Posts Tagged ‘water’

Face to face with a Cheetah

5th March 2011 by Helen

2011 03 05 (15) - Land Rover Marin - Landy set upWhat a fantastic day we’ve had today.  We’d arranged to take Landy along to the Land Rover Dealership at Corta Madera, between the campsite where we’ve been staying and San Francisco itself.  Doughnuts for elevenses and a buffet lunch helped keep us going as we talked to the many people who came through the doors during the day.  Paul had put together a video comprising footage and stills taken mainly from our Central Asian leg, which played in the background to the accompanying sounds of Mongolian Throat Music.  This is generally an acquired taste in music but somehow the beat and rhythm gets under your skin and is actually quite addictive.

The kids (and some moms and dads) enjoyed taking advantage of peeking into our bedroom (tent).   A few took our ‘ten tips for overlanding’ leaflets.  A few others wanted a peek under the bonnet when they read our sign about how we fixed the damage caused by the accident with the horse in Siberia (fan shroud made of baked bean cans and gaffer tape).  We demonstrated our hand operated water filtration system on some water doctored with some mud and grass from the campsite – and with a cheer for the parents who let their kids drink the (perfectly safe) filtered water.

2011 03 05 (7) - Land Rover Marin - Tango posing on tableWe took our turn to wander around the showroom and have a look at Tango the cheetah who had been brought in as the other half of the attraction for this Land Rover family day out.  This amazing big cat lounged on the table and periodically stretched as he was supervised by his handlers, completely oblivious of the flashing of camera lights and gaggle of people staring at him.  And this cheetah charmed us all with some very loud purring.  We learned how the cheetah is a shy animal more inclined to run away than attack, but is often lumped together with the more aggressive members of the big cat family and shot, leading to its numbers becoming dangerously low.  Tango is helping promote the development of a new cheetah sanctuary in Kenya, which we hope to visit when we reach that country.

By the end of the day we were exhausted and all talked out but happy.

Interviews, water and an amazing shop

16th August 2010 by Helen

Saturday 31st July

After a late start we hit the more touristy region of the Altai, evidenced not just by the rows and rows of souvenir stalls selling silly and not so silly hats, beach toys, and such like, but also the Bavarian style restaurant with artificial water wheel and artificial fountain outside.

After brunch at aforementioned restaurant we headed on out again, looking for opportunities to fill our on board water tank, and, seeing some people filling water bottles from a spring we stopped to see if the water was good.  A filtration plant next to it suggested it was and we were able to completely fill our water tank with safe, clean, drinking water.  In the meantime, a young man and woman stopped to speak to us.  He turned out to be a freelance professional photographer and journalist and we were interviewed in a combination of bits of Russian and English and had our photo taken.  Somewhere we may be on a Russian internet site and even in print.  We’re hoping he will email us with the link, in which case we will add it to the site.

We have found that our table, stored in the rear seating area, has caused some damage to some wiring and so are now strapping it to the roof.  This is inconvenient to say the least.  This was one of our unresolved problems before we left the UK and now we have to resolve it.  Paul has been looking out for some lengths of angled aluminium to make some better storage under the roof rack.  None to be found anywhere.  Then just as we were passing through a village I saw a sign for a shop that appeared to sell at least screws.  Stopping, we found they also sold some angled fittings, that although not what Paul wanted originally, but can be used to do the job.

An amazing shop, He had only been open for five days when we called in and was still unpacking some of his stock.  Everything was laid out neatly and he had virtually every size of screw, nut, bolt, fitting and whatnot, there is going.  A real specialist shop if ever there was one and Paul was entranced.  I really hope he does well in his business.  Before we left he gave us a signed copy of a book he has written.  It’s all in Russian, so now I have something to work on to practice my translation skills (when I’ve finished the somewhat easier children’s book, Ali Baba, which I bought in Almaty for that purpose).

Campsite – wild camping by a river in the Altai region of Russia

Distance travelled 135 km

(click individual photos to see larger picture)

Could it be terminal?

5th July 2010 by Helen

Saturday 3rd July

After the punishing 140 km round trip over corrugated roads between Aralsk and Zhalangash (and the ship cemetery), the clanking sound Landy has been making has worsened.  We are now really concerned about the next stage of our trip.  A stop on one of the many roadside ramps (for checking under cars) did not reveal anything.  Paul hanging on the side of Landy while Helen drove did not reveal anything either.  Finally, after a lengthy roadside stop checking virtually every nut and bolt Paul discovered the front shock absorbers had shed their dust sleeves and the top mountings were moving up and down a couple of inches.  Further investigation revealed the workmanship at Land Rover in Stavropol had been less than competent.  Some components had been fitted upside down and some not fitted at all!!DSC_0309

We were still very much a long way from any village or town and with a full day’s mechanical work ahead of him we needed somewhere to park where we had easy access to supplies.  We drove carefully and very slowly for another 50km until we reached a cafe where we could park for the night and Paul could correct the work on the shock absorbers the next day.

While Paul was diagnosing the cause of Landy’s alarming rattle Helen did some housework and removed the bodies of dozens of grasshoppers from the lights and radiator grill.  We had driven through swarms of them earlier in the day.

Realising that after our long day at Aralsk we were running low on drinking water and siezed the opportunity to stop when we saw a sign for a tap.  We were disappointed to find the water both brackish and oily, a result of it seeping up through oil laden strata.  However, this water is all that is available to the local families of the village, and which these children were collecting in containers to take home.  Look closely at the sand beneath their feet and the black crude oil deposit is clearly visible.