Mongol Rally, Day 8: A smashing bad time - Leon Logothetis

August 2, 2011

Mongol Rally, Day 8: A smashing bad time

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.