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Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/19/23 1:15 p.m.

Nothin left to it, but to do it!  Here's the party




This place is wild, though I tell ya.  Not the party, but the locals.  you'll walk down the street and they'll whistle at ya.  If you don't respond they'll make kissy noises at ya.  When you do respond, they ask for money.  People will ride by on mopeds and shout  "HEY!  I love you!!!!"  It's all a bit much, and that level of unsolicited friendlyness always makes me uneasy.

At the party I've got Jack on the chat and he's got no cash.  I've hit up like 2 different ATMs at this point, and dinged each of them for the max amount I could, multiple times.  I tell him to hang on and I got his back.

I book it back to the room (through all the "hey, I love you's" and kissey noises) and grab a million out of my money envelope.  I snag a tuk tuk back and drop it on the table.  Jack's gonna have a good night.

Back at our table, it's great times.  Team India is with us, so is Bananas, and Slow-Vakia.  Much beer drinking and eating follows.  Mostly fish and french fries in the food department, and beer runs are done 6-beers at a time because of the lines (might as well get one for everyone!).

There are certificates for the finishers, and I'm sure to grab mine.  We drink until it's well after late and cheerfully walk back to the hotel.  More kissey noises from beggars, and "hey, I love you!"'s and of course  one guy who absolutely WILL NOT leave us alone  (I love you!  We are friends!  yes, we are best friends!  You are my friend and I love you!!!).    Man, I tell you what.  This bed is going to feel so damn nice after all this...

So there we are...  I survived the Budapest to Bamako 2022 rallye, and all I got was this stupid certificate cheeky  laugh


Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/19/23 1:16 p.m.


To be continued...

VikkiDp Reader
5/21/23 4:05 p.m.

Thanks for your stories - It's so great to read them in the evenings - this make me smile and puts me in a good mood - crazy adventures wink

 an eska paska to hold it all together!

Viva an eska paska!!! laugh

it seems that they are the only reason the truck didn't fall apart in this trip cheeky

I've been worried about one question for a long time - how did you get through whole Europe without turn blinkers?

It's your the best picture of the entire trip laugh ever!!!

Even the GPS is in Slovakian... 

Sorry, man, but... I laughed a lot here wink

Burreh Beach is so beautiful!!! amazing views!!!



Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/2/23 10:54 a.m.
VikkiDp said:

Thanks for your stories - It's so great to read them in the evenings - this make me smile and puts me in a good mood - crazy adventures wink

 an eska paska to hold it all together!

Viva an eska paska!!! laugh

it seems that they are the only reason the truck didn't fall apart in this trip cheekyI've been worried about one question for a long time - how did you get through whole Europe without turn blinkers?

aaaaah!  No spoilers!  But I will give you a little hint:  Those aren't actually "turn signals".  They don't blink.  They're simply side markers that light up when the headlights are on.  I never knew this until I hit a deer once back in 2003 or so (I had a 1987 Toyota 4x4).  It damaged both of those lights and the orange ones mounted in my bumper.  At the time I didn't have much money so I was buying lights two at a time.  Wanting to be as safe as possible, I bought those (the most expensive ones) first!

It didn't fix a damn thing... I still had no turn signals laugh


It's your the best picture of the entire trip laugh ever!!!

I had so much fun making jokes with that picture laugh

I couldn't help myself.


Even the GPS is in Slovakian... 

Sorry, man, but... I laughed a lot here wink

Wait for the next couple of days.  The Slovakian gets worse before it gets better wink

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/2/23 11:19 a.m.

There I was.  Freetown, Sierra Leone and exactly zero plans for the day... 

I guess we'll call this "trip +1".  There's no itinerary, there's no crowd, there's just..... nothing!

I'm up at 7am after the party and I take another cold shower in my room.  I would give just about anything for a nice, warm, relaxing shower at this point.  I still have YET to have one on this continent!

It does feel good to wake up and not be in a camp site, and to NOT have to tiptoe around to avoid disturbing people.

We had talked a bit last night and Bananas want's to go to a place called "Banana island" (for obvious reasons).  They wont head straight there though.  The idea is we will first head to a beach resort just to the south (most of the Bananas will take a Taxi) and from there they'll peel off (pun intended) and catch a ferry to the island for 2 days.  I plan it out in my head and I could probably BARELY make it back to my truck in time if I went, but ultimately I don't want to squeeze it.  I'm only supposed to take 2-days to rest before I start my drive back north.  And even then I would rather start today instead of sitting around (I tell this much to Jack over messenger, he's in the same ballpark but the hotel is very expensive and very much already paid for so he also opts to stay). 

What I decide is I'll stay at the resort without the bananas and drive back to meet Jack at the Merriot and we'll both travel north together.

Downstairs we decide to clean up the truck a bit before we enter this next chapter of our journey.  Roman is the Banana who will be staying behind with us and he helps out


Maaaaan.  Nostalgia is hitting hard.  Every item we pull out triggers another memory.  Katka's 3-euro shovel (she bought it online before the rally thinking she found a great deal on a folding shovel.  When she got it, it almost fit in the palm of her hand!).   The Decathlon "foldable organizer bin"  (which I'm still 100% positive we only bought because the two of us couldn't fold it back up in the store). 

It's a bit sad, really.

Wandering around the truck, I cant help but notice the CB antenna is bent at a funny angle...


somebody snapped the fiberglass between yesterday and today.  We think it was probably when the man decided to wash the truck (because it certainly wasn't broken when we parked)

We wander of to breakfast and Team Kangoo (the Slovakian family) is already there.  We join them and I order an "African omelette" for breakfast which just turns out to be green onions folded into a 2-egg omelette laugh

ah well.

Back in the room I lay in bed and don't move for a bit.  It's really new and really new to me to not have to constantly move and I'm not entirely sure what to do.  Eventually I pick up the phone to message Mrs. Hungary and notice I have a message waiting for me.  It's not good.  I hadn't sent anything last night because of the party and I didn't send anything this morning so I'm in a bit of trouble again.

Katka knocks and says she want's to go through the truck again, so we do.

We talk while unpacking (again) and it gets really depressing as we go.  Mostly because of all the failed hopes and dreams.  Here's some examples:

- She has this bug zapper lamp that you might have seen a couple times in photos of camp.  Back before the start I hung it off the back of the truck like a gypsy lantern and it looked so fitting, like this was our gypsy caravan.  We thought we'd hang it there when we camped (again, like we were all in a gypsy caravan) but never did.

- The foldable decathlon bin was again joked about.  Back when we bought that we were so optimistic about the trip.  When we unfolded that in the store and it quite literally burst open, we had a big laugh.  When we couldn't get it closed, Katka simply stuffed it under her arm, half zipped up, as we marched confidently to the counter, we laughed even harder.  Here it is, and now what are we going to do with it?

- we still have TONS of donations for a school that we never visited!  All these school supplies and even an iPad that we collected (and protected through the entire drive).  The bumps and bruised they survived, and the leaky roof, and all the things we did to make sure they got here and now they have nowhere to go...

- We have paints in the car for the school kids who were supposed to receive the school supplies.  our idea was to paint their hands and let them put hand prints all over the truck and we never got that chance either.

- and then there was the deflated finish line.  We went through everything and didn't even get to take that last team photo under the Budapest to Bamako podium...

It's stupid, but this whole time we were all so ready to be done with everything, and now that it IS all done we're all sad about it.

This sucks.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/2/23 11:44 a.m.

We eventually get the truck re-packed up.  Patrik wrote Katka's phone and informed her that he might have to work so Bananas might not go to Banana Island after all.

I was checking the power steering fluid when that happened, and we're low enough that I need to top up.  The problem is, I haven't seen any fluid to do so in any of the gas stations since... well... ever!  I sent out a message to the whatsapp chat, and someone in a Landcruiser has "red stuff" that he doesn't mind giving away.  I give him an ETA, but we're still waiting for that laundry we dropped off last night so we're still stuck at the hotel for the time being.

Katka is messing about on her phone and finds a school in Sussex that might be a candidate for our school supplies.  She gives them a call, and someone over there speaks english!  We jot down their address, but this won't be a today thing.

Eventually the laundry is done, Bananas exits stage left in a taxi, and Katka, Roman, and I pay our tab around 11:30am and are about to leave the hotel when Roman notices something under the truck...


It's coolant.  And worse, it's coming out of the weep hole on the water pump.


Ok.  Nothing we can do about that right this minute.  We decide we'll get that power steering fluid from the Landcruiser man and go from there.  The power steering is starting to make that "dry sound" and I dont like it.

Just up the road, we pull into Landcruiser man's hotel parking lot and get the fluid

It's one bottle of Dextron and one bottle of Type-A.  Dextron is what the truck needs, but I take the type-a as well as I figure something is better than nothing if I run into an emergency.

and speaking of emergencies, about that failed water pump:

We google a bit, and I use the ATM real quick to pull out more cash (again, three times I dinged the ATM for whatever the maximum amount is) as I figure we're going to need it for this repair.  I brought almost everything under the sun, but I most certainly did not bring an extra water pump with me.  The receptionist at the hotel doesn't know where a mechanic is so we try the Whatsapp chat, but no one has a spare pump fur us (The 4-Runner is a bit unique).  One of the teams says a mechanic chain called "Dads" is highly recommended in the area.  We look online but dont find anything.

Katka finds a shop on google maps but it has no reviews.  it IS in an industrial area though, so we figure if it's no good then we can walk from there.

We all hop in, and off we go!!!

Right into traffic...

and it's hot.

and I'm watching that temperature gauge like a hawk.

It gets to the point that I'm turning off the truck any time we're stopped.  The gauge isn't reading "hot" yet, but I have no idea how far we're going to have to limp this thing.  We're still not to Katka's garage, but I look kind of diagonal right and HOLY SMOKES!  It's a DAD'S!!!!  And it lists "Toyota" as their specialty!

We pull in and I show the first mechanic I see the issue and point to the water pump.  Then I clean off hte 22-RE sticker and I ask if they can help. 

"Ah, yes!" He says.  Then he says they can help, and it'll be 2-hours (assuming they can find a water pump for our old girl.  See?  I KNEW paying $20 to put that 22-RE sticker back on the valve cover would pay off!)

ok then.  This is what we're doing!


The man driving it into the garage isn't the same man that said he'd fix it.  I'm thinking "lot attendant" versus "mechanic" here.  I have no idea what this guys' plan was for pulling it in, but it isn't working.  Furthermore he is having the WORST time with the clutch.

Eventually he gets the truck parked where he wants it, and shuts it down.  I can smell my clutch at this point.


A crowd gathers around the truck and the mechanic peels off to come talk to me.

"sir, your clutch..." he starts

"yeah man, I  can smell it!  Listen, if I would have known it was your guy's first time driving a stick then I would have offered to park it for him!"

"but your clutch..." he tries to continue

"it's new" I interrupt (and it is.  It doesn't have much more than 6-months of operation on it) and he doesn't push the issue any further.

meanwhile, we get settled in for a long sit



Once we're settled and the water pump is removed from the truck, our mechanic tears off on a motorcycle out into traffic.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/2/23 11:57 a.m.

I peel off first.  We're going to need more cash if we're going to pay for a mechanic and I don't know what I have in my wallet right now, but it couldn't be more than $175 or $200 or so.  It just takes SO MUCH Sierra Leone cash to equal anything that you really have to completely drain an ATM to get anything of value.

setting off on foot, I follow the main drag outside the garage.  There are a couple ATMs nearby on google maps and I try them all.  None of them work.

Walking out further I can see a few more.


Walking out further...

(you get the point).

I'm easily gone for the better part of an hour at this point and have taken a few left hand turns to stay on the main drag.  ATM after ATM is met with fault after fault and none of them are the same.

Some don't work at all, some the buttons dont work, some wont communicate with my bank.

Eventually I get to one that takes my card AND my pin and then just...

That's it.  It just stopped there.

With my card in it, and my pin entered, and my desired withdraw amount, it just...  stopped there!!!!

For MINUTES on end, I just stared at that screen wondering what to do.  I know "minutes" doesn't sound like a long time when you read this, but when your card is in the machine and your truck is in the shop and you're waiting for some cash so you can walk nearly an hour back... 

oh my god.

Eventually it spits out cash and I'm left with another decision.  Go looking for a better ATM, or try this one that I know will eventually work.

Yup, I'm a glutton for punishment.  I know this one will eventually give me cash so I hit it for all it's worth.

Pockets filled to the brim with cash, I finish my last transaction and start back to the truck


CFC???  Didn't we ban those for putting holes in the Ozone layer?



Someone is having just as bad of a day as we are...


Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/2/23 12:06 p.m.

I'm back at the truck and it's been over an hour now.  No one is around it and the man on the motorcycle hasn't come back.

Katka tells me that one of the mechanics was telling her they might just replace the seal on the pump, and asked if we had one.

I'm 100% positive we do not have a bearing (not a seal) for the water pump.  I tell her (and a mechanic) as much and sit down nedt to Roman.  Then lightning hits my brain!

Inside the truck, and behind one of the side panels, I stashed a complete engine gasket set!  Maybe there's something in there that they can use.


I pull out everything "seal related" and show it to the mechanics so they'll have a reference.  They keep calling it a "carbonizer kit" and I have no idea why.  But that's not important right now, I simply set it on the driver's seat so if there IS something they can use then they know where they can find it.

Then we go back to waiting.  two hours pass, and then almost three.  Still no motorcycle.

"It's either going to be the complete pump, or they'll find the seal" they keep telling us.

We're starting to run out of water, and now the sun's moved so we're running out of shade too.  Katka and Roman decide to head out and look for food.

Out they go, and I sit on Roman's bag.  It has all his passports, etc, in it so I promise not to let it out of my sight (and I dont).

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/2/23 12:09 p.m.

Fun fact!  That engine gasket kit was actually from a Volkswagen Taro.  Apparently it came equipped with a 22R engine from Toyota, so when I went poking around Europe for replacements it's what I found laugh

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/2/23 12:29 p.m.

It was 14:30 when I got back to the garage.  Just a brief sit before Roman and Katka set off for food. They've been gone for a long time.

That motorcycle man still has not returned...

What the heck is taking so long???

at 15:30, I get a message from Katka.  It's simply a picture of the menu

No description available.

No description available.


"American burger with fries, please.  Also the chicken ceasar wrap!  Bill hungry!"  I reply

Eventually the motorcycle man returns.

He shows me the new water pump:


I don't know where in S.L he found it, but I guess it's been sitting on the shelf for so long it started to rust!

I send a message off to Katka to let them know the status update.

and then I wait.

and wait

and wait.

16:30 I send a message to Katka again "Were you guys kidnapped or is the kitchen still trying to catch and kill the cow???"  I ask

No description available.

"We're waiting for the card to work" she replies.  "and waiting for the food"

She asks for a status update on the truck and I tell her they're being slow as berk.  There are 3-mechanics on the truck and not a single wrench in sight.  I get to thinking that Julius and I need to open a 4-wheel-drive garage out here, we'd be RICH!

By 17:00 I can see that the water pump is finally making it back in.  I shoot off a message to Katka


I never get a reply, but the mechanic is talking to me now:

"Green or red coolant, sir?"


"ok, and the mix sir?"

half and half

"Got it, sir.  Thank you!"

Katka and Roman arrive immediately afterwards and I begin to eat my burger.  It's so hot out, and I'm so thirsty (we're a bit low on water at this point) that I'm probably not going to eat that cesar wrap.  Ah well.

Eventually it's time to pay and we're told we owe 4.2 million Sierra Leone bucks (I think that's about $250) and as I'm leaving our group to go pay the cashier Katka says "see if you can talk them down!"

yeah, right.  I'm not a negotiator on the best of days.  Nevermind they have all the power here.

I sit in the office forever at an empty desk before a woman finally arrives.  She tells me the price (4.2 mil) and I count it out.

Then she counts it out.

"How in the world do you manage when things cost so MUCH?" I ask

"you get USED to it" she says jovially.

and I bet you do.  But man...

What's done is done and I get a receipt.  It may have taken a while, but this was a good spot to break down.  Remembering the "driving into the garage" incident, I take the keys and hop in the driver's seat.  I sit for a second with the engine running while I wait for the gate to open and our mechanic tells me I'm not allowed to drive out, but he will for me.

"ok.  But are you going to be easier on my clutch?" I ask

he promises.

and he was.

First stop was a fuel station.  1.2-million in the tank and boy am I glad we hit every ATM for all it was worth!

Here we go, guys.  Tokeh Beach, or bust!


Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/2/23 12:56 p.m.


Man, I should have posted this map at the beginning of this day, but honestly I didn't know where we would end up so that's going to be my excuse.  Going forward, I don't know how I'm going to do the maps as I don't ever know where we're going to go, or when we're going to get there.  I want you guys to see things as I see them in the trip, and not how I look back on them now.  But I digress, "Tokeh beach or bust!"

So it's 45 minutes to Tokeh beach and there at the bottom you can see "Banana Island"

The road is all pavement except for the very end.  There's about 300-meters of dirt road and as hard as I tried to keep the truck clean, there was one puddle that we were forced to go through.  The truck is dirty again... I can't help but think that's going to be a pain in the butt if we're still planning on having kids is Sussex put their handprints on the side.

Anyhoo, we go to check in and we're told that there is one room left and one cabin left.  Each sleeps two people, but the cabin does not have a bathroom (only a bed).

"Well, I'll take the cabin" katka says.

"No, better let me" I reply

She protests and I respond with "listen.  When you get up to pee in the middle of the night, do you want to go behind a tree or in a toilet?"

"I'll take the room!" she tell Matt.

Matt is a British man who is running the counter here.  He moved down 6-years ago and is totally at peace with life.  He loves it and says he doesn't regret it a bit.  I can imagine, and I can see it on his face that he's 100% genuine.

We can charge the rooms and everything to the card, but it needs to be on Katka's card since I'm leaving a day earlier than everyone else.  This will include our bar tabs and I 100% plan on running one up.  I tell her as much but we're using an app called "splitwise" to document all our spending on this trip so things will be split equally between us in the end.

We go to our rooms and it turns out that the Bananas are Katka's neighbor.  We were kind of expecting that.

What we weren't expecting was that Lukas and Misha would be my neighbors!  It turns out that this is where those two disappeared to after we parted ways in Guinea.

Electricity here is only available between 6pm and 6am, and that includes wifi.

Time to get settled in!



The beer tap is empty, but I get a cold Mutzig and park on a beach chair.

I'm using this time to get caught up on notes and messages.  I notice that Julius has a book and is reading a few chairs down.  I decide this is a damn good idea so I get my book and another beer and join him


Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/2/23 1:02 p.m.

The sun goes lower, and so does the quantity of beer in my bottle.  Eventually it's time to return my book to the cabin and join the group at the bar.  In doing so, I walk by the DJ booth (who's just setting up to play music) and MAN do I catch the smell of weed.  Is that Matt???  laugh

No.. some other white guy in the hotel.  No idea.


I sit down and a gin and tonic is placed in front of me.  We talk about the trip for a while and it's nice to go over memories with everyone.  We talk about our running jokes, and Katka and I tell the other guys about or "Imagine Wagons" and sing "and we're driving, through the jungle!"

phone... phone... phone...

not much later the English disappears and it's all Slovakian again.  I excuse myself for the night.

Sunflowerbw GRM+ Memberand New Reader
8/13/23 9:45 p.m.

Excited to hear more when you have time!

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