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Repairs in Altai

by Tyler

With the Jimny dealt with, Tara and I go driving in search of a hotel. She is feeling the aches and fatigue of impending illness, while I need a quiet place in which to work. We eventually stumble upon a nice clean hotel on the outskirts of town, complete with a working hot shower. I get right down to programming while she takes advantage of the amenities.

Returning from her shower feeling refreshed, she regretfully informs me that the hot water ran out just before she was through. She also tells me that there is an ironing room next door, and for some reason, I can't stop laughing about this. The idea of worrying about wrinkles in Mongolia strikes me as positively absurd. That is, until I remember that we've been complaining about how scrunched up our Tunisian scarves have become.

So, I spend a remarkably relaxing hour ironing in a hotel, waiting for the hot water to replenish itself. Meanwhile, Tara tries to sleep off the general malaise that is creeping over her body. Ironing complete, I return to our room, newly pressed blue and green scarves in hand. Tara admires my work and then falls back asleep as I get back to work.

A few minutes later, a Mongolian woman opens our door without so much as a knock, and without paying us any mind, walks in and begins to re-arrange pillows as I look on, confused. Then, without saying a word, the woman leaves as quickly as she came. An hour later, the same thing happens again! Strange. Maybe this is a normal practice in Mongolia?

Finally feeling like I have a handle on my workload, I kiss Tara goodbye and head down to the garage, curious to see how things are coming along with the Jimny.

This morning, the mechanics welded the Jimny's broken axle together and tried to call the job done. When they wheeled it out proudly, the camber of the rear wheels was so comically askew we were doubtful it could even be driven. We started the car anyway, feeling hopeful, but quickly discovered the rear differential was ruined.

Now, as I walk into the shop, I learn that the mechanics have realized that they simply can't repair the Jimny properly. Their proposed solution is to remove the rear drive shaft and cut out the diff. The guys will leave it in 4WD, but they'll be driving with just the front wheels. Given that the only other option seems to be abandoning the Suzuki, they've decided to go for it.

As for the LRC, the rough Mongolian roads have proven too much for the previous shoddy welding job on our exhaust. I leave our car at the garage to be welded once more. It shouldn't take very long, but I want to get back to work, so Charlie kindly gives me a lift back to the hotel.

Night is falling when I walk down to the garage to see how things are coming along. When I arrive, I am a little disappointed to discover they haven't even touched our car. One of the mechanics is busy stenciling a cardboard cover to seal the opening where the rear differential on the Jimny should be. Ahh, Mongolia.

As he starts to cut it out with a pair of scissors, I try to ask when they'll be able to work on our exhaust. He responds with a series of elaborate mimes which basically amount to: if you want this done, you're going to have to do it yourself. So I do. In the dark garage, I jack up the car, locate the crack in our exhaust, disconnect the battery, attach the welding lead, and then ask the guy working to lay down the bead.

After he is done, I start the car and my heart sinks as it fills the quiet garage with a throaty roar. There must be another crack. I'm exhausted, so I admit defeat. The mechanic assures me he'll have it ready tomorrow morning, and I head home.

The town is positively ominous at night. I can hardly walk a block at a stretch without passing several drunken men, staggering along in a blind stupor. At last I make it home safely, and there is Tara, happy to see me.