29 Aug, 2009
Posted by: Scott In: The Rally
We were stuck in the mountains, almost 10,000ft up, and it was getting dark. We had to get out of there or face a freezing night in the car. Changing from our shorts into warmer clothing, we tried flagging down the first vehicle that passed to no avail. The second vehicle did stop–we were very lucky. We explained our situation and he offered to tow us to the next town. Collin got in the guy’s car–I got our tow rope out and took our first shot at towed. Due to the bumpiness of the road it came undone pretty quickly. We tried again. Same thing. We took out our other tow rope, which had a clamp on it, and attached it to the first one. That too fel off. We tried tying them together, and it seemed to be working. The guy was driving pretty fast, and controlling the car with minimal steering capabilities was tough. After going just a few miles over extremely bad roads the wheel starting making even louder noises and our steering went kaput. I honked the horn nd signaled to stop. We couldn’t do this anymore–it was destroying the car. The wheel was basically being dragged against the car and had lost a fair amount of its tread in the process. It would be in even worse shape if we tried to continue.
We threw our most needed gear in the man’s car and drove off, leaving our car as it was, lying on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. The guy, who’s name was Viller (sp?), didn’t speak any English, so we weren’t exactly sure what he was planning to do with us. We got that the next town was 60km away, and guessed that we were going there. We drove for about an hour or so before we reached it, and he parked the car next to a plain looking house right on the edge of town. Entering the place we found a group of what looked like truck drivers all crowded into a small, dimly lit room, talking and having dinner. Everyone seemed to know Viller, and he proceeded to explain the situation we were in to everyone while we sat down and had a bite to eat. We kind of sat there while everyone conversed in Russian/Tajikistani, wondering what they were planning on doing with us. Through basic Russian and hand gestures we found out that getting our car towed would be an expensive proposition. If we wanted to be towed to Osh, the next large town, it would cost at least $500. It wouldn’t be much of a discount to be towed back to where we just came from, Khorog. Even if we were towed back there, there weren’t many capable mechanics in the town, and if we needed any parts we were out of luck. A few of the guys wondered if we would be interested in selling the car, and since we were in such a bind I threw out $1000. Two of them were interested in seems. Should have gone higher. Valler went off somewhere and we were left with the other guys for a while.
Valler came back after about ten minutes with a woman in his passenger seat. She spoke English, and he fetched her in able to see what it was that we wanted to do. Through her he reiterated the costs involved in towing and we made the decision to go back to Khorog for the night and try our luck finding a truck driver there to tow our vehicle back for repair or to be sold. Either way we had to get it back to a city somehow! The woman said that Valler was offering to take us back to the city tonight for $50 per person. I wasn’t sure why he had just come all this way just to go back to Khorog, but I did know that we didn’t have that much cash to blow on a ride back. So much for our friend Valler being a good samaritan! We told him we would just take the taxi the next day and eventually bargained him down to $20/person. It turns out that he had come to the town to pick up a friend anyway, so we were just giving him extra revenue–he wasn’t going back that night just for us. We stopped at the car to grab a few more things of value out of it and then made our way back towards Khorog. If driving the roads was bad during the day it was horrible during the night, but luckily this time we weren’t the ones driving. We were still a ways out from the city when Valler pulled over at a small guesthouse. It seems as if they were closed or full (it was already after midnight), so they just stopped there and we all slept in the car. It was pretty cold and uncomfortable in the car, so we didn’t get much rest before we awoke around 6:30AM and continued on our journey.
Pictures have been posted in the gallery.