I’m usually the one stranded on the side of the road, but not this time.
We — Steve Priovolos, my co-driver, and I — were driving down a Mongolian dirt track that masquerades as a main road, and I was reminded that I am not the only chap who has a love-hate relationship with his car on this Mongol Rally, the 10,000-mile road trip from Britain to Ulan Bator, Mongolia. As I’ve mentioned — numerous times — my knowledge of cars is limited to turning the engine on and turning the engine off. Yet on this day, I found myself coming to the rescue of a Mongolian family stranded in the scorching heat of the Gobi desert.
A toothless Mongolian man waved me down. He was in a bit of a panic, which isn’t unexpected in the Gobi desert, where there are very few cars. You are basically alone. Not very comforting if your car breaks down.
The toothless fellow started frantically drawing circles in the sand trying to explain what was wrong with his car. For some reason he got it into his head that I actually knew something about cars and kept on drawing circles. Big ones. I was lost as usual, and so was Steve.
Then he took me to his car and showed me that his fan belt (I think that’s what it was) had snapped. I asked Steve if we had a spare. We did — one.
We gave it to him. We waited in the desert heat for a few hours as he fixed his car. His family watched and drank the bottled water we had given them.
Once he had completed his task, we waved goodbye and headed on our way. Our good deed for the day was done. Now all we have to do is pray we don’t need that extra fan belt