Overtaking lorries, in a one litre Nissan Micra with four blokes in it and a heavy trailer behind it, the size of the car itself, is a skill. A skill we haven’t totally mastered yet, as various screams throughout the day have underlined.
Therefore, the whole car was cheering when we overtook three lorries and two cars in one fell swoop – our record so far. Not only that but whilst going uphill! We were seriously impressed with ourselves and congratulating our driver William Benjamin Shaw for almost a couple of seconds. Until we saw the Russian traffic cop, standing at the side of the road waving us down.
Obviously the officer couldn’t speak any English, although he was quite adept at pointing at the ‘No Overtaking’ sign he was standing next to. Isn’t it clever how some road signs truly transcend all languages and cultures?
John bravely stepped up as interpreter and negotiator. John’s ranking in the team had been very high at the start of the trip. Not only is he an actual chef, he had half a ton of cooking gear with him, with which he’d been knocking us up some amazing culinary delights.
Unfortunately, John’s popularity in the team plummeted though, when the red car (containing all his cooking gear) didn’t make it into Russia. As he doesn’t have anything to cook with, it means we have been living off Russian service station food for the last few days – not good. This was his chance to redeem himself within the group.
Flicking through the phrase book, he tried to come up with the most appropriate phrase he could-after we had been caught overtaking five vehicles, in a no overtaking zone. His explanation to the officer – “мы будем Монголией” – in what was, almost certainly, unintelligible Russian with a slight Geordie twang – “We are going to Mongolia”
Funnily enough, the officer didn’t look very impressed with John’s annihilation of his mother tongue. However, realising communication with the cultural attache from Stockton-on-Tees was going to be futile, he eventually just waved us on. John has redeemed himself again as being useful.
Basically that was the highlight of todays tour of Russian motorway service stations. A day surprisingly enough, driving east through Russia to another Russian sounding place, for twelve hours. Well, technically fourteen hours as some how we managed to cross two time zones today.
So far we have travelled across nine counties, four time zones and around 3,300 miles and we are not even half way there yet. Rather amazingly, we are still ahead of schedule. I’m getting that feeling that something is due to go wrong again soon…