DAY 33 – Byezbekistan

263 miles (4.47384 x e^-11 light years for who cares)
#Shaharisabz to #Dushanbe

It’s time to cross another border. Today we have to sadly leave Uzbekistan with all its historical beauties, and head towards the first wild part of the rally: the Pamirs. It’s not a short drive, and there’s a border crossing inbetween. We’ve have learned at this point that when there’s a border crossing, you need to plan everything with at least 2 hours delay, reason why we’re trying to rush as much as we can.

Despite the rush, we don’t resist in stopping in a small village on the way, of which we don’t remember the name, when we see its lively bazar. Here we stroll for half an hour, while everybody stares at us like we’re from another planet. Butchers seem to be particularly happy of seeing us, as they start a competition about who can show us the biggest piece of meat (please, avoid any joke on this).

With the pockets full of food, we head like rockets toward the border. Or at least, we’d like to have a rocket to reach the border, because a rocket doesn’t have wheels, while Jelly Belly does. And having wheels, sometimes, can cause problems, like having flats. This is exactly what we get while driving a little bit too fast on a massive pothole. Did we already say how shit are the roads in Uzbekistan? Now, I know that this is a special moment of the Mongol Rally, when you have the first flat, but in general it would be better to avoid such things. Especially in a country where there are vultures, as we’ll discover later on (what the hell? Were vultures supposed to be only in super-wild countries like, I don’t know, Africa?). Anyway, it’s a good chance for Ilaria to learn how to change a wheel.

Nothing much happens until the border, and the same on the other side, while we drive down to Dushanbe. Only the usual border officers willing to sign our car, making the usual questions, stamping our passports, searching the car. On the Tajik border, we have to pay a lot of stuff (taxes, mainly), and it’s hard to understand whether they are scums or real taxes. They give us back receipts with official stamps on top, so we decide that even though it was a scum, it was so well done that it was worth paying it.

Dushabe is a post-sovietic depressing dream. The area where our hostel is located is full of Mongol Rally cars. Also the mechanics of the area are full of them, so we decide to repair our bent rim at the next stopover (many of these mechanics have to work the whole night, apparently), starting the Pamir with one single spare tire. Let’s hope.

Number of countries crossed: 14
Days without accidents: 0
Number of times the counter has been reset: 3
Number of times the Jelly Belly has been washed: 1