A 78-year-old German woman's solo journey around the world has made a sudden pit stop in Manitoba after her travel partner — a 1930 Hudson automobile — broke down near the Canada-U.S. border this week.
Heidi Hetzer has driven her vintage car, named Hudo, through eastern Europe, central Asia, China, south Asia, Australia and New Zealand, the United States and Canada since she began her journey last year.
"Hudo is like my husband — we know each other now so well," she told Radio Noon guest host Sarah Penton on Thursday.
"I'm in a good mood when he drives. I'm miserable when he breaks down, like right now."
The car, which she described as "like a James Bond car or like a gangster car wagon," has clocked many kilometres on highways and crossed oceans aboard ships during the trek. But just as Hetzer crossed the border back into the U.S. this week, Hudo suddenly broke down.
"Between Canada and [the] U.S.A., my car stopped and didn't want to go on. It was unbelievable!" she said.
"I don't know if the car didn't want to go to America or whatever, but it broke down and the customs people had to push me back to Canada because I wanted to go back; it was closer than going somewhere in America."
With Hudo escorted back into Canada, Hetzer is now waiting for new head gaskets to arrive at an auto shop in the border town of Emerson, Man.
She said she hopes she and Hudo can hit the road again on Friday.
Hetzer is well-versed in all things automotive, as a former car dealer and rally car driver in Germany. She decided to circumnavigate the world as a retirement project.
"I sold my business and my children said, 'Mama, what do you do? You die if you don't work.' So I said I drive around the world," she said.
Hetzer was joined by a male co-pilot when she left Berlin in July 2014, but she's been driving solo for most of the trip.
Her next stops will be along eastern Canada and the United States. Hetzer said she hopes to visit Cuba, then head to Peru and Argentina, where Hudo will board another ship across the ocean to Africa.
Hetzer, who has been chronicling her journey with her blog and Instagram account, said she plans to drive from Africa back to Europe, with the goal of returning to Berlin by next summer.
"Do something. Don't sit in front of the TV. Just whatever you want to do, it is possible," she said. "You stay younger much longer if you do something."