Every now and then you experience what you might call ”luck” but sometimes in between, the description ”luck” is not really sufficient to describe the events that take place. Those of you who have read ”The Alchemist” by Paolo Coelho know what I’m talking about.
Let me give you a short status update. At the moment we are in Istanbul, a city of millions with one half in Europe and the other half of the city in Asia. If Farawayistan really had existed, Istanbul would have been the capital. The turkish language has not a thing in common with the latin based languages so we could just as well have been analphabets. The majority of the few people who know English is mainly occupied with selling expensive carpets to blue-eyed tourists in the bazaars. I know these are prejudices but I allowe myself to say them because today I got rid of a few.
In this chaos we have to find a workshop who knows Land Rovers by heart to be able to determine what to do with our gearbox, which after the engine is the most vital part of the car. We suspected that something was seriously wrong and we were worried that we had to have a new gearbox. Our biggest concern was that some dodgy car mechanic would see his chance to some easy money and put in an old typewriter that would last until he was out of reach. Then we would really have been in some deep…dirt.
Amazing garage area just north of Istanbul
Thats when I remembered Ali. Ali is also an overlander and the man behind the Google Earth – GPS function on our website. Ali comes from Istanbul and should have been in Uganda by now on his journey to Africas southern cape. I sent him an email, hoping that he with a bit of luck not would be in the middle of the jungle without possibilities to answer our call for help. Were we happy this morning when there was a mail in my inbox!? Were we even happier when it turns out that Ali is back in Istanbul for a week to meet his family and to replace some stolen equipment!? Next Friday he flies back to Kampala and his Landy to continue his trip south. I mean, what are the odds?
After a phonecall he gets into his Passat and drives 80 km from his home outside Istanbul to guide us through this giant maze to an area with hundreds of car workshops just north of the city. Ali meant that it was still in the centre of the city even though we had been driving for at least half an hour. He introduced us to his good friend, who happens to be the owner of what probably is the best Land Rover workshop in Turkey. The man who used to be a mechanic for the Camel Throphy events and other 4wd rallys, only needed a drive around the block to give us the diagnose. Not necessary to replace the gearbox but it needs to be taken apart for some serious service. His mechanics quickly showed us the interior of an identical gearbox to explain where the problem was. Depending on the state of the gearbox it would cost between 500 and 1500 USD. A lot of money for our already tight budget but still less than expected. Probably half of what an official LR dealer would charge us. However, it will take a week to fix the car and until then we are stuck in Istanbul which actually could have been worse.
The X marks our workshop among hundreds of others.
When we stood there in that absurd Landy oasis in this absurd city and with an absurd amount of luck had managed to find an absurd needle in an even more absurd haystack, I felt a tremendous joy inspite the fact that we’d just found out that it will probably cost us 1500 USD to continue our trip. I realised that it is exactly that kind of experiences that makes travelling so fantastic and that will give us memories that we will tell our grandchildren over and over again. And we’re still only in Europe…
We have to thank Ali for his invaluable help and we promise that we will do the same thing, if not for him so for someone else who is in the same situation as we were today. To quote a backpackers hostel here in Istanbul – “World peace is inevitable”.