Actual Date: 27 July 2012
Location: Somewhere in the south of Georgia; between the coast and Tbilisi; Tbilisi
We woke up to the sound of waves crashing on the shore.
We declared how much we love what we’re doing.
We reveled in the awesomeness, fun and relative ease of the rally.
Apparently, this is how you tempt fate.
The border was north, so for once we could follow our compass (for some reason it always points north), and the crossing was relatively painless now that we finally had all our papers in order*.
Following the numerous signs towards casinos, which we hear also indicate major cities, we eventually came to a sign
TBILISI: TURN LEFT
Gustav, navigating, saw the sign: “Go straight, it’s a shorter way”.
At first, everything seemed ok. According the map (2 years old) this was a shorter path and a highway to boot. According to the map.
Slowly the road started getting worse, and we started climbing.
An hour later we were in the mountains and the road was challenging its permission to be classified as such.
We were now averaging 20km/h and Tbilisi started looking further away.
On the plus side, the landscape was absolutely breathtaking. Mountainous, completely forested, and dotted with houses or minor settlements.
We stopped for lunch on the side of the road above a precipitous drop and a fast-running river in the valley below. While cooking we waved to cars who honked their horns in greeting – friendly enough – and an orthodox priest from a nearby monastery stopped for a quick chat.
Feeling refreshed, we got back on the road but some tempers were starting to flare. Mr Lejfjord, excited about reaching Tbilisi was not nearly as enthralled with the slow bumpy ride along winding mountain roads as Gustav, who was as usual practically overjoyed.
We turned a corner, and there it was. Or rather, wasn’t. The road was gone. As in “not there” and had been replaced with a digging machine that was shifting dirt as a small crowd looked on.
Apparently there had been some kind of landslide and a team was now working on setting up some semblance of a passageway.
The onlookers said it would take 1 something. 1 unit of time we couldn’t understand – 1 minute, hour, day, week, month, year? Who knows.
Man of the Georgian Mountains / "Onlooker"
So, resigned to the fact that we were well and truly stuck (nope, no way around), we scouted a place to tent for the night (this was around 2pm methinks), got our cooking gear out and Munchkin – a fun little card game we’ve brought along.
We had just settled in and starting dealing out the cards when suddenly there was shouting and a general rush to the few waiting cars – the road was ready!
Hmm, that doesn’t seem right.
Yup, definitely not a “road”. But the mounds of dirt piled along the precipice and slowly spilling down seemed to be passable. The first car made it, and that was good enough for us!
We reversed, gathered speed, and careened over the passageway with only a few minor bumps.
Thrilled with out success, we soon realized that we had moved about 20km in the past 2 1/2 hours. Things did not look good.
We grit our teeth and kept moving, trying to balance a good speed with the wellbeing of our little car that could. Or rather – Mr. Lejfjord gritted his teeth, Mr. Lindmarker eyed the booze, and Gustav stared out the window constantly asking for stops to enjoy the sights or take pictures.
At the semi-top of one of the mountains, there were a few buildings around the sign that seemed to point us in the right direction – as well as a little store where we could restock some water. After double checking which of the two possible roads the sign was point at, we headed into the store where we were greeted by a gang of military-outfit-wearing rural Georgians and a thrown-together store with a few piles of mystery meat here and there.
Naturally, we couldn’t resist and had a quick meal in the dodgy little shack. The mustard we were given with the bread tasted of paint thinner.
We were soon back on the road, and had driven another hour or so along the insanely rocky almost-road when..
BUMP. CRASH. SH*T!
The rear mirror showed a part of our car lying on the road. That is Not where it’s supposed to be.
We jumped out of the car and immediately saw what was wrong – the roof rack had collapsed, and one of the pieces fastening it to the car had fallen off.
This time we were lucky – as it’s not part of the engine or otherwise interconnected to any vital parts of the car, we managed to screw everything back together roughly as it was before. Whatever – it seems to be holding.
We piled back into the car and turned the ignition.
We turned it again.
Literally, no reaction whatsoever from our trusty metal steed. It turns out our battery is starting to have mood swings and will loose all power for no apparent reason sometimes, so we had to jump back out and attempt to push-start it on the rocky rocky mountain path. The decline helped – almost a little too much.
A few hours later – something’s missing. What’s that smooth feeling? there’s… OMIGOD WE’RE ON ASPHALT!!!
After many celebratory whoops and high-fives, and a sniff of scotch (no drinking in the car) we were speeding down a real highway headed straight for Tbilisi.
Upon arriving at the hostel in Tbilisi (after a few wrong turns, friendly cab drivers trying to give us directions in Russian, and a few extra rounds in a roundabout – 8 to be precise) we were informed by a couple of guests in the lobby that another gang of Mongol Rallyers had just left for a night on the town.
The result was that we spent ca 45 seconds at the hostel which was just to enough to don our Chef outfits (kudos to Rent a Chef for those).
Rushing to the bar where we thought our fellow rallyers had gone, we marched in as a trio of chefs in full kit unchallenged by anyone who would otherwise bar our way and cheered on by everyone who spotted us – it was exhilarating.
Naturally, this called for a bar-hop where we simply wanted to make appearances and fuel our already oversized egos. We were falling more and more in love with Tbilisi.
The night continued and eventually led us to a more relaxed bar filled with pool tables where we proceeded to demonstrate the Chef-Pool-Dance(™) and play a surprisingly good game of pool or two.
Exhaustion caught up to us soon after sunrise which reminded us of where we woke up 24 hours ago… Our beds received a truly warm and long embrace.
Another night at the hostel and it’s time for recipe-hunting!!
*What’s that? A hint at bonus content for book-owners?