Actual date: 7 August 2012
Location: Kiva/Urgench, Uzbekistan
We spent an hour or so in the morning with our maps, planning our route to Mongolia’s border and set what we thought would be a good goal for the day’s driving based on our usual performance.
After leaving Kiva and driving around 15mins we realize we had taken a bit of a wrong turn and were headed directly towards a Turkmen border.
We turned back, and eventually found our way back to the main road; not so bad – only a 30min detour.
While exiting Urgench, the next city ca 30km from Kiva, we saw a mechanic and thought we should get our car checked out – it’s been sounding like a F1 car for a while and from what little we know we might have a couple of holes in the exhaust system.
When the mechanics raised the car, even our extremely limited mechanical knowledge was enough to know we’d messed up. The exhaust pipe had completely broken off just under the engine block and was hanging loose. A part that seemed to have the job of connecting the two ends was more or less torn to shreds.
So, Mr. Lindmarker and Mr. Lejfjord settled down outside the mechanic to cook a bit of lunch while Gustav jumped in a car with two of the mechanics and headed to a nearby auto-parts store to buy a replacement. Honestly the whole thing went quiet smoothy – we got hold of the right part and after some cutting and welding it had been added to the car. Everything looked better than ever, and the price was more than acceptable after offering the mechanics some vodka and serenading them with our guitar.
It did knock 4 hours off the days planned driving though.
As soon as we’re out of the city we immediately hit what seems to be the norm – roads made to destroy our car with bumps or, if we manage to dodge those, simply by shaking the car to pieces. After only a few minutes it succeeds.
Some readers might remember how our roof rack is attached – four holders, one of which was replaced with a rock in Turkmenistan. All of these had now fallen off.
Resigned to the fact, we started dismounting our four tires from the rack so we can reattach everything and make sure it’ll hold. A new stone is found to replace the old one – luckily the remaining three holders are still hanging onto the rack, and we managed to reattach them to the car, tightening them as much as possible. Since one of the reasons the roof rack is unstable is the weight of the tires, and we still haven’t had need of them, we decide to get rid of two of them. There is only one possible way of doing this.
Instantly, we start waving down cars and shouting about the sale of our wonderful Swedish quality tires. Almost every car stops and we spend the next half hour chatting with stopped drivers and trying to sell our tyros. It’s not as much as they’re worth back home, but we do get them sold for an even 100 USD.
Our spirits buoyed by the street selling, we jump in the car excited to be on our merry way. We turn the key. Nothing happens. Naturally.
We get out and start pushing the car, but after a few tries Mr. Lindmarker collapses from exhaustion and we instead pull out the starter cables. Luckily, a minibus is quick to stop. Unluckily, it seems quite impossible to gain access to it’s battery so we instead direct our waving to an approaching Jeep.
This time everything works as it should and we get the car started. We’re on our way again.
50 metros later we screech to a halt after noticing that a holder has fallen off. We reattach it and weave a net of duct tape around all the holders, making sure that even if they lose their grip, they won’t fall off completely.
Another minute of driving and we hear a sound straight out of our nightmares from under the car. We ease to a stop, get out, and check under the car.
Something is leaking. We give it a smell.
It’s oil. Our oil tank is losing oil from two serious holes.
We start waving down someone to help, and almost immediately a couple of cars pull up, and someone comes running from further down the road. As it turns out, we’ve stopped about 100m from a petrol station so we start by pushing ‘ol Getzy up there. As we’re pushing the people who stopped to help start calling others, and when we reach the petrol station there’s a new man waiting for us. He points to a house just a bit further in from the road, indicating it’s his place.
It turns out he owns a bit of land including the petrol station we standing on, some farmland with crops and animals, and just happens to have a garage for repairs next to his house.
We push the car another 100m or so into the garage and after us and a few others poke around the underbelly investigating the wholes, everyone repeating “sverka” (Russian for welding), a ex-military looking jeep pulls up and a gang of seeming field mechanics jump out – even pulling a makeshift welding kit with them.
We retreat a little distance, suspecting the dodgy looking welding kit might explode at any moment (the sounds seemed to indicate it was imminent). It’s getting late by now and the sun is setting, so we start cooking a meal and discussing what we should do tonight- will the car be ready soon? Keep driving? Ask if we can sleep here? It’s illegal to camp, so we’ll have to think of something.
Just as we finish cooking, our host joins us and presents us with a homemade dinner – a delicious Palov that we’re more than happy to dig into.
We’re than approached by his wife as well, and the couple welcome us to sleep on their terrace while indicating that we will probably get bitten and/or stung by several nasty things and die if we stay on the ground. We think it seems like a good idea.
On the terrace, the evening gets a magnificent ending – the family comes out with carpet to sit on, fun (although halting) conversation through much signing, and sweet melon to eat, after which we join them in giving thanks to Allah.
Once the family retreats, we gradually drift to sleep while staring at the brilliant night sky and witnessing maybe a dozen falling stars.
A mad day, a great night.