What a day. We woke up at 7 and tried to figure out how to kill time until we heard from the convoy of 4 teams in the same city as us. We figured we could tweak a few things in the car and change the other shock absorber since it was also leaking. We asked the first guy we saw where we can find car parts and he sent us one way saying we won't miss it. There was nothing there. So we asked another guy who spent 10 minutes, very animatedly, giving us directions in the exact opposite direction.
What is it with Kazakhstan and directions? EVERY time we ever ask directions, we always get an interesting variety of answers that never match. After 2 more stops for direction, we found the bazaar.
While walking around looking for shock absorbers, a guy approached us asking what we were looking for. He was a mechanic and offered to install it. We figured what the hell, for $10, avoiding having to lay on the dirty ground once again and getting greased up considering we can't shower... sure.
He got the car up on the lift, took out the old shock and sent us on a hunt for a new one..... thought that was part of his service when we agreed... strike one.
Strike two, a guy demanded an "entrance fee" for entering the garage after the car was already lifted. Wtf.
While the car was up and we were hunting for the new part, the mechanic helped himself to welding things. He took apart what the boys did last night and welded the exhaust... which is good. But he had taken the sump guard off entirely to do so and did a pretty shitty job of welding it back on. Strike three.
Again, I was proud of my negotiation skills at the bazaar. He asked for 6500 Tenge for the part and I coyly mentioned that it's a bazaar and shouldn't I be negotiating? He said a solid 6000 and I rejoiced in saving almost $2 for a brand new part. Also, we never paid the entrance fee #rebels.
All was swell until it wasn't. We drove throughout the day, on our own since we got tired of waiting for them to wake up, but the drive was far from silent. Something had been rattling from the instant we left the city.
We pulled over hours later finally deciding to check it after playing hopscotch on the highway with 2 other teams from Almaty. Turns out the clutch cover fell off and had been rattling inside the sump guard, which we only checked because the FRONT of the sump guard fell off as we could no longer drive on. There was no way for us to reattach it - no holes for zip ties or wire.
The first town we barely made it to had one mechanic although the town locals apparently were unaware of it. We asked one guy for directions and he sent us 3 blocks to the right. Along the way we saw another team stopped for kebobs so we pulled in to chat. As we were complaining about the chaos that has been directions to them, I figured I'd ask the chef just in case. Lo and behold, the only mechanic in town, was in fact behind us on the left. Unfortunately, turned out the mechanic left town, and the shop owner had a broken arm. We waited for almost an hour for him to come after he said he'd be a few minutes. We just needed to weld it, and we asked if justin could do it under his supervision since he couldn't do it himself. It was only 4 and we still had hours of daylight left if we got this done asap.
This turned into a 3 hour debacle of all these randos who showed up trying to weld it while the actual welder did nothing and didn't actually walk anyone through what to do. Turns out the guy who took the welding gun out of Justin's hands was drunk and put a hole through the metal. That's when we called it quits, sent everyone packing, and attached a wire through the hole figuring it'll at least get us to the next town.
Driving through the dark on these roads was NOT pleasant. The main highway was so ridiculously bumpy, there are no words to describe it. We've read so much about it before doing the Mongol Rally, but nothing actually prepared us for it.
We made it to the next town and pulled in to a "diner" to see if there was a mechanic in this town - would it be worth calling it a night here to get it fixed in the morning or should we keep driving on?
It was such a sweet old lady at the diner - which was actually her home. She called the mechanic who came over while she made us a meal. Turned out the garage was attached to the diner and the mechanic showed up on a Saturday night at 8:30pm for us. I ended up eating by myself constantly apologizing for Justin's absence and him not eating the hot meal while he couldn't stop watching the guy in the garage. I came by a few times to check up and it was quite intense. The guy was appalled by everything that's been done thus far (we just told him it was all a drunk guy and left out the part that justin got to play with the welding machine too). Justin was gaping wide mouthed at what this guy was putting up - it will definitely hold!! He cleaned up what was there, cut off all the crap, reattached it beautifully, and even put in a bar across the whole thing to hold it extra securely. It was pure art. We could probably make up for lost time tomorrow in speed knowing how secure it all is. The lady offered us a room, hot water, everything. She was so sweet! We opted for the car in her parking lot but she asked what time we'll be up so she can have tea ready, haha.
We climbed in and sudoku'ed ourselves to sleep.