Back on land again

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

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Where I stayed
Turkmenbashi hotel

Flag of Turkmenistan  ,
Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Having been told that we would be landing "Sometime tomorrow morning" we went to bed hopefully. Thankfully Martin heard them weigh anchor at about 2.30am and woke me around 3.00 to tell me that we were approaching the port. About 1km away. We got up and started to get dressed when one of the crew came to the room and told us to hurry, hurry! So we took some stuff to the car and returned to the lounge with the remaining stuff to wait with the other 12 or so passengers. And wait. And wait. What the hurry was, no idea. 
Eventuarry they showed us our passports, amde us sign something and told us to go to the vehicles without the passports.Where we waited. The ship was in dock, the hold doors open, but nothing was moving.Then about 6.30 the first HGV was told to start, and shortly thereafter we drove off. The car seemed to run a bit better than previously, so hopes were high.Into the Customs area, and we went into the Customs Post. As we didnt have the original of the Letter of Invitation, they phoned Mr Batyr (our guide, who had been waiting for 3 days for us) to come and help us through the formalities. So we waited again. Eventually he pitched up, and the process started. Visas. Documents prepared, so go to the Cash desk and pay. Then come back and collect them. Then Motor matters, insurance, importation etc. Documents issued, so go to the cash desk and pay. However it was now 8.30 and the shifts change so she couldnt issue the receipt. So wait until 9.15 when the new person comes on duty. Then get the papers, take them to 2 other offices to get them counter stamped, and off to customs. More paperwork, more payments (at the cash office) more counterr stamping, and eventually we were escorted  to the car so they could search it. Well, the advantage of the car is that they havent a clue where to start, so they looked at the engine, the wooden fascia, the padded suin roof, and marvelled at the car. Eventually we were allowed out into the real world.As we get to the main road, a ploiceman, who had seen us come out of customs, flags us down to check the papers. We drive off again, and a mile later another policeman flags us down, same thiing. What a pain. Eventually at the hotel, about 2.30. We have a snack for lunch, and then look at the car which has not been running smoothly. Drain off the remains  of the suspect petrol, adjust the float in the one carb, do a load of other things, and eventually we are satisfied, so its in for a shower, at last we can be clean.
Martin's measured moment:In all the to-ing and fro-ing at the import place,which I'd have to say although long-winded was quite professional,young Mr.Batyr who revelled in the reflective glass,forgot to point out to Customs that we were actually going into Turkmenbashi before going on to Ashgabat.Had he not gone back to get the paperwork corrected we would have ended with a significant fine.More money to pay.I suspect he was working something out to pay for the fine he had received for smoking in a government building.Why measured (above) ?Well car is not running at all right and I'm not entirely sure its the bad fuel.Even if not the fuel ahead of us is significantly worse than that behind so we're looking down the barrel of a gun.I'm going to take Roger for a coffee and talk through alternatives.Be back in about an hour  I'm back and what we talked through were escape strategies,something we had only veered away from previously.By the structure and timing of our visas,driving back would not be possible so the only way is forward or to take the car off the road and part company with it for a while.A bit drastic but a solution if needed.So I have suggested that we make every attempt to get to Ashgabad tomorrow,a long way and in part not a good road,and if car goes well after working on it today and replacing fuel keep going.If not look for a good garage to do some diagnostics and work out strategies from there.If car fixable do so,if not look for a truck to get Stanley back to EEC.So - say yet another prayer for us. 
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