Just a quick fill in on the state of affairs. We finally left the workshop in Brest at 3pm high as kites, the water pump fixed and enjoying a very warm farewell from nearly all the workshop. Our rally cohort had left in convoy at 8 am to get through the Belarus/Polish border into the EU, which was known to have up to a 12 hour wait. Andrey had looked up the border and it didn’t look good so we were a bit nervous (of course..the nellies), about how long we would sit there without our special rally friends. However Andrey, showing the wonderful hospitality we had so far experienced, had offered to drive in front of us. With all the signs in Russian and not having an exact address for the border it can be confusing to find the way.
Andrey drove like the clappers in rain swept streets, creating big bow waves in his 4×4. After about 5 minutes Gunther and I looked at each other as a funny sound came from the engine. Paranoid as usual we thought, but stopped Andrey to have a listen just in case. Water from the street, phew!
As we got to the border Andrey drive past the long long line of people to the front of the line. He has a natural authority as boss of there Lada centre. Of course we could do nothing but follow. To our total surprise they waved us through. We said goodbye to Belarus and Andrey and drove through into the border control, just like Lukashenko the Belarus president (who nobody here that we spoke to liked, Belarus is the most totalitarian country in Europe), and couldn’t believe our luck. In 3/4 of an hour we were through and into Poland and the EU. It felt like coming home! At every point we were waved out of the line and brought to a special post where we could move straight through. Apparently they had been waiting for car 99 so thank you to the Russian organizers and especially to a young girl who had looked after us. Other people were waiting for hours.
On the road again and driving to catch up with the rally at last. We were so pleased.
“Gunther is the engine heating up?”
We both looked at the gauge like worried parents with a sick child.
It was, and 5 kms later the gauge spiked and we pulled over. It was very quiet in the car – yet again. All that work that the mechanics had done for nothing! The seal had broken although the bearing held together. I knew they would all be very disappointed. But we will never forget how much effort they put in and the very warm reception we had.
We were more stoic this time. Slowly adapting to the situation and accepting that shit really does happen. This was the third and hopefully the last time. Then again we were learning that everything is unpredictable and one had to accept the situation. No use worrying about it. Luckily Gunther had ordered a new water pump and sent it to Budapest 700 kms away. Now in the EU and away from the impossible Russian customs it was easier to get parts. And you wouldn’t believe it, 2 minutes later a tow truck drove past and Gunther flagged it down. Jerik the young driver was expecting his first baby any minute. He was only taking 5 minutes to pick up a part needed for a mate in the next town and wasn’too keen to drive 70 kms at 7 pm but we finally sweet talked him into it. God knows how we would have ordered a tow truck in the middle of nowhere, and in Polish. Although now fluent in Russian, my Polish was a little rusty.
We towed Tilly to the next town Lublin where we stayed the night and organized yet a third tow truck to take us to Budapest. Just an aside (this was supposed to be a short blog) while we were still in driving mode we went past the Buick (car 50) that had been on the previous tow truck that we had used. They were bent over the engine again. We stopped and tried to help. They told us later because we booked them a room in the same hotel, that they finally had to get towed into town but as things happen, there was an old timer meeting at the edge of town and they found someone who could help them. This is a typical rally story. They had a big problem, I think it was a crack in the engine block and weren’t sure whether they could continue. Very disappointing after 12,000 kms.
To cut a long journey in a tow truck short (10 hours in fact), we arrived in Budapest yesterday and Gunther is putting in the new pump today. He is getting very dirty fingernails. Hopefully we will be on the road on Monday.
The rest of the rally arrives today. I am looking forward to seeing everyone. With my FOMO I have felt like a lost wraith. They had a bad day yesterday with two more cars rolling, one quite badly. The driver is in hospital with a cracked vertebrae and for this crew the rally is over. This must be heart breaking as they were coming second and have thrown everything at it to do well. Such a shame. It has been an exhausting time and I’m sure this contributed to their demise.
Tomorrow is a rest day and this time next week I would really hope that we are one day away from Paris. Here is hoping. One thing is for sure. We now fully appreciate our luck in life.