Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
11/24/22 6:17 a.m.
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) :

Thanksgiving donation incoming. I'll hit you again for Christmas.

Got it, sir!  Thank you very much!!

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
11/24/22 7:28 a.m.

Ok, I call this "Ode to Ousseye".

So there I was...  Back before covid, back before Ukraine, back before the world as we used to know it ended and we inherited this dystopian future, Mrs. Hungary had entered the 4-Runner into the Budapest to Bamako 2022 Rally as a 40th birthday present to yours truly.  Unfortunately the world fell apart shortly thereafter, and perhaps fortunately the Rally was delayed until October so we could do everything we've been able to do so far.

But eventually, even the Bamako rally caught up with the world and on October 20th, I was off to participate.  What followed was easily one of the most miserable experiences of my life, and to say I was "anxious to get home" would be the understatement of the century.  Don't get me wrong, when we're all sharing beers later then this will make for some excellent stories.  But after spending over 2-weeks hearing nothing but Slovakian, dealing with African heat in a truck without AC, African scams at borders, mechanical failures, team failures, mental breakdowns, mechanical breakdowns, multiple nights spent sleeping on the side of the road in Guinea, getting ran out of town by an angry mob in southern Senegal... well, lets just say I was anxious to be north of the Senegal border and on my way through Mauritania before the crossing closed.

Now I knew the way the GPS was taking me wasn't the same way I took south, but I could see that the road I was on would connect with the road I needed, just a few short kilometers ahead.  I also know it wasn't a good idea to travel alone, but I had a deadline and the guys I was traveling with kept INSISTING on stopping every day at 1600...

So I had my foot down and was headed for the border like it was going out of style
 



Eventually the road started to narrow.  I'm more than a few clicks north of St. Louis Senegal now, and I'm more than a few clicks beyond the last point where I thought I'd be able to turn around.  So when the trees got narrow, instead of reversing back 2 or 3 kms, I decided to drive right over them.

To the left of this raised causeway of a road is deep standing water (I assume salt water), and to the right is a lake bed that hasn't completely dried.  In fact, it's rather muddy and I'm sure if I attempt to go in it then I'll immediately get stuck.

The hubs aren't in, as I was anticipating nothing but city driving and pavement from here north, but 4-wheel drive isn't really needed at this point as the road is flat and the bushes/trees that do get in my way are easily trampled.

I'm about half way to that road I need to be at, and there's about 30-minutes remaining before that border closes.

Things are getting REAL narrow now.  I'm thinking that I need to turn around.  Branches are scraping down the side of my truck and I've already knocked off the passenger mirror.  Just up ahead and to the left there looks to be a clearing.  If I can just break through this last section of overgrowth, I just might be able to do an Austin Powers style 20-point turn around.  I'm so focused on that clearing that I didn't even see what was directly in front of me.

BAM! right through the trees and into the mud the truck slides.

Without the hubs in, the back wheels spin for just a split second before I can catch myself, but now the tires are completely clogged with clay and buried in the mud.

Engaging the fronts at this point has no effect and only serves to further slide me into the muddy lake bed.

When I get out, I notice the last blast through the trees has completely knocked my light bar off, along with my passenger side mirror.  Hours pass as I try unsuccessfully to bottle jack the truck in the air and stuff the sand tracks underneath the tires.  nothing works.  Eventually I realize the sun will be setting soon, and I'm well beyond any hope of assistance.  No idiot is going to risk damage to their vehicle to get as far out here as I did, and I dont have any of their contact info even if I had wanted to call them.  I record the following video:

 



I put anything of value in my backpack.  Passports, money, anything I need to travel, and anything I cant replace (the duck from the dashboard also goes in).  I'm also carrying things for my old teammates.  They were counting on me to get them their stuff back when I returned to Europe, and I still intend to deliver (it's not their fault I'm stubborn and stupid).  I grab that stuff as well.  I call Mrs. Hungary on the satellite phone and completely melt down. 

The truck was supposed to get Christmas to children in Dnipro.  The truck was supposed to get handed down to my youngest.  I was supposed to take care of it, and it's dead now because I was too stubborn to turn around when I realized this was a stupid thing to do.  I was so focused on getting to the border before it closed, it never dawned on me that it wouldn't do me any good if I never got there at all.

and that's how I left it.  Closed up, keys in it, and on foot.  I had room in my bag for exactly 2-changes of clothes.

I pass one person a few kilometers down the road and continue with nothing more than an "assalamualaikum".  Shortly thereafter, I ditch one of the heavier bags in the bushes.  It's too hot and I'm too exhausted to carry everything.  Sorry guys, I tried.   I make a note of what's being left, and decide I'll purchase replacements for my teammates at Decathlon when I get back.

A few more km's down the road, I see cattle being herded by two men who look to be in their 20s.

"assalamualaikum"

(One of them replies in Arabic, but I'm too exhausted to even try to understand)

"Minfadluka habibi, enna Ameriki"  (Please dear, I'm American)

"Oh, so you speak English then!"  He says.

"yes, but why do you?"

"I'm an English teacher, and you look lost.  Or broken"

I explain that I'm both.  I'm part of the rally, but I had to ditch my truck.  It's beyond help, and I need to figure out how I'm going to get back to Europe.  I can fly if I can get to an airport, or I have some friends at a camp nearby called "Zebrabar", but either way I need a hotel.

We talk a bit more about the truck, why it's important, why I'm alone, how the St. Lous airport has been out of commision for some time, how I'll need to cab it to Dakar, and eventually he takes me to the Imam's place where he draws me water from the well.

"I think I can help you.  Why don't you come back to my house, bathe, eat, and while you do that I can call a friend with a tractor.  We can pull your truck out"

I'm doubtful, but I recognize a crossroad when I see one.  If I stay to pull the truck out, I lose my ride possibility with the teams at Zebrabar.  If I stay, there's still a chance we wont be able to recover the truck...   No decision I've made this trip has gone well, but what do I have to lose at this point?  I figure the absolute worst case, I can always catch a cab to Dakar and fly from there.  With that, I decide to stay.

We go back to his place and they give me more water.  His name is Ousseye, and I get to meet his family.  His father, his wife, his baby boy, his brothers, his sisters, and even his grandmother.  It's a lot to take in.  Eventually he gets his friend with the tractor on the phone, and we agree that for 50k of the local currency, he'll pull me out.

I'm still doubtful, but I accept.  I mean it's going to take a big tractor to do this...

Around 8:30pm we get a cab and drive to the other end of the road I'm stuck on.  We walk in from there.  First thing I realize, is there was no way I was ever getting through this road.  I got stuck in the easy bit, what was further ahead would have absolutely destroyed the truck (and no, there were no opportunities to turn around).

The tractor gets in around 9:30 and between then I was able to walk back down my path and pick up everything I had left behind.  I had also left the key on in the truck's ignition and the battery was almost completely dead (I wanted to leave it with the key, incase someone rescued it in the future then they would be able to drive it).  Thank god the engine fired off when it did, because I don't think the starter had another turn left in it...

The tractor driver doesn't even bother with the trail.  He plops his GIGANTIC New Holland T6050 tractor down into the mud and drives parallel to the road until we get to the truck.  The darn thing doesn't even care what the terrain looks like, it just drives like it's its job. 

I have an inertia rope, and a tow rope and it takes both tied end to end to give us the length we needed to tie the two together (there's a small body of water between truck and tractor).

Once hooked up though, the tractor tugs me out like I wasn't even there.  The mud turned out to be an easier obstacle than I had previously predicted.  Once free of the water hole I fell into, I can drive just fine in 4wd behind the tractor and eventually we clear everything.

From there we all celebrate.  The guys were all happy to help, and I am absolutely ecstatic to have my truck back in my life.  I pay the tractor drive 75k, the taxi driver 10k, and each worker 10k.  Everyone is happy.

 

 

Ousseye invites me back to his place and that's where I spend the night.  We buy some "pizza" on the way home (triangle looking pastry with pickles, some sort of meat, and ketchup in it), and that's what we have for dinner.  I take a bath in a bucket, and by  5am the next day we get up and it's time for me to be off.  The truck is still hurt, but she'll make the run.  I can fix things when I get back.

I have a survival bracelet on my left wrist that I take off and give to Ousseye.  It's the paracord variety with the whistle and little button compass.  My eldest bought it for me incase it would save me on my adventure.  I figure since Ousseye saved me, maybe he could use the bracelet incase he ever gets "stuck".  We exchange numbers and we're still in touch on whatsapp.  I plan on sending him something nice from Hungary for all his help (although, I don't know what I could possibly send him that would be equal to everything he's saved).

Anyhoo, I don't know who in the universe put a cattle herding Senegalese English teacher, some umpteen kilometers north of St. Louis, Senegal on a dirt road that had no landmarks or destinations on the other side, who also just happened to have a friend with a GIANT-ass New Holland 6050 tractor on speed dial...  but damn I'm sure glad they did.

So here's my Ode to Ousseye in Senegal.  Without that man and his absolute insistence on helping a lost foreigner who had completely given up on his own situation, then nothing we see after this would have been possible.  I really don't know how I'll ever be able to repay him, but he saved a lot more than an old 4-Runner that day...

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
11/24/22 7:59 a.m.

For reference, here's how the truck looks after her run through Africa and back (taken in Mauritania, shortly after the story above)


VikkiDp
VikkiDp New Reader
11/24/22 9:35 a.m.

Ohhh my Goood!!! Maaan!!!

This story made me cry - you really are crazy lucky man! Very lucky!!!


oh, baby crying

VikkiDp
VikkiDp New Reader
11/24/22 9:42 a.m.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!!  Thanks you all and best my wishes!!! 

84FSP
84FSP UberDork
11/24/22 10:07 a.m.

Holy Carp that is impressive sir.  I may be stating the obvious here but, have you noticed that good humans have good luck and get cared for by other good humans?  Fantastic story that you'll appreciate after you get done being annoyed by it.

VikkiDp
VikkiDp New Reader
11/24/22 10:17 a.m.

In reply to DarkMonohue :

Aaron thanks for your advice - i noted a few points and added them to my list of needs wink

Since yesterday we've already had an experience of being without electricity, water, warmth, mobile and data services. And it hasn't been restored everywhere.

Well, normal flight - keep calm and stay strong yes

The water is warmed by candles fire cheeky

 

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
11/25/22 7:25 a.m.
VikkiDp said:

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!!  Thanks you all and best my wishes!!! 

Thank you Vikki.  I wish all this had never happened at all, but this year I'm thankful that we're all together and able to do something to help.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
11/25/22 7:28 a.m.
84FSP said:

Holy Carp that is impressive sir.  I may be stating the obvious here but, have you noticed that good humans have good luck and get cared for by other good humans?  Fantastic story that you'll appreciate after you get done being annoyed by it.

man... like I said.  I'll never know the process that put that man in the middle of my path but I'm glad it did.  As soon as that truck was free, i was light as a feather.

When it's my turn, I'll be sure to pay it forward. 

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
11/25/22 7:36 a.m.
VikkiDp said:

In reply to DarkMonohue :

Aaron thanks for your advice - i noted a few points and added them to my list of needs wink

Since yesterday we've already had an experience of being without electricity, water, warmth, mobile and data services. And it hasn't been restored everywhere.

Well, normal flight - keep calm and stay strong yes

The water is warmed by candles fire cheeky

 

do you need a gas camping stove or anything?  Sarah and I have an extra we might be able to bring with us to Dnipro.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
11/25/22 9:12 a.m.
VikkiDp said:

Sending the deliveries (part 2)

Note (for Bill only)

About windows and others … it's good that we can laugh and joke about it now

I understand that before and during the trip you were not laughing

Maaan! Are you serious?

You’ve driven a couple thousand kilometers through the unfamiliar country at war without knowing a single word of Ukrainian or Russian (“spasibo” don’t count) ALONE – I’m still wonder how you did it smiley

And are you worried that a few raindrops might bother me? Oh, come on!

Answering all your questions – all what you were worried about – absolutely NO problem – ABSOLUTELY!!!

I was glad to go with you on the truck and if it was necessary to go further and longer – it’s ok, no problem

Reliable wheels, good company, some coffee, tea and water and i can go anywhere smiley

You better tell me what you were thinking when I dragged you to take the photo and the truck was left standing on the curb with opened windows laugh

 

This is not the end of the story - I'm off to write final chapter smiley

 

 

Well, i must say that it didn't happen all at once.  I had a couple trips to Lviv under my belt and everyone I ran into was so helpful I decided to push further.  I'm glad I did, because everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) I ran into has been nothing but friendly and helpful.  My favorites were when I ran into a spanish speaking Ukrainian at a hotel in Lviv, and when I ran into an english speaking Ukrainian at a gas station in the middle of Ukraine. 

The gas station cashier LOVED the note I had made up (so I could purchase fuel) and went around showing it to EVERYBODY.  We had a great laugh over that, and it was a lot of fun.  laugh

Open windows?  Absolutely no problem.  I wasn't worried in the least!  By that point I had left the truck in so many places with the windows down, I wasn't at all worried about the truck.  But I would like to spend more time down on the walk by the river.  That was an absolutely beautiful area! heart

I really can't wait until all this is over and I can take my whole family to visit.  I tried to get my kids to go with me to Lviv, but they're still a bit afraid (which I can understand).

Soon though.  Very soon.

java230
java230 PowerDork
11/25/22 10:24 a.m.

Wow just wow Bill. I have to say, it will be something you will never forgot. 

 

Is there more write up somewhere I missed? 

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
11/27/22 2:13 a.m.

In reply to java230 :

I've got a couple notebooks of scribbles I'm hoping to translate into a thread in the adventure log.  I'll give ya a shout when I get around to getting that started. 

Related note:  When I was signed up for the B2b, I did TONS of looking around online and found exactly zero writeups about people's trips.  I did find a good handful of highlight videos and shorts on youtube, but I could not fathom why there wasn't a blog somewhere that detailed the whole thing...  I get it now.  It's just so dang much, you really cant capture it all.  Hopefully I can slap something together that does it justice.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
11/27/22 2:16 a.m.

Guys, we got our EKG on order! 

If my info is correct, this will up the count of EKG machines in the area by 100%.  Being portable units, the machines we're bringing can be lent out to other locations in the area as needed.

 

Now please excuse me while I anxiously wait by my front gate for the DPD delivery man laugh

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
11/28/22 7:27 a.m.

Ok, happy Monday everyone!  Good news this week.




Starting from the top, we hit our million HUF goal for our Kisgorbo shelter!  Money is on its way to my account and I should have it out on time this month.  I'm sure Mayor Kozma will be stoked to see it!

In that spirit, we're carrying a surplus in our Kisgorbo account (66,025 forint).  I currently have it listed in our section for the Dnipro drive, but might move that to Ira's efforts depending on how things go and how we're doing with the purchase of gifts for the kids.  It's been a while since we've done an Ira donation, and I'd like it if she got a friendly reminder that we're out here and still thinking of her.

On to the big stuff!

Our GFM drive is over $2000!!!!!

We've already spent $1000 of this on the EKG machine, and are now waiting for the list of gift ideas for the kids to get started on those.  Once we get the first gift for each child, we'll move on to the purchase of the UV disinfectant lights before we come back and purchase the second gift for each child.  Donations have kind of slowed, but I think that was due to the holiday weekend.  We've already seen a balance increase of about 10% today and I'm hoping the trend continues.  Locally we've received about 300,000 in cash donations, and I just got permission to distribute collection boxes around the office (which I've already done).  So fingers crossed there.

Of course, the balance of our GFM doesn't reflect the bag of stuffies we have, the soccer balls still in our basket, and the box of baby blankets that's arrived (one more expected).  I think all of this is going to come together and make something pretty amazing.

Vikki reports that she's reached out to all the parents, so that's going good.  And both she and I have been in contact with the distributor of the UV disinfectant lights in Kyiv, so they're up and standing by for us as soon as we're ready.

aaaand, yeah!  All good news today!

Thanks everyone!!

 

VikkiDp
VikkiDp New Reader
12/1/22 5:42 a.m.

Hi everyone! Have are you doing? 

I don't always have the opportunity to be here, but December's drive work in progress smiley

do you need a gas camping stove or anything?  Sarah and I have an extra we might be able to bring with us to Dnipro

I think it can  be needed and useful yes Thanks heart

VikkiDp
VikkiDp New Reader
12/1/22 6:57 a.m.

I really can't wait until all this is over and I can take my whole family to visit.  I tried to get my kids to go with me to Lviv, but they're still a bit afraid (which I can understand).

Soon though.  Very soon.

Ohhh, how i wait for this!!! I believe that  it'll be over very soon and i would be happy to see you and all your family in Lviv and Dnipro  and to show you many interesting places. I've been to Lviv many times and love this city so much.

But now is really not the best time to get the boys with you.

By the way do you know that there's a sister of the statue of Liberty in Lviv?  Her name is Thriftiness. See?

How about celebrating the victory in Lviv? 

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
12/1/22 7:50 a.m.

Embarassingly enough, I have visited the Statue of Liberty AND Lviv and had no idea that existed surprise

100% in for celebrating Ukraine's victory in Lviv.  You let me know the date, and we'll see how many forum members we can get in the area laugh

VikkiDp
VikkiDp New Reader
12/3/22 6:29 a.m.

100% in for celebrating Ukraine's victory in Lviv.  You let me know the date, and we'll see how many forum members we can get in the area laugh

Wooowww!!! that's a wonderful idea!!! I like it!!! 

Waiting for the Victory yes 

VikkiDp
VikkiDp New Reader
12/3/22 6:31 a.m.

Today is my Birthday smiley

The main thing that i wishing is the peace in Ukraine and in the whole world heart

Everything else we can handle yes

I have many plans and many dreams for my life – I wish to make them come true!

Let me tell about one of them blush

I've been dreaming of going to Manowar(this is the one of my favorite band) concert for a long time

2019 – planning to do it in 2020 because they’re going to arrive to Europe!!!

2020 - C-lockdown… hmmm… okay… wait…

2021 – still wait… but maybe…

2022 – WAR…  I’m crying…

2023 – what else? Who knows?...

So congratulate me and wish me something good!!!

Wish us all PEACE!!! Wish you all that all your dreams come true!!!

DarkMonohue
DarkMonohue HalfDork
12/4/22 2:27 p.m.
VikkiDp said:

Today is my Birthday smiley

I'm sorry I missed this yesterday - we had kind of a busy day with the kid, so this is a day late, but anyway...

З Днем народження! 

We have all had to put plans and dreams on hold for a few years now, but nothing like what Ukraine is going through.  It won't last forever, and from what we are seeing, this winter will be decisive. 

Thank you for joining our community and keeping us informed. We breathe a sigh of relief when you post because it means you are still safe and still connected. I know I speak for all of us here when I say that we are all wishing you peace, every single day.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
12/5/22 10:00 a.m.

In reply to VikkiDp :

Happy Birthday, Vikki!!!

We're wishing for peace, but bringing a camp stove.  We're hoping it'll heat your water faster than the candles did.

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
12/5/22 10:22 a.m.

In reply to VikkiDp :

Happy Birthday!!

84FSP
84FSP UberDork
12/5/22 10:45 a.m.

Happy birthday Vikki!  We are all pulling for you guys to toss out the remaining invaders!

Driven5
Driven5 UberDork
12/5/22 12:19 p.m.

Happy (Belated) Birthday!

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