Thursday, August 04, 2005

It was later in the afternoon; we had been in the town that Dmitri’s paternal ancestors had come. We wandered about looking for places that fit the photographs that his father had given him. We found the family plot at the cemetery and the building that was once a store owned by an ancestor. We had planned to spend the night there, but the place was lifeless and we chose to move on. The town of his mother’s family was about 100k from there.

We had little trouble at the border, our papers were in order but they wanted to search Buster for contraband. They made us open all our stuff but there was nothing to find and after an hour they let us go.

I was driving as D had contracted a case of diarrhea and was miserable. Every twenty minutes we needed to pull over and I went and stood a safe distance away while he stunk Buster up. After an airing out we’d move on. The condition of the road was lousy, the pavement broken and potholed. This kept our speed down to about 80KPH, which was a good pace for Buster.

Time to stop again, now back on the road. I put Buster in gear and let the clutch out, we began to pull away and just as I was about to shift a loud grinding noise and Buster stopped. The motor was fine and the transmission seemed ok but we couldn’t move.

Prior to leaving I insisted that we rent a satellite phone and now we were glad we did. D called his aunt and uncle. Even though we had a GPS we didn’t have good map software for Russia so we knew which road we were on but how far from a landmark was the question. We were told to stay with Buster and that they would send someone for us with a trailer.

Dmitri was sick, I was tired and the last few days had been stressful. All the ingredients that lead to a fight and it was a rip-roaring one. It was my fault Buster broke down something about how I drove. I let him have it mostly in English and then stomped off. I got about 40 meters up the road and then realized I had no place to go but back to Buster.

We sat there trying to ignore each other and the finally made some dinner. It was ten before the truck found us. It was a dump truck pulling a trailer. We knew it pulled off the road and stopped but we couldn’t see who it was. I was a bit scared. Then someone called D’s name. He shouted in return and a man about D’s age and teenaged boy ran across the road. The man was D’s cousin; D’s mom showed me a picture D and his cousin on a trip they made to Russia when D was ten.

We got Buster loaded on the trailer; it was after midnight when we got to his aunts. They had something for us to eat and some vodka. The vodka hit the spot. We were assured that there was a good mechanic that he was a friend and that we would get back on the road.

In the morning the mechanic quickly determined it was the transfer case. D spent the rest of the day tracking one down. Abandoning Buster in Russia wasn’t an option. He found one in a salvage yard in Poland; they said they shipped parts into Russia regularly but that it would take a week.

We’ve decided to catch a ride to St. Petersburg while the part comes we likely won’t have time later.



Anonymous Mim said...

well I do hope buster pulls through. Nothing worse then breaking down while on a trip. So much better doing it on the way into work for then it ruins an already bad day. Enjoy though your time in St Petersburg

12:43 AM  
Blogger Pete from Cal said...

Sorry to hear about Buster needing a fix-up. Hope it will be okay once the part arrives and then you guys can have a smooth drive back to Paris. I guess Buster's breakdown and D not feeling well really put a strain on your relationship. Hang in there!

11:35 PM  

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