A secure ending to a trying evening

Trip Start Mar 12, 2011
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Rigs Home - it is a hotel, promise!

Flag of Azerbaijan  ,
Friday, March 25, 2011

Left the hotel promptly, so that we werent mobbed by all and sundry. It really is quite frightening being surrounded by all those people who have not a wortd of language in common. Breakfast not included, so we were on our way before any of the hotel staff were up. However, there is a bazaar held next to the hotel, and there was already major activity setting up the days trading.
Eventually stopped off for a coffee at a petrol station. Without a common language we answered the owner's questions, whgereupon he pulled out his mobile phone (they all have them. I even saw a shepherd in the middle of nowhere talking on a mobile. I hope he wasnt talking to one of his sheep?) and called his nephew, who spoke very good English. After a lot of conversation, we agreed to visit his nephew on our way to Baku. When we came to pay for the coffee and biscuits we had requested, the payment was refused! Some of the Azeri's are incredibly polite and respectful, which is totally contrary to the crowds behaviour.

Anyway, we went quite a way out of our way to meet the nephew, Vugar, although we specified that we were not going into his town, as it attracts too many spectators. Eventually he arrived at the specified meeting point, and prioved to be a very helpful guy. Really does good to cultivate international relations.

Drove the rest of the way into Baku. When we got to the city, the satnav really did us proud. Although the maps arent all up to date, what is there helped enormously, dont know how we would have  managed without. Made our way to the old city, where we were going to look for lodging. We wanted somewhere close to the port so we can sort the customs matter out (have to be there by tomorrow.) Problems with security, which we resolved with the help of a friendly shopkeeper. When we returned to the shop to thank him (and ask more questions) we encountered some Americans (the Andrews) who are here visiting family. They gave us good advice, and offered to lead us to the British Embassy, where parking would be more secure and perhaps we can get some of our queries answered? Followed them through the Baku evening rush hour, in a car that does half the speed of the surrounding traffic - I dont recmmend it! Of course the embassy was closed when we got there, and we tried to park in the embassy reserved parking (they wont use it until Monday, so why not?)

Just then one of the guards pointed out that we were missing some wheel studs! Again! However, just then another American, Kurt Hendricks, walks by, admires the car and gets in discussion. Turns out he works for the oil companies, and if they dont have engineering connections, who does. So he and his collegues have arranged a good value hotel for tonight for us, hopefully an apartment for the rest of our stay in Baku, and tomorrow they will speak to contacts about getting replacement studs. Martin is (understandably) down about it all, but I keep pointing out that we have time on our side, and if it had to go wrong, we are in probably the best possible place for it to happen. So its not as bad as it could be, by a very long way! Oh, and they let us park the car in the oil companies' secure parking compound, so it has a guard 24 hours a day!

Mileage 209

Martin's moments:
Suffering from the mother and father of a head cold hasn't helped but the end of yesterday really wore me down.I drive through most of the cities whils Roger stays in touch with his Satnav side and both of us remain totally wound up.
Meeeting up with Vugar was refreshing yes but taught me a lesson.I didn;t go back for my coat and we should not go backwards for anything.We are here to achieve one thing only.
So - we have been rescued by the Americans.Really could not have been more fortunate under the circumstances.Will be interesting to see reaction of British Embassy staff when they return after enjoying 7 day (?) New Year celebrations.
Obviously worrying about the studs.We need a solution and not a quick fix this time. Authenticity might have to go out the window.My money is on braking strain so might have to stop doing that.All on back wheels but I suppose they are carrying most weight and there's some fissics in there somewhere.
So we are in a nice city,sorted a good value hotel for the night and have a contact who is hoping to arrange a short term let on an apartment until we both fix car and sort out ferry crossing.
Countryside coming in to Baku is very bleak-seems likes piles of soil/mud for miles around.Apparently this oil city came about when oil was discovered on surface of land.And they complained when oil was spotted under our car.Have we learned nothing?Its tomorrow now so we're off to sort the world - wish us well.

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Alison on

Good to see some pics of the local boys, where are the women? Maybe they have got the sense to get out of there. Looks like we could put the old Puch back into service!Glad you are having a few days off from driving you look a bit tired, look at those pizza eyes Martin.Good luck with the repair work and hope there is a boat going your way ,passing by soon.

Alison on

Back again- Just reading through about three days blog made me feel exhausted but here I am full of vigour after a session at the Gym, Isaacs birthday party and then home to do the mowing . You need the muscles of an ox just to get the mower over the knee deep stones, the mowings a doddle.Have noticed in the recent pictures the sky is blue,thats got to be a bonus.Have had to do a bit of warering too,whioh probably seems rediculous to you but we havn`t had a drop since you left. Good news is the Robinias and silver birch have survived the cold winter, there are signs of life!

Tim on

Guys, we are thinking of you both on a daily/hourly basis and it looks both amazing and frightening at the same time. Wheel nuts don't look clever, but if anyone is going to get it sorted, you will Martin. Total faith. Keep the spirits up....
p.s Pizza photo is a future classic....

Christopher T on

Hi Guys, sounds like you have been at max revs stress wise, sorry to hear that, and bon courage meanwhile we awoke early to the UK's just changed time, and watched Vettel have an easy win from Hamilton in Melbourne. But while you were worrying about wheel studs, the former boss of Baku, one S Russia Esq., was having his tune played from an F1 podium for the first time ever, as Vitaly Petrov got his Renault in front of Alonso, Wbber and Button on merit (!) to finish 3rd, first time ever a Russian on any international motor sports podium... good boy
Mind you, after the awful damage the Soviet era oil industry did to Baku, the muck and pollution you write about - have you seen that James Bond film with the helicopter with rotating blades underneath it, cutting up old pipelines? - maybe that GP podium may or may not have seen scenes of universal rejoicing over there...
The studs clearly need to be re-engineered - F1 tyre changes now take maximum 4.5 seconds, so cannot see why Martin, with all your racing experience, you are dithering so.... design and build, using all that good ole USA engineering equipment and skill, a nice new set spun from Cast Unobtanium, drill them out, pop in the studs and hey presto! problem solved - No?
Alison said we should pray for you in Mass, as you sounded down. Well, we did that too, as well as make all the above jokes and many more.. so I trust you are now thoroughly spiritually uplifted
With all the very best for a safe solution technically and onwards to the back of the Himalayas - your map looks terrific!!

alan ede on

Hi to you both
Your progress is looking good,re, wheel studs ,i was wondering if the hole on the center of the wheel is loose fit on the hub,and loading up the studs with the wheel being loose on the hub most probably not but just a thought, if its possible can you drill between the stud holes and have extra bolt throught wheel and tap the hub, only if the wheel at that point is face to face with the hub face if that makes sence,you most probably have thought of every way possible includeing this one ,I lick you idea of finding the good hotel ever now and then this would be the only way i would keep my sanity if i was there,Your progress is incredable hope you manage to keep it up.

Jemma on

For some reason I am not allowed to comment next to your photo, but Dad is that a new jacket I spy???You seem to have the Old Redmond dog tired eyes going on. I think the rest in Baku has come at a good time and well deserved. You are making good progress what with battling with the weather and road conditions.
I have a tale about 2 men, a bag of peanuts,a police car and a stan country which will hopefully make you ordeal not seem so bad.
It seems that police like to scare the b'jesus out of travellers. I have 2 friends who were merry walking round being tourists, the next minute they were bundled into the back of a police car and driven off. Like you after much non-understanding conversation they were offered nuts to eat. Feeling this may be a test they ate them, this was fine except one was allergic. His thoughts were I either die of nuts or offend a policeman and get shot. Like you after what seemed like an age and an increasingly swollen tongue they were dropped off at the same point and given the peanuts to take with them!!!Lets just say the rush for adrenaline was worse than the car journey!!They are both alive and well and still non the wiser.
You both are constantly in my thoughts. The journey may seem more of a challenge than a joy but you are bringing a smile to many a people and inspiring those who maybe are not happy travellers to contemplate being daring. Look after yourself and get the Irish stories following with you new friends.

Alan on

Hi again ,another crazy idea this morningwhen next you drive you open top coupe-de-stanley maybe you could give a thought to some "Old british classics as in Land rovers" built like tanks or the equivelent in russian or japanes to help with small set back with wheels, just one more as i say crazy idea from some one that has never had a go at trials or Rallying.
Best to you both

Mike & Anne Horgan on

Only just got you blog address from Nigel Jewers. I hope you've got the wheel studs and are now well on your way. Hope the head cold is improving.
Keep the car running we're rooting for you (if that's how you spell it)
I presume it was you that asked to join my Skype contacts under MartinRedmond 3. Which I have accepted. Maybe, if so, we could make contact some time.
Mike and Anne

Sheila Young on

We are very glad you guys found even more Americans to help you out. We were glad to help and will be following your journey. All the best to you!
Sheila Young and the Andrews Family from Baku

charlesandliz on

I am most impressed by the story so far of your incredible journey and by the size of that enormous pizza! I hope that you managed to eat it all! At least the blue skies would seem to indicate an end to the pain of hand cranking the windscreen wipers - long may the rain hold off. Good luck with wheel studs. I suppose if you need five for each wheel but have lost three, you could perhaps get by with four on each wheel for a bit? I'm sureyou have worked this out already! Good luck

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