First there was the screeching of brakes, followed by a dull thud, and then the sound of breaking glass. Finally there was the sound of our own swearing. As if being in a car accident, on holiday and in a foreign country wasn't enough already, Andrew, the driver for the day, looked into the rear vision mirror as we came to a halt and simply says: "They don't look very happy."
Although I found this particularly ridiculous considering that he had smashed up their car, I turned around to survey the scene. My eyes got no further than the two men who were sprinting towards us; and they weren't just angry.
We had just enough time to lock the doors before they began kicking the van and trying to smash the windows. All thoughts of apologies and paperwork turned to ones of self-preservation. They preferred to trade punches rather than insurance details. "Go, go, go," I yelled to Andrew. We took off. It was only as it became obvious that we weren't going to stop that one of the men let go of our wing mirror and fell on to the road behind us. It wasn't as though we had any real chance of getting away in the low-speed car chase that followed anyway: we managed to drive into a one-way street. We were caught.
With steering lock bar in one quivering hand and insurance papers in the other, I was able to restore some calm. We were escorted back to the crash site, with one of us riding in their car. A crowd had gathered and the situation was anything but calm. We were subjected to swearing, spitting, threats of violence and crying. You didn't need to speak French to understand.
The arrival of the police restored some order but our feelings of safety gave way to apprehension as we awaited our fate at the hands of the local law. Thankfully, it was not a trip to the cells that awaited us but a mountain of paperwork and tedious translations. To our surprise we were free to go within an hour. As we drove away we watched the wreckage of the other car being towed off as the occupants solemnly watched. We were painfully aware of what we had done and our only consolation was that no one was hurt.
We made straight for the Spanish border, half expecting a lynching party in pursuit. It was only after a few drinks that we began to relax, reflect on the day and look forward to the journey ahead.
Now take three lads, a partially smashed-up old van, a thirst for adventure, foreign soils and a belief that nothing else could possibly go wrong. Some would say that that sounds like a trip destined for disaster.Reuse content