I know you are wondering how we got ourselves out of the Texas desert situation , but, when I started this series, I promised to tell you about preparations, so before we get back to the desert, I'll tell you a little more about where we are in terms of preparations.
We've got less than five weeks left before going to Iran. So far, we've gotten our passports, both Iranian passports and American passports. We've got our ru-saries (scarves). We've been purchasing soghati (gifts for relatives & friends) little by little for the last couple of years. I've heard from a friend that one of the most appreciated gifts for the kids is decorated occasion candy.
My friend has told me that she brought back lots of Christmas and Easter candy. Some of the more expensive gifts are Sony Playstation with a few games. Last year Jamsheed filled up a suitcase with makeup. Please feel free to send me soghati suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. It will be much appreciated.
Back to Texas in 1980
We were stranded in the desert with a topless radiator. Our traveling companions, Donna and Khosrow, had passed us long before the radiator incident. We were about 100 miles away from our next meeting place. Here we were – alone – trying to make it to the end of the exit ramp – running out of water to feed our ever-thirsty radiator. We weren't at all sure that we would be able to find help if and when we did manage to exit the highway. We could still see no signs of civilization.
After what seemed like an eternity the car managed to push it's way to the exit. Beyond the exit was nothing – at least not at first glance. A sign on the side of the road announced that there was a town 10 miles away. Just past the road leading to town, there was a structure. At first glance it looked like a deserted warehouse of some sort – a simple structure with a corrugated tin roof and walls with worn paint. A couple of beat-up old cars sat out in the dust in front of the building!
As we approached, we could see that it wasn't deserted at all. In fact, it looked like this might actually be some sort of auto-repair shop. The building was a garage. One of the cars, it's hood still up, came to life as a mechanic was turning the key to test the motor.
I wasn't breathing a sigh of relief yet, though. All the old TV shows and movies about redneck types flashed in front of my eyes. This was January, 1980. Every night of the week they were showing news about the hostages on TV. Every night of the week any American turning on the TV could see guys who looked just like Jamsheed screaming “Marg Bar Amerika!” (death to America) Jamsheed's black curly hair and mustache that were so much a part of my love at first site were now not such desirable features. He was a dead-ringer from every terrorist who's face was ever shown on TV. When we got out of the car and approached one of the mechanics working in the shop, I was sure we were doomed. My heart sank as I noticed the name “Tex” embroidered on the shirt of the guy who seemed to be in charge.
Tex sauntered up to the car with a look of half-amusement half-pity. “Y'all got car problems?” I looked back at the car. I hadn't really noticed before just how pathetic the old car looked. A rusted out old Mustang – packed full with our belongings. Pots and pans, a kettle, a couple of jars that we had been using to replenish the water in the radiator were empty now, but still visible above the boxes. Loose clothing and blankets that we had used to steady the pots full of water were now strew loosely around on the back seat. Pishi was still perched above it all sleeping on the back window ledge.
Jamsheed opened the hood of the car and showed Tex the radiator. The look on Tex's face turned into genuine concern. He could see immediately that the top of the radiator was no longer attached. He glanced over at the freeway exit and back at the car. I could almost hear him wondering how the car ever managed to make it from there to here. “Well, you know, we aren't really set up to replace radiators here,” he said looking down at the engine and shaking his head sadly.
Jamsheed spoke. “Well, we really can't afford to replace it now. But, is there any way we might be able to – Oh, I don't know – weld it back together?”
Tex just kept shaking his head. “I'll tell you what. If y'all can remove the radiator from the car, I'll see what I can do about soldering the top back on. But, I can't guarantee that this'll work.”
Jamsheed's next concern was cost. To say we had very little money would be an understatement. We had carefully budgeted our money for gas and food. Jamsheed was planning to borrow enough to from his uncle to help us get settled while we looked for jobs near the new school. But, his uncle's house was still over 100 miles away. We really didn't have room in the budget for “new radiator for old Mustang”. “How much will it cost?” Jamsheed said, sounding concerned.
Tex replied, “Well, I don't even know if this is going to work. Well let's see – I guess the solder costs about five dollars. Five dollars okay with ya'll?”
My image of guys named Tex as rednecks instantly vanished. This was charity – plain and simple. Even in 1980, there wasn't whole lot you could do with five bucks, especially when it came to cars. Tex gave us some tools, and Jamsheed and I worked together to move the radiator from the front of the car. Tex soldered the top of the radiator on. He even poured in a little stop leak for free.
Within an hour, we were on our way again. We stopped at the next rest stop and noticed that there were still a few visible leaks. Jamsheed stopped up the leaks with chewing gum and some Band-Aids we had in the car. We still had to fill the radiator with water every so often. But, now it was every 20 miles or so rather than every 200 yards or so.
Now – Back to the important stuff: My reason for not going to Iran then was not the fact that we busy driving around Texas in a car held together with chewing gum and Band-Aids. After all, I was learning a lot of Persian by this time. At that time what more would I have needed besides the very useful phrase – “Marg Bar Amerika”? The only real reason there could have been was that I didn't have a decent computer for the trip. But, I'll tell you about that later.