Wednesday 24th July 2013
So who put those stones there, in a line? We have seen no other rock formations like it in the whole of our travels. Hilde says it reminds her of Stonehenge. I walk around the rocky outcrop, and wade through wild thyme and flowering chives up to my waist. I had hoped the sun would have changed the colours of the rocks more, but the sky is a bit overcast. Still, I take dozens of photos, and some of out encampment.
Tim is trying to secure the exhaust to the Landy. Our rear tyres are nearly bald. Good job we are having them replaced tomorrow. Sit in the sun, getting hotter now, writing lesson plans for tomorrow. Eeeeekkkkkk!!!! Going to take loads of stuff – maps, travel books, Country Living magazine, song book, balloons. Counting, parts of the body (age appropriate and legal), finding places on maps, directionality, Feely Bag, I went to UB and I bought, I Spy…… Too many ideas for one lesson, but OFSTED won’t be there, so who cares?
Poor Tim is suffering. He got hot yesterday, so has prickly heat. (It may be eczema, but can’t spell that.) Smother him in lotion. Hope that helps. Even he is complaining about the state of his hair, asking if I have any conditioner. No, but there may be some at the hotel. Hilde is thrilled that her contact has organised the next few days. Seems we won’t be able to get to the traditional music show tonight, there won’t be time. So she arranges to meet her in the lobby, and we will all go out for a meal.
It starts to rain a little as we leave. Atle is not happy, there is something wrong with his car. He leads. Tim can use low range engine braking down the hill. Only 2.5km to the main road. We stop at junction and Atle plugs in diagnostic kit. Our early start is slipping away. Never mind. Hildefender is down on power, may be to do with turbo. Air filter checked.
We set off, but Hildefender is just limping. We stop again, and attach the new solid tow bar. Manage a few Km, before they ask us to stop. They are too close to our vehicle, and can’t see anything. We swop to a longer strop. A car stops in the middle of the road, and asks us if we are alright. It is the Mongolian who looked at our maps yesterday. He wishes us a safe journey. Manage a juddering start, a little wobble and then we make good progress.
We are a “push-me-pull-you.” We are pulling them and they are the brakes. Overtaking is interesting. Several scary moments with animals and blue lorries obstructing our joint path. A car overtaking on the other side of the road, heading straight towards us and we can’t brake, is a challenge. We are fine.
We get to a major road junction, Atle slows us down, no oncoming traffic, so we go for it. We then stop for a toll booth, pay for both cars. Ok so far. We pull them up steep hills, they brake us on the way down. We realise we are slowing down going up hill. Then a horrible noise from the engine. Tim keeps hitting the temperature gauge, but once again it is not working. We ask Atle to brake. Engine overheated. Spewing water, not oil thank goodness. Let it cool, put more water in.
Just as we are getting back into the cars, I get stung. Tim is great. He finds the Aspi Venom and it sucks the fluid out. I can already feel it hurting like hell. We get back in the cars, I keep very still and my right arm down. Piriton and Epi Pen at the ready.
We don’t get very far at all, and we get no further under our own steam the whole of the day. Both cars broken. We phone the LR garage in UB. It takes a while, but they eventually organise two tow trucks. I sit on the back step, in the shade and have a cold drink. Don’t think this will develop into a full blown anaphylactic shock. Arm isn’t swelling and I feel ok.
We set out a picnic table and chairs in the lay-by. Hilde organises lunch, stuff which will not keep if the fridge has to be off for a few days whilst the cars are in the garage. We discuss our options. We don’t want our journey to end here, like this.
After a while, Atle has sorted the problem with his car. The second tow truck is an hour behind the first. Atle and Hilde decide to drive back towards UB. If the Landy is fine, they will cancel the second tow truck. They drive off.
Tim and I sit at the side of the road. I must admit, we felt a bit abandoned. But after 10 minutes or so, Hilde tells us they have just seen our recovery truck. It arrives, pulls into the lay by opposite. The driver gets out of the cab, makes a phone call. We wave at him. He gets back into the cab, and drives off!!!!!!! Now we really feel abandoned. Never seen Tim run so fast, yelling and waving his arms. The driver stops, reverses and comes to our aid.
We are sceptical that the truck is strong enough to transport our heavy Landy. Tim sits in whilst it is winched on to the flat bed. Driver, with very little English, indicates to leave it in gear with handbrake on. Chocks under the front wheel, no tying down, no nothing. This is our home and our only means of transportation. Please don’t let it bounce off the back.
We get in. It is 9pm. We get to bed at 2am. Driver is very careful. We have over 100km to travel, on rough roads, in the dark. Tim and I try to nod off, but it is bumpy, I have no head rest and, as agreed, we keep in touch with Atle and Hilde every 30 mins. They are making good progress, so the second truck is cancelled. Good.
During the journey we learn a little about our rescuer. He lives in UB, has two boys and is impressed with our Landy. He asks if it is automatic, no, if it is diesel, yes, and if it has a turbo, yes. He has the roundest, shiniest, happiest face. He keeps looking back at the Landy, gets out to check things and cleans the windscreen. Every time I ask him if he is ok, he laughs and says ok.
We can see the light pollution from UB. A small motorbike is ahead, carrying three adults. Suddenly it wobbles, crashes to the ground, and all three fall off. If we were following behind, we would have stopped, but the driver keeps going.
Eventually, we reach the main ring road. We see the Southern Route where we first entered the city. Even at this late hour there is a lot of traffic. Have to go on a short detour, which is extremely bumpy and dusty. The driver has the name of the garage, but we end up at the back of a place which sells large machinery. We tell him this is not the right place, then show him paperwork with the correct address. When we arrive at the complex, the gates are locked and the security guards will not open them. We show them paperwork for the service due to or row (well today actually, as it is now 00:30. ). The driver gives them a bung, and the gates are opened. We off load and lock up. I ask the driver if he will take us to the hotel, and without hesitating he says yes.
We know Atle and Hilde have reserved our rooms. We had planned to tell them when we were at the garage, and they would order a meal from room service. But we are too tired and emotional to eat. It has been a long day. We have gone through every emotion, from the exquisite tranquility of waking up this morning, to the feeling sick with fright during the towing, to the feeling of abandonment of being left, to the worry of what happens now, to the bone aching tiredness at the end of the day.
The driver pulls up outside Chinggis Khaan. It feels like our sanctuary. We pay him royally. Thank you, thank you, thank you we all say to each other. We give him a hug. Drive safely.
1.30am. The lifts are all broken. We walk up five flights of stairs with the meagre possessions we have salvaged from the car. All my work prepared for the school visit is still there. I will come back another time, and meet these amazing students and teachers.
We shower, have a drink and crash out, exhausted. 2am.