The Beginning of the End

After leaving the Aussie mining camp we hit the road hard, trying to make up time and cover ground since we’d been relaxing for two days at the camp. We were nearly spoiled by the warm showers, hot food and great entertainment on the mining compound, and it was a sad moment piling back into the dirty cars and hitting the road. That night, we made it quite far and shockingly without incident. We even found a decent hotel to stay in, only our second hotel for the entire trip. Since our tent was ruined and still dripping wet from the rain storm two days ago, we were out of other options. The hotel was nice enough, and a friendly Mongolian lady helped translate for us and dinned on eggs and potatoes with our caravan.

The next morning we found the mechanic’s shop– a small garage on the outskirts of town, and had them set about welding our back end. Since we had too much weight in the car over unstable and bumpy roads, the frame in the back of the car literally split in two. The tires were rubbing on the wheel wells, and the back right tire had already worn through the gas line. The mechanics took the entire day welding in a bar across the trunk, separating and pushing back the two sides of the car and playing a round of darts between each act. We had literally run the thing into breaking in half. They patched the gas line and we were ready to roll. Unfortunately, it was already late evening by the time we got away from the mechanics. The rest of the caravan had waited patiently the entire day. Now we had a problem. Our car couldn’t support the weight it was carrying. We dumped everything we owned on the ground and began selling things to anyone who walked by. the tires fetched $25. Our expensive tent got us a return of about $15. Food, games, books, clothing, supplies, car parts– everything was dumped in the trash or sold. We put the remainder, our three personal bags, in the back of the Norwegian’s car, and we put three lighter weight people in the Citroen Saxo to keep the weight down even more. We were still riding low and it was only a matter of time before the gas line was rubbed raw again.

It was going to be a rough trip to the capital, this we could already see. The caravan was patient with our pathetic situation, and Aslan the Norwegian even offered to carry the people if we could all go through our supplies and leave what wasn’t necessary. They tossed stuff from their car, selling the spare battery, the sound system, all unnecessary food, etc. They were serious about keeping everyone safe. Once you get a challenge in a Norwegian’s head, it’s as good as achieved. They were determined to get us all to the finish line.

While the mechanics were ignoring/working on our car, the caravan filled the hours by shopping for traditional Mongolian dress, which most of us bought (our team excluded since we were broke after the car repairs). Everyone looked dashing in their Mongolian garb. We set off down the road only to encounter a massive hill crossing right out of the gates. The car made it to the top before the gear linkage popped out again.

Come back one more time to see if we make it to Ulaan Bataar! In the next episode– the end of the rally!

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