Esmeralda my new green gem

After being in LA for a month, I have finally bought a car.

Me and Esmeralda: the beginning of a great friendship

I won’t lie and say it’s been easy because being in LA without a car is tough. I was feeling hamstrung and completely dependent on my friends who had to go out of their way to take me places. But when I woke up today, I had a feeling that it would be all okay because I had come to a resolution in my head. If I didn’t get a car, I was going to hire one for a week.

Initially I was quite hesitant about driving on the opposite side of the road, however as the days and weeks passed I became a lot more confident and just wanted to get back behind the wheel again. It’s helpful that there is always traffic in LA and also the yellow lines painted down the road are a godsend for staying on the right side of the road.

I can’t even begin to imagine how much time I spent on Autotraders and websites, trawling through car after car, trying to find a good car in my price range of $5000. Disappointed by the lack of vehicles, I even moved my budget up a thousand dollars, but still it was tricky to find something that I felt comfortable with. In the beginning I was looking for an SUV and had my heart set on a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Then when Gin and J got Brandon, I thought I could probably get away with having a smaller sedan that would a) fit into the second space for a compact car at our apartment b) be easier to park in general and c) would be more fuel efficient. Brandon’s big Jeep interior and roofracks could handle anything big and bulky that we would be transporting, so something smaller in the family would be fine.

I moved on to looking at Volkswagens. Mainly Passats and Jettas. I test drove a dodgy, smokey Jetta that a dealer wanted $6500 for. Then I test drove a private sale Passat which I made an offer on subject to it passing a mechanics inspection to my liking. That car didn’t even make it to the mechanic I had selected before it had an engine problem. So I dodged a bullet there. I also found out during my research that there are a number of engine problems with the Passat, for which a class action had been taken against Volkswagen for an oil sludge problem.

Disheartened, I finally did a search on Autotrader for any kind of car. I was that desperate. It threw up a few Volvos and on closer look and internet research, they looked to be a good car. So I called Good Vibes car dealer in North Hollywood this morning to see if the green 2000 Volvo s40 was still on their lot, as I’ve gone to a car yard before only to find the car I wanted to look at had been sold already, so it’s always good to call ahead.

J drove me in Brandon to the dealer and we had a good look at the green Volvo before going to see Steve the salesman. Steve was lovely and let us have a play in the car, checking how things worked, opening and shutting the sunroof, pulling down the split fold rear seats to see how flat they lay, getting in the front and then the back to check comfort levels, and wowing over the seatbelt for groceries in the boot. We then asked to go for a drive and after a Castle moment, the cars being detailed in the yard were moved to get the little green Volvo on the road.

The car was very comfortable to sit in. It felt really solid and safe on the road and it just felt good in general. Feeling rather excited, I decided that I wanted to buy it. We checked all the electrics again and found that the right brake and indicator bulbs had gone, so they were replaced for me without any hassle. I then let J go home while I spent a couple of hours filling in paperwork and organising insurance, chatting to Steve about how he loves the film Muriel’s Wedding, getting the skinny on all the paperwork and learning some new road rules.

Finally, after handing over a big wad of cash (predominantly $20 notes) and swiping my debit card for the remainder of the cost (which came in right on original budget), I got the keys to my new little Volvo. I sat in the driver’s seat and inhaled deeply a few times, holding the steering wheel and wearing a big smile. I adjusted the seat and mirrors, opened the sunroof a little and moved out onto the road. I was underway in my very own car, which is one that I would never have bought in Australia.

Getting home after a good run on the Hollywood Freeway, I even managed to ace a reverse park on the hill out in front of our place to cap off an exciting day. 

My new Volvo has been named Esmeralda. It means emerald in Spanish and my little green gem and I are going to be inseparable in LA.


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