I’m not ready to give up.

‘Just do what has to be done. At least the main frame of the bus is strong and safe enough. We’ll try to find some extra hands to get rid of the rust. We need to get this bus, our dear Big Bertha, through inspection. As long as we’re on the road before the next winter starts it’s all good’. Is what we told the mechanic at the end of our visit on Saturday.

So peeps, to make a long story short, this is what’s happening:

We’re staying in Belgium just a little bit longer. It might even be till the end of October. In any case, we’ll put all of our energy into the bus but and at the same time enjoy the amazing things we’ll miss when we’re in the Alps: family, friends, Belgian beer, Stoofvlees and all the rest what this amazing and oh so flat country has to offer. Everything always happens for a reason and although at the moment we do feel a bit shitty towards people who already bought a trip during the crowdfunding last year and to our sponsors who have been with us from the start, we are absolutely positive this will happen. Don’t stop believing in this crazy dream we have. We certainly haven’t and we’ll do whatever we can to turn on the engine and start driving towards the snowy mountains with a bus full of stoked riders who will have the privilege to enjoy Bertha’s first big adventure!