Wheel be stuck in snow then!
I've said a few times since moving to Bosnia and Herzegovina that I should be keeping a list of 'things I wish I'd paid more attention to in school'. Unsurprisingly, language lessons would be near the top of the list but, perhaps less obviously, vehicle mechanics would be right up there too. I don't remember if the local comprehensive I went to even offered such a GCSE but it would have been really handy if they did. I ability to make an informed guess about the possible outcomes of what was probably inadvisable activity might have soothed the nerves a bit on my latest auto-related adventure.
It was Sunday afternoon and we were up on Jahorina, one of Sarajevo's Olympic mountains, with Rowan's parents and an old family friend. I was the driver and one of Novi Most's Volkswagen Transporters was our transport. When we came to move the vehicle from one part of the resort to another it quickly became apparent the driver's side rear wheel had locked up. This had happened to this kombi during one of Mostar's rare snow falls earlier this year; the mechanic had subsequently checked the wheel and declared there was nothing wrong with it. Clearly it still had a problem with snow.
I called the co-worker who'd had the problem before. 'I just drove backwards and forwards a few metres and it freed up' they said. We were in the entrance to a car park so I thought we'd give it a go. On the few patches of clear tarmac the wheel would turn but on any snow or ice it just slid. Then it happened. I moved further onto the snow in the car park to let cars behind me pass. Stuck. With a binding back wheel it was like trying to pull away with the handbrake on. (The handbrake was not on. Believe me, I checked!) We pulled out the snow chains. There's always a first time and this was it for me and snow chains. We got them on just as local patience was wearing thin. We were moving again.
The road up (and down) to the ski resort was covered in snow for several winding kilometres. I decided that with no clear and traffic-free road to work the wheel free on the best option was to head down the mountain, hoping that the snow was slidy enough we wouldn't wear through the tyre. And so it was we started a very slow procession back towards Sarajevo. More than fifty vehicles overtook us on those long kilometres; some of them displaying a frighteningly dangerous combination of impatience and recklessness. But others – probably more than half – helpfully pointed at the frozen rear wheel. I nodded back in acknowledgement, but couldn't help thinking that the driver of a kombi doing 15kph with his hazard lights on is probably aware that something is up with his vehicle.
Back on tarmac it was off with the chains and a welcome return to four fully functioning wheels. I don't know what the cause of the problem was. The kombi will go back to the mechanic for what we hope will be a better diagnosis. In the meantime, maybe I should be looking on Amazon for a Haynes manual.