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Mongol Rally, Day 8: A smashing bad time

Posted by on August 2, 2011

The Nissan Micra, smashed by a Volvo in Romania, is totaled. (Leon Logothetis / Special to the Los Angeles Times / August 1, 2011)

“What fates impose, that men must needs abide: it boots not to resist both wind and tide.” -William Shakespeare

It is with acute sadness that I write this.

Steven Priovolos, my friend and cameraman, and I had about a 625-mile drive from Budapest, Hungary, to the capital of Moldova, Chisinau, on the next leg of the Mongol Rally, the 10,000-mile road trip from Britain to Mongolia. After 12 hours on the road, we found ourselves in the leafy Romanian town of Campulung Moldovenesc .  Fate that would determine the course of our adventure intervened, with nearly fatal results.

As dusk approached we were driving on the main road and a black Volvo 4X4 veered toward us from a side street. The driver was speeding down a one-way street the wrong way,  then careered onto the main road.

Our little Nissan Micra didn’t stand a chance.

Steve’s quick reactions meant the full force of the Volvo slammed into the front of the car, not the passenger side where I was sitting. Had he not done that, I would not be writing this blog.

When the dust settled, an eerie calm descended.  Our car was destroyed. I mumbled for Steve to call an ambulance when I felt a shooting pain up my chest.

I was whisked away to the emergency room where they calmed me down and took X-rays. I was kept under observation for a few hours. The doctor insisted I stay overnight. I insisted otherwise.  I released myself, and we found a local motel to recover in because the X-rays showed no lasting damage.

The car was not as lucky.

With morning came the realization that our journey was done. Our brush with death was a sign that fate had other plans for us. Reaching Mongolia was not one of them.  With a heavy heart, we have abandoned our goal: of Britain to Ulan Bator, with more than 400 other teams. Steve will  travel to London, and I am heading to Vienna to receive a thorough checkup.

We are lucky to be alive.

Coming next: What I learned from my summer vacation.

7 Responses to Mongol Rally, Day 8: A smashing bad time

  1. Elle

    Oh my goodness! It’s a shame your journey had to end like this. I am so glad that you seem to be okay.

  2. Robert Tolmach

    Oh, Leon! I’m so sorry to hear of your accident, but so relieved you are OK. That IS the important part. More adventures await.

    best wishes

  3. Sandi McKenna

    Leon … I’m so sorry to hear this. I know what an awesome adventure it would have been. Thank goodness you are safe paving the road for many more amazing adventures in your futures.
    Wishing you safe travels always,

  4. Dan

    Leon, you may recall interviewing a couple of ’09 vets at Czechout and we mentioned ‘near death experiences’?

    Er, well, that’s the sort of thing we were talking about! Sorry to hear your Rally is over mate, but at least you and Steve are ok. That’s the main thing.


  5. marcus mcgilvray

    Dear Leon,

    So sorry to hear the news but glad that you and your friend are OK. You don’t know us but we are also taking part in the rally – in as Nissan Micra – so there is a bond! We’re further up the road, Ukraine but if you’d like to travel with us then we can chuck some gear out and make room somehow.

    Cheers Marcus & Danny

  6. Aigerim Duiseneyeva

    Leon, so sad your adventures had to come to an end! But I am glad that you are safe and thanks to Steve for being such a great driver. Driving in those countries is tough, from what I remember…. Hope your checkup in Vienna goes well! You should meet up with Yolanda in Prague ;)

    Aigerim and Shana

  7. eva hamori

    Excellent adventure with a surprising ending.

    Your journey veers but the adventure continues
    Glad you are fine.

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