Samstag, 11. Januar 2014

Days 145 to the end: Kalimero heading west

It has been quite a while since we sit on Agonda beach and watched flamingos step through ankle-deep water and the sun go down behind them. Definitely a scence to remember.

But normal-paced life wants us back sooner or later, so it came that we headed up to Mumbai after 11 days in Goa.
A Volkswagen surrounded by Mercedes - the day of departure from Agonda.

Actually, we planned to avoid Mumbai traffic at all costs, and the container port Nava Sheva being south of the bustling metropole was doing us a great favor for this point. We had to meet Mustafa, our shipping agent, 2 days before packing Kalimero into the steel box once again, to do some paperwork. His office is near CST station, which is almost at  the end of the Mumbai peninsula. Luckily, a quick ferry regularly goes to this peninsula from Alibag, which is located south of the bay and kind of a holiday place for wealthy Mumbai people.

Employment strategies in India: double the staff to collect the highway toll.

We ended up booking us into a 25$-per-night-resort, where we could also pack Kalimero in a nearly quiet surrounding (just some Indian constructioners passing by, watching for half an hour). Michi took the express ferry to meet Mustafa, Daniel and to have the container rims reinforced (turned out the rear ones were a little bit weak), while Katha enjoyed room service and the last bites of Indian food.

After 3 nights, we got up early and headed to Nava Sheva - and almost got stuck in a huge traffic jam with hundreds of trucks, stuck on the highway to the container terminal. With flights booked, we could not afford any delay, so we did it the German way: driving on the right side of a 4-laned highway, with headlights on.
We made it in time, and our local agent/pusher had us stay in the port area for about 4 hours - but as he did all running and paperwork, we only had the duty to change tires and drive Kalimero into the box. With some practice from Dubai, this time was very easy: not having a hangover, not having 45°C, knowing that Kalimero fits, knowing that we should use rear locks and all-wheel-drive, it took us about 30 minutes to get Kalimero from "in front of" to "inside" the container.

Indian experts doublechecking the lashing.

The guys that actually did the lashing. We didn't expect it in India, but they really brought brand-new ratchets. On the ground, you can see the marks that Kalimero left while driving with metal wheels and hubs locked.

Some more waiting for the customs, softdrinks with the latching guys, and at 4pm we were backpackers again and found ourselves in a Tuktuk. We wanted to start it slowly with backpacking, so Michi's brother was once again so kind to invite us to a night at the Sheraton. Thanks, Martin!

We spent our last day in India in Mumbai, and Daniel once again showed us parts of the city that were very interesting. We went for ice-cream in the middle of a huge muslim neighborhood and had dinner in the greatest restaurant in whole India: Srivala near CST. A taxi to the airport, then "only" waiting until 4am, and we finally boarded the Quatar Airways plane that should bring us back to the land of beer and brezn.

A short time in-between: we had things to celebrate!

And then, as an early Christmas present, Kalimero arrived on Dec 19th in Hamburg. It took us until 23rd that we could open the container and see how he does.We were generously hosted by some wonderful fellow bus drivers (thanks Jürgen and Mona!) for 2 days before we went to the huge port area at 10am. We had to wait 10 minutes (!) before a big truck with a red container showed up.
Luckily, the lashing guys did a good job and Kalimero was dust-covered, but ready to drive home.

The good ol' 1.6l Turbo engine certainly did a long drive, but it seems the polluted Diesel, the thin air in the Himalaya and the modified exhaust (German Umweltzone!) were too much for him. He had some problems starting in India on sea-level already, but now in Hamburg at 5°C we definitely needed some forklift pulling to get enough rotation.

A last frontier crossing and paperwork: German customs.

The engine won't give up. After some coughing, back on the road again.

He still managed the 735 km back home with his head held high, though - but after pulling into Michi's parents' driveway, 199.465km were enough for an engine's life, and Michi had some work to do after Christmas.

So, with these lines, Kalimero's journey heading east comes to a happy end! It has been a total of 20664km, almost 2600l Diesel (12.5/100km), and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We will remember the journey and the people we met forever.

Thank you for travelling with us - and who knows when we will see again, maybe when Kalimero will head to other directions on the compass. There are still some left.

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