I take my time through Russia as the convoy I am now part of is plagued with mechanical failures. A two full day of driving stretches itself out to 3.5 days and we arrived at the Mongolian border just before 6pm, just before the end of the workday. We hand over our passports and are directed to pull into “the compound” where there are at least 40 other teams.
The weather is turning fast. Our desire to say hello to other ralliers and get the lowdown on this border situation is quickly superseded by the need to set up shelter. We line our cars up into a U-Shape, rig up all the tarp we have just as the storm hits. We huddle together under the tarp in the freezing cold rain and gale force wind hoping our tents doesn’t blow away.
Welcome to Mongolia! Oh wait, we are not quiet there yet….so close yet so far away.
In between the storm, visitors arrive to admire the awesome refugee camp we’ve set up and share news. Some teams have been in “the compound” for 36 hours already and have no idea if they will be processed out by tomorrow.
I guess it’s a good thing that we’ve got at least 5 days worth of food.
Rain stops and the storm breaks. Three little black goats wander into the compound and the boys decided to herd them. Dave and Locky each catches one, we hold onto the little goat for a picture and let it go while the third goat is caught by an Italian, picked up and brought to the other end of the compound as victory! What we do for fun when we are denied our freedom.
The next morning all the drivers hang out by the administration building hoping to get ourselves processed so we do not spend another night camping on concrete. An officer walks by me and asks me if I am Chinese in Mandarin and he practices the 5 phrases he knows in Mandarin with me. Next thing you know, my car has been called, the only Dacia in the lot. My paper work is all of sudden ahead in the queue and I have been processed ahead of teams that arrived long before. I have officially been imported and I am free to go, but I can’t leave. I can’t leave my boys behind.
I share a smoke with a friendly officer who speaks English fluently and attempt to get the Canadians and the Aussies processed out as well. The officer spends the length of 2 cigarettes telling me about the Korean girl he was in love with during his schooling days in Seattle before he told me “if it was just one more car, I can maybe make it happen for you, but two more….I don’t want to tell you no, but it is unlikely. Tomorrow for sure.”
Another night camping on concrete then….oh my lung hurts from smoking at 2800 meters.
44 hours later, 2 nights camping in a concrete compound, we are free to go at last. Mongolia! We’ve traveled a long way to get to you…
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