I was quite happy and surprised at how smooth our Mongol Rally planning went during the first couple months. From late January till early April it was all smooth sailing.
We found a few new sponsors like OneSimCard and XCOM Global, raised a bit of money for our charity (yet not nearly enough), we had our car, and our team was a big happy family when Stephen of A Backpacker’s Tale joined us to become a team of 4.
Little did I know, that our smooth sailing in planning would come crashing against a wall at high speed!
And so, the drama started! Hey, if we are called The Drama of Llama, at least we need to live up to our name once! Actually, more than once…
In early April the team got its biggest blow. Our teammate, Vitalli, mentioned to us that he would have to drop out of the team due to a very promising job offer in the US.
For a few weeks, we (well, he) tried to find a loophole where he could take the job and still do the rally, but in the end, it was unsuccessful. We lost a precious teammate and our official clown. Sigh…
Did I say we lost a precious teammate? Yes, not only Vitalli was our in house clown (well, he still is from the sidelines), but he was also the owner of the car. Ooops, now the team has no car!
Vitalli needed to sell the car so he could pay for his working visa and moving expenses, but his price was above our budget. Totally understandable. Now the team has to look for a car.
As if fate had everything planned, when I was in Senegal a couple of weeks ago I shared with my hostel roommate, Alex Humphries, the current drama the team was facing.
Without knowing, I was somehow sparking his curiosity on the rally. After some discussion and deliberation, Alex joined the team! We are again a team of 4!
Our (second) team of 4 didn’t last long. A few days after, Livia told us she too would have to get off the team due to budgeting reasons. Did I say we now need to buy a car?! We were back to 3.
And, I’ll admit that this even made me consider if I should do the rally of not. But, I decided to stay. I have a commitment!
Looking like crazy for a 4th teammate, we “shouted” here and there we were looking for an extra person crazy enough to drive a vacuum cleaner to Mongolia (yeah, that’s basically the size of the car’s motor and the car itself).
I posted on The Adventurists facebook board that we needed a 4th teammate and shared our route so prospective adventures would know where we would be going.
Not only didn’t we get anyone interested in joining, but the response we got was quite frustrating: the border between Georgia and Russia is closed (a border we intended to cross). That Blows!
For a few days we considered different options:
- Should we go to Azerbaijan and take the ferry to Turkmenistan? There’s no time to get the extra visas, plus the ferry is expensive.
- Should we instead cross from Azerbaijan to Russia? We couldn’t find reliable information on this possibility.
- Should we reroute completely and take the route through Ukraine? Possible, but we want to go to Turkey!
- Should we still try Georgia and test our luck?! Let’s do it!!
Apparently, according to the information we’ve found, there’s a possibility of crossing the border at one specific border crossing. It’s still not guaranteed. Should we not be able to cross, we would backtrack and take the ferry from Turkey to Russia.
So, that’s the plan till now.
We all made our best to find a 4th teammate, but it wasn’t until Stephen posted it on the travel bloggers facebook group that we managed to find our (hopefully final) 4th member. I present to you, Leif Harum of The Runaway Guide!
A few days ago, we were two weeks away from the car registration deadline, and we were still nowhere near finding a new car under our budget.
Upon further discussion, we raised a bit our budget and discussed with Vitalli the option of buying his car. Win, Win! We have our old car again! Oh, by the way, her name is Lizzy! (Lizzy the Vacuum… Just don’t tell Vitalli I call her that way)
I’m still not sure how I’ll drive manual after my embarrassing experience driving in Ouarzazate. I’m still hoping to learn a bit more with my friends when I stop in Puerto Rico just before the rally. Oh, the horrible things I’ll do to their cars!
So, where are we now?
Stephen has his Russia and Kazakhstan visas ready to go while I’m waiting (impatiently) for the Visa Machine to process mine. It’s not cool to be in a foreign country without your passport. Leif and Alex will start their visa process soon and on their own.
The car will soon be transferred to Alex’s name (since it’ll be easier for paperwork and insurance since he’s from the UK) and will be registered with the rally in the next few days.
We recently added ExOfficio to our list of sponsors and we’ll so have an ExOfficio giveaway! Stay tuned for that!
Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with Dave and Deb of The Planet D and I did my best to pick their brains and learn from their Mongol Rally Experience. They were great and gave me some valuable tips. Thanks guys!! You can read about their experience here.
You can learn more about our experience on our Mongol Rally page.
Thanks! Until the next rally update where we’ll share some more drama!
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