‘’Eye of Libya’’ 29 Selworthy House, London, sw113ng
Victor was waiting fully packed and ready to go, but our Libyan visas had still not arrived after 3 weeks of waiting patiently at our computer. The Eye of Libya tour company London had promised our visas would arrive before the New Year…but that was a little optimistic as we had started the visa process 19th December, 2012 and we knew it would take a 3 weeks at the very least.
Checking every day had become a ritual computer on, then breakfast….I could hear Elayne reply….no…Nothing yet Chris, Elayne calls out from the breakfast table, as I tried to get a few more winks in bed.
Our Libyan business visas arrive at last….well done ‘’Eye of Libya’’
That all important email finally came through our 2 business visas had been granted the ‘’Eye of Libya’’ tour company had come through and they will courier our passports back to Blajan, at last our Libyan visas had been collected from the Libyan Embassy in London…..Great news Elayne and I rejoicing that it had worked and 2 business visas were nearly in our hands…It seems I was the only person happy about getting our Libyan visas, as most of our friends were a little concerned with all the news reports coming from the TV and press……are you really sure you want to go to Libya …our friends would say….you will be shot within the week, poor Elayne will never see her children again…….Those words ringing in my head it was getting tough as now the timing of our departure was imminent and bad news could close the borders….in shala…in shala. And if …and if…and what if….I thought…..I could not sleep for thinking about the worst scenario, around and around in my head what if something happens to Elayne ….our sons would never forgive me.
Elayne gets back to one pot camping cooking after several months in a real French kitchen…..mmmmh not sure if she will ever want to see a one pot meal again??????
My only conclusions I could muster was only bad news sells, and lets hope the news is not as bad as they are reporting….. fingers crossed I said to Elayne, who was a much more apprehensive than me….it will work out, don’t worry …….my words had little effect on Elayne own conclusions that I was mad, and Libya was off the tourist destination places to visit for some time to come.
‘’The Eye of Libya’’ travel company London had completed their promises and sent the visas off to us before our cheque had cleared as there was some problem with their bank excepting our check?????…….It was very good of them and we must give the ‘’Eye of Libya” 10/10 for their commitment to help us, and we finally had our courier packaged delivered on the 14th Jan 2013.
I only need to receive a few maps we had purchased on EBay UK and it was off. Our last party with our new friends and most of the English speaking population of Blajan and our French friends came to say their fare-wells……..we can only thank them all for helping and looking after us. It was a good party and sad to say our good-byes but we were now on the launch pad the weather had become cold, winter was barking at the doors, I knew it would snow before we leave Blajan …..and it was.
We woke early on the 18th Jan 2013 to get a good start planning one camp before Genova just to get back into the swing of things to come. I looked out side the bedroom window as Chantal had set her alarm to say her farewells and help us with anything we needed. It was snow…I said look outside on the ground. Sure enough there was icy slushy snow and it was freezing cold, making conditions very, very slippery indeed…….I go outside to pat Victor and nearly slip over in the process ….YIKES its slippery…..Victor is a frozen block with 50mm of snow covering him, his zipped up plastic windows hard to roll up and get in. The freezing temps making them like thin sheets of spring steel ……..Right Victor this is it…… no messing around …no breaking down……home we are off back home to Australia…..I make more stupid conversation……. as if Victor would ever answer.
We hug and cry Chantal and Dominic has come to say goodbye and keep Chantal Company, we squeeze into Victors freezing cabin……Victor splutters into life our 30 year old Mazda diesel engine once again does not let us down. We head off into the early morning darkness through the main narrow sleeping street of Blajan our anticipation running high our headlights highlighting those old
Genova Port……rain and more rain……Europe sends us off wet to North Africa.
Victor parks next to a North African vehicle…….we feel positively empty…..lol
Packed to the roof how much more can you put in or on this poor old van.
Genova Port Italy the rain stops as we slip away North Africa will soon be under Victor’s wheels once again.
One of the many Ro/Ro ships leaving the Port of Genova to many destinations around the Mediterainian
Early hours of the morning 20th Jan 2013…Tunis 150klms away.
mud and stone houses, we were heading home …yes home ……after nearly 6 years on the road,……..Elayne and I hug each other…….were off home ….I call out YIPPEY……Elayne smiles her eyes tell me everything she is pleased to be heading home, but we know it is a long way a very long way indeed.
Elayne and I sob as we wave our farewells to our friends still sleeping quietly in those beautiful old homes.
Chantal had helped us so much, she had a wonderful heart and was always trying to help wherever she could; it was tough saying our goodbyes.
Wipers freezing to the windscreen Victors terrible lights (we never travel at night …so our headlight have been broken for years) pointing in the air and the other way off in the other direction, I could hardly see anything ahead, winding our way along white frozen country roads in the back blocks of the Midi Pyrenees, our useless lights and thick icy fog, icy roads it was slow going conditions we had not driven in for along time.
I could not believe it as once again 20klms from our start (this happened in 2007 while travelling through the Spanish Pyrenees) Victor’s temp was over 100c….YIKES…..I had completely forgotten about the radiator cover a fine mesh. It was a solid sheet of ice blocking all air flow to the radiator, and even with sub zero temps, poor Victor’s engine was getting hot.
I climb out of Victors Cabin Elayne handing me a head torch …its really cold out here…as Elayne insists I roll my plastic window back down to keep any small heat we have generated inside with her.
The radiator fine bug protecting mess was a sheet of ice my hands were frozen after scrapping away the ice which had attached itself to the fine mesh protecting the radiator from small stones and bugs…..I can’t move my fingers …the have frozen….Elayne laughing at my discomfort……Yikes its cold out here as I still scrap away the ice. We watch Victors temp return to normal hoping I had managed to see the problem before any damage………Flashing lights not gauges……..My eyes so transfixed to the bad road conditions I had not looked at any gauges on the dashboard……yes flashing lights would be better……the next car Elayne exclaims…DON”T FORGET THE HEATER either…….!!!!!!!
Toulouse at last the daybreak and 1.5 hrs for some 60klms….slow going indeed, I could now make out the queues of traffic all white frozen vehicles inching their way to work, as Victor becomes the highlight of the morning rush hour the French drivers waving and smiling at our endeavour. It was less than 5c in the car and Elayne had reminded me of my stupidity for not fixing a heater she had purchased on EBay Australia 6 years ago……you see Elayne exclaims if you had only taken the time to fix that small heater we would be not be freezing and trying to smile at all these friendly onlookers…if they only knew how cold it was inside this car…..and how really stupid you are.
Toll after Toll we are not impressed as we stick to the motor-ways as we are worried about the weather on the smaller roads and if they were clear like this empty motorways there was little traffic and to our surprise kilometres of trucks parked along the edge embankment under the directions of the Gendarmerie, there is not one truck on the motorway they are all parked up.
It was easy driving even though we were still freezing as the outside temp had not climb above 3c and our cabin inside temp had moved to 8c, the snow was falling, the surrounding countryside beautiful covered in snow,
It was great to be back on the road,…… ROAD Warriors at last I cry out…Elayne not impressed with my symbolic punching the air…..rugged up like the abominable snowman Elayne is hardly recognizable, only her eyes appear from all those scarfs reading the computer print-out for our directions.
Waypoint 010 N43’36.841 E006’34.540
It stops snowing and starts raining we are not looking forward to our first camp …if it rains all night our tent will be wet for the ferry tomorrow Elayne exclaims, And packing the tent in the rain is not fun…..we know.
I find a wild camp off the motorway about 30klm north of St Tropez near some previous exploring on older travels around La Fayance many years before. We are surrounded by beautiful small mountains the whispering pines swaying in the evening breeze, the sunsets the temp plummets and we wait until its dark before we open our tent. We enjoy our supper standing admiring the surrounding countryside….the rain staying away.
It’s a quite spot only the distant motorway traffic occasionally breaking the silence, but it is still freezing cold as we eat our first camp meal in several months.
We are out of practice and we laugh at our mistakes and forgetfulness …we are defiantly getting old I exclaim to Elayne, we have forgotten everything. It rains starts just as we settle into the tent, but thankfully it stops. We wake early around 6.00am and make a rapid start to the day getting the tent down and packed away before the weather changes its mind, luckily we did it starts raining as we climb into Victor, once again turning onto the motorway, Genova Port our next destination.
Rain and more rain the weather is terrible the snow has gone and the wet arrives with vengeance, hour after our Victor pushes through the wet rotten weather, we glimpse at the wonderful scenery as we cross the many bridges and tunnels along the way.
Our ferry departs for Tunisia at 3pm and we eventually arrive at the Genova port around 1.30pm and make our arrangements for checking in. It was so strange as we joined the queue of vehicles heading for Tunisia….look at that vehicle I exclaim to Elayne ….its full to the brim, Old rusting Vans of every size, vehicles packed with old bikes, fridge’s TV’s, Old mattresses, gas stoves, building material, plastic toy’s of every possible colour and shape,, everything one could imagine…….We had forgotten these were mostly North African vehicles returning home, their condition reflected their origins. Black smiling faces wave….its crazy stuff people and babies move around their vehicles in the rain, they are wet, the babies are wet and they are still packing more and more stuff into every space possible , roof racks buckle under the weight, tyres are flat….We both laugh………… we had already arrived in North Africa and we love it.