On the move again

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

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Saturday, April 2, 2011

On the move again.

This morning was one of passive waiting. Until we hear about the ferry, there's not a lot we can do. Just remain on call.
So we went down the the ferry port, and checked the car. One tyre was low  and as I attcahed the pump to it, the pump clip broke. Great, never been used and it lasts no time at all! So we changed the wheel over with one of the spares. Checked the oil level in the rear axle, and it was very low. After about 3500 miles, thats a disappointment. So we used most of our reserves of axle oil to fill it up again. Was supposed to be kept for an oil change at half way, but I guess if we are losing oil, there's no need to change it, is there? Its changing itself as we go. Checked the gear box oil, which was down a bit, but not a problem. However we discovered that the oil pressure gauge is dripping oil behind the dashboard, which is a real nuisance. Makes a mess everywhere and its going to be a real pain to fix, taking out the whole dashboard.
Started the car up, and she's still running a bit rough. Most  likely cause, we think, is the fuel might not have been 95 octane, which is a worry for the future.
Went back to the ticket office to find out whether they knew when the ferry goes,  and started buying our tickets. I had to go with one of the guys to measure the length of the car. Just then we got a call from Emin to say that we should get down to the ferry port because the ferry would leave shortly. The ticket guy thrust the money back to me saying we pay when we come back. The good news is that the price we were quoted is US Dollars, not Manet, so its about 20% cheaper than we thought.
Went back to the apartmeent and collected everything. Emin met us there and had us driven to the port, where he helped us sort the tickets. Down to the dock, whre we were left to wait.

Eventually we were called to be processed, and met Elvin, who is the port doctor, Spoke quite good english, so it was great. Got us through the proceedures. While we were waiting to load the car, he offered to get us some food for the journey. We accepted and gave hhim our last remaining Manets, a 50 Manet note. He returned with a bag of food, beef, bread and salads for us.
We also fell in with a crowd of guys (Sasha, Hans and Farihan) who have boats in the port. One has a 1938 ex-German boat which was captured by the Russians which he is doing up so he can run it. Looks like he has a lot of work ahead of him!  Their English was good enough for us to have meaningful conversations, but I still had to concentrate hard to follow what they were saying. Gave us a cup of tea and sweets, which the Azeri seem to have with their tea.
Eventually, time for loading. We said out goodbyes, annd Martin drove onto the ship. The car was really spluttering, so he didnt wait for me. Pulled into a space next to a railway truck. Its that sort of ferry.
However there was a problem with the papers, so back to the shore. Turns out we dont have the required slip of paper for something or other, and we need to pay another $20. Why do I think this is a con? Anyway, we pay and all is well.
Take our stuff and make our way up to the cabin we have reserved for us. Quite frankly, I wouldnt let a dog sleep in it. We are offered an upgrade for $20, but thats no different. Eventually settle on a better cabin for $15 (they wanted $20), and its little better. Tourists are obviously offered a zero star cabin in the hope of some supplement.

Open the bag of food, and the beef is 2 bones of dogs meat in a watery gravy, this must be the most expensive meal we've paid for in the trip and I'm not eating it. I'd rather go hungry. Nor am I sleeping in other than my full clothes, and I'm not washing. The toilet doesnt flush. Now we know why no-one we've met has ever been on the ferry. Given what we know, I wouldn't either.
However we are on our way (well, we will be once the ferry starts moving), so all is not bad.

Martin's maritime moment:
Didn't get any change in bag with food from Dr.Elvin - him a suppposed chessmaster and I trusted him.Bloke who wanted $20 for correct bit of paper never gave it to us.Babushka showed us two rooms before we negotiated down from $20 to $15 for upgrade to a hovel.So Ј35 dollars and 50 Manet lighter and we're on the worst vessel you can imagine going to a country nobody has a good word for with a broken car.There must be something good waiting for us.The babushka took the passports and I can only imagine that will also cost us to get them back.
About an hour ago a strange calm descended on me but just as I write this I can feel the tension coming back.In a way getting to cross the Caspian is an end in itself but I know we have a hell of a lot further to go.Priority must be to fix car.Roger who has kept me going all week during the lull has gone very quiet but I'm sure he will come round.He is an absolute brick. I have more or less made my mind up not to leave Turkmenbashi until we've fixed car.The further we go the harder to get back.
And to think we could have gone on a touring holiday of the Western Isles.
I think the ferry is beginning to move - difficult to tell as the oil's about a foot thick on the surface of the sea.No I'm wrong - 7 hours after being told to be prepared, there is still no sign of leaving.God help us. 

Final note: This has taken us an hour almost to post. Will update the rest whn we get an internet connection that works. If that ever happens!

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Emily on

The ferry sounds absolutely horrific! I don't envy you whatsoever. Very glad to hear from you at last

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