We’ve just breached the thousand mile mark of the trip, and Bani’s hunt for the mysterious Ausfarht has come to a tragic end. Ever since crossing the German border the regular signposts for this mythical place have bamboozled poor Bani, leaving him wondering where the place actually is. Five days of pondering the location of what must be a ginormous place to be so regularly reminded of on 600 miles of German roads has been consistently deceiving him. Having studied maps and road networks for hours in the van to no avail, the increased agitation and confusion of the man I have entrusted with the trips navigation had to be brought to an end. As we left the Black Forest the question of where Ausfarht encompasses popped up again, accompanied with a distinct sense of troubled concern. Still unable to find the hidden location, I had to break it to my friend in the seat beside me that Ausfarht is German for Exit, and not a place.
Besides enjoying Bani’s unawareness of German road signs, my time on the road has been divided between crawling through road works and contemplating break downs, interspersed with an occasional drive through heavenly forest tracks. German roads are notorious for their free flowing, fast paced motorways, but so far all it has been is orange cone after orange cone. With the aim of restoring their reputation for smooth, well organised tarmac, it seems that Germany has decided to improve all the roads all at once. If this was back home in Britain, it would be carnage. Queues would rage on for miles as drivers cut in and failed to merge, but in Germany there seems to be an immeasurable level of coherence that just allows traffic to flow seamlessly through the remaining open lane. Slowly dawdling along these works also brings another miraculously rare sight. German roadworks have German road workers who successfully manage to work on German roads. No sitting in vans staring at miles of unlaid road. No heavy machinery left bathing in the sun unmoved and no clusters of bored workmen filling up on crisps around untouched tools. The work is as wonderfully efficient as the queuing cars that bypass it and it nearly makes up for the delay the improvements cause.
All the slow moving traffic along the renovating roads brings the extra stress of the fear of overheating. Air cooled engines such as the one at the back of the van have a tendency to get too hot, especially when the cooling effects are reduced at slower speeds. Even in the current heatwave this problem hasn’t been the main worry and was replaced by the vans new talent of dying at every stop. A traffic light? Dead. A crossing? Dead. A three point turn? Dead x 3. After a few frustrating days of the problem not going away, the time eventually came to try and fix it in a way other than turning it off and on again. A fix as simple as just turning a screw on the carburettor fixed this issue and ever since it’s been plain sailing. Other than Bani’s hunt for Ausfarht.