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There are so many articles out there about how to meet people while travelling. Seventeen says hit the beach or gym. Bring a deck of cards or ask people to take your picture advises Huff Post.  On the off-chance that “meet” isn’t code for “one-night-hookup”, I can tell you that I’ve got a sure-fire way to spend quality time with bona-fide locals. Drive the Classic to a foreign country.

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Thanks to this foolproof strategy, in just our first three days in Spain we met:

  • The people in the tiny town (five kilometers back toward where we started) where we pulled over the first time the temperature needle started to rise. They made us hamburgers and suggested we stay overnight.
  • The Russian tow-truck driver who rescued the Classic after it started chirping and drove it eight more kilometers back toward where we started. (I recognized the chirping from the time a few months ago when it led to the new water pump. There was no way, the hub reassured me, that could be the problem again.)
  • Oscar and his parents at the garage, where they filled the radiator with fluid.
  • The friendly police officer two blocks away who pointed out that said fluid was flooding out of the car.
  • Oscar and his parents (again), when they taught us how to say bomba de agua rota (broken water pump) and arranged for us to stay at a charming hostal nearby. I can’t remember much about their food, but their local vino was fantastic.
Lovely hostal with misty mountain views and geraniums on the balcony

Lovely hostal with misty mountain views and geraniums on the balcony

  • The new tow-truck driver who understood when Oscar and his parents taught me to say ¿Seriamente? Mi perro no puede montar en su grúa? (Seriously? My dog can’t ride in your tow-truck?) but also made the dog stay in the Classic as he towed it to the Classic-fixers (twenty-nine kilometers back toward where we started.)
Wait...you're leaving me in the back of the Classic as it's being towed backwards? In a foreign country where I don't even know how to say broken water pump?

So let me get this straight…you’re leaving me in the back of the Classic as it’s being towed? In a foreign country where I don’t even know how to say broken water pump?

  • The Classic-fixers who installed the new bomba de agua.

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  • The Classic-fixers (again) when the Classic, armed with a new bomba de agua overheated before we made it out of town. This time we learned how to say necesita gasket de valve nuevo motor (needs new engine valve gasket).
  • The lovely gentleman at the car rental shop who sent us off in a car with single-digit age and air-conditioning, and who taught me to say ¡Mejores amigos para siempre! (BFFs always!).

So how about you? How do you meet the locals when you’re on vacation?

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