July 30, 2010

by Stephen Jan in BECSKE, HUNGARY

We set off from Czechout shortly before noon but only after half an hour of our usual spinning around in circles completely lost, attracting stares from the locals, and trying to recount where exactly we bumped into those drunken Czech teens who vigorously offered directions the night before. Our conversations with other teams both at Goodwood and Czechout suggested to us that the ambulance, while impressive, was woefully underprepared to haul four bodies 10,000 miles to Mongolia. The rear compartment was stuffed with extra luggage that belonged in a Paris apartment that never materialized, the sleeping areas consisted of two slivers of floor space and the one stuck to sleeping in the front had to contort himself around the parking brake, steering wheel and that most annoying 2 foot gap between the two front seats.

We stopped in Prague to regroup from the grueling 15 hour sprint from Paris to checkout. Our checklist of items to cover included reorganizing, renovating our sleeping area, and gathering necessities like beer and chocolates. We also reprinted our misplaced 6 week itinerary from google docs. Without it, the 6 week journey could very well turn into 14 weeks like it did for one team last year. Prague was much like other western European cities though the locals did not hesitate to tell us when we went down our list of languages ( English, French, German, Spanish, and Chinese) “in Czech we speak Czech”

The next stop on the map was near Budapest, where we had friends camping out in a small town called Beksce. On the way, we stopped briefly at Ivan not too far from Bruno to drop off luggage and taste some local cuisine.

As the night settled in, we took a moment to appreciate the red sun setting to a field of sunflowers before preparing to endure the next five plus hours night driving.

We reached a deserted Budapest, crossing the Danube at 1am in the morning. As we searched for the M3 we were thrilled to spot an ambulance parked in front the post office decked out with mongol rally decals. Despite the late hour and empty streets we got stares everywhere we drove . One car pulled along side, signaled for us to rolled down the window. They beemed us a huge grin, gave us the thumbs up, and drunkenly shouted what sounded like “viva ambulance!!!”.

We eventually found our way out of Budapest and the tiny road toward Becske. We spent hours fumbling through the dark unlit Hungarian rural countryside where every sign seems to point to a city not on our map. At one intersection we honestly tried driving down every single direction at least once. We eventually found the right path by asking a passing tour bus loaded with confused looking senior citizens. The driver told us to take a left toward Ikad which of course was not on our map.

Once again we arrived at the party in typical New York style: fashionably 6 hours late.

-Stephen the adventure ninja