Inevitably you end up in a convoy with other ralliers as you head east towards Western Mongolia. Having traveled through Eastern Europe and the Cacausus alone, the sudden companionship of other ralliers is a welcome change.
The first convoy I joined is of two other Canadian teams, Lachlan of Polar Bear Posing as People, Peter and Darian of The Cranky Canukes. We bumped our way through the god awful roads of Turkmenistan together, got trapped in sand looking for campsite and blabbered on forever about milkshake in delirium.
The next main convoy is another team of Canadians, Paul, David and Marc of Canadian Camaraderie (there are Canadians everywhere!) and three Aussies, Locky, Scott and Tim, Men who Stares at Camels. We meet up in Northern Kazakhstan and reached the finish line together in Ulaanabaatar 10 days later.
Much like finding a traveling friend, finding the right convoy to travel with is an art unto itself. The convoy becomes an extension of your team and finding a team who is on the same timetable as you is the first order of business.
We waited at the mechanic’s all morning for new brakes for Men Who Stared at Camels, spend two hours driving around in an obscure Russian town to find a new battery for Canadian Camaraderie and the boys nearly got in a fist fight with a skinny Mongolian man trying to get a replacement tire for me. No one complaints and no one is upset that we are not driving as fast as we could be because we had to spend part of the day sorting the car out for another team. Without words, all for one and one for all was the underwriting principle.
We drive at the same speed, set up camp and share our meals, spend about the same amount of time screwing around in the morning before we face down the kilometers ahead. When each decision is effortless and in sync, you know you are traveling in the right convoy.
When I started on The Mongol Rally, I was looking forward to all the interactions I will have with the locals as I make my way through 14 countries. What I didn’t realize then is that your interactions with the locals are limited because of the speed we must travel at. Aside from stopping for supplies, petro and mechanical failures, there is very little opportunity to interact with anyone other than fellow ralliers as you are constantly in the middle of nowhere.
As Christopher McCandless so aptly put it, “happiness is only real when shared,” each pot hole, bad road, and river crossing was made better because of the excellent company I am with.