Monday, 6 August 2018

Car accident in Georgia: How we lost our rear windscreen.

Georgia has been eventful, to say the least. We crossed the Turkish border into Georgia late Thursday night. The border crossing itself foreshadowed what was to come. It was a long, slow, and confusing process. When we arrived at the Turkish border to exit, they made me get out of the car and walk through security as only one person was allowed to be in the car. However, Harley and I had no means of contacting one another as we didn't get a sim card in Turkey. I blindly stumbled through security with no idea what was going on and made it out the other side in Georgia in five minutes. Harley, however, was nowhere to be found. TWO HOURS passed and eventually I was able to see my Freelander emerging from security. During this time it rained relentlessly - I was freezing cold too. Thankfully, to take my mind off things, I befriended a really nice local who gave me sight-seeing advice and told me what to expect in Georgia. 

I worried Harley was getting in trouble at the border as we hadn't been able to pick up the highway vignette needed to use the highways in Turkey. A camera takes a picture of your number plate every time you enter one. You're supposed to receive a fine about 10 times the amount of the initial fee you would have paid if you had purchased one -- however, as luck would have it, the Turkish security system crashed and they were having to process everyone manually. That's why it took Harley so long to get through! That, combined with the fact some idiot was taken for questioning but forgot to move his car and thus blocked every single car behind him from going forward. Nobody could find where this guy had gone to and so couldn't get the car moved. I had to laugh when Harley told me what the Georgian security forces did to him -- when they searched the car, one man, coincidentally seemingly the only man at the entire border to speak English, started grilling Harley on why he had a hammer and pliers in the car - were the pliers to chop people's fingers off? Harley started to panic and explained they were necessary to fix the car, promising they were just tools. Security grilled him further before laughing in his face and explaining it was all a joke and he was fine to continue! Needless to say, Harley pooed himself.

Anyway, when we finally entered Georgia, we had a hotel set up. At least, we thought so. Turns out the prices we'd booked online were 'old prices', and so we swiftly left before finding another hotel just up the road. The next day we intended to explore Batumi, a coastal seaside city. However, as is typical of our luck this trip, it started to chuck it down as soon as we left the hotel. We quickly had to abandon our plans of visiting the Botanical Gardens and retreat to another cheaper hotel. We spent the night planning our trip around Georgia and grew excited about what lay ahead - finally, a chance to do some exploring rather than constant driving.

The next morning we set off to Kinchkha Waterfall, a site around 2 hours away. The main waterfall itself was a let-down but we enjoyed the journey up to it. We took a wrong turn and accidentally went 'properly' off-road for the first time. All went well. I mean, I did have to get out to move a fallen tree as the car couldn't get over it/ it was trapped under the wheel but we were pleased all had gone well. A little too well. 

 

By this point, Harley exclaimed he had become one with the Freelander, he was close to controlling it with his mind. I have to say now, drivers are crazy in Georgia. There is this sense that you can go wherever you want on the road, cut in front of whoever, and beep whenever you feel like it because, at the end of the day, nobody wants to crash their car. That said, every other car on the road seems to be missing a bumper or window. There are also several pigs, cows, horses, and stray dogs that love to run out in front of you. I have to admit, Harley was driving fantastically up until this point... I guess that led to extra cockiness because all hell soon ensued!

   

We drove down this small ravine to access a lower part of the waterfall. Initially, we reversed in to make it easy to get back up the hill. However, wanting to get a nice photo of the car, we turned the car around. This photo opportunity was spoiled though as another car decided to come to join us in the area. Anyway, we enjoyed paddling around the waterfall and scrambling across the rocks. When we went to leave, Harley decided to accelerate heavily to ensure we didn't get stuck half-way up the hill. However, in doing so, as soon as our tyres hit the tarmac above, the car shot backwards and slamming on the brakes achieved nothing. Before we knew it, we'd smashed backwards into a brick bollard that had narrowly stopped us from being propelled backwards off the bridge and into the shallow water below.  

 

Instantly, and naturally, Harley panicked. We got out the car to assess the damage and it turns out our rear windscreen was now literally over the road. The handle to open the back door was also hanging on by a thread. That was it - adventure over and relationship ruined. At least, that's how Harley felt at that very moment in time. I have to tell you now - this isn't the first time he has crashed my car!! He drove into the back of someone last year but luckily (for me anyhow) didn't damage my car only theirs. I digress - the door now wouldn't shut properly and kept opening by itself. We drove further down the road to leave the scene of the crime and feared that as we drove along, it may open on its own accord and the bed we had built, packed with our clothes and food underneath, would come shooting out and (if we were lucky) would fall all over the road - or, if we were really unlucky, hit a car behind us. The further down the road we got, the more Harley panicked to the point he was actually sick he was so concerned (bless him).

We decided to return to Batumi as we thought we may have to cross back into Turkey and then go back through Europe. We returned to the hotel we had visited the night before and the guys that owned it helped us put up a plastic tarp over the back window as it was now chucking it down with rain and our bed was absolutely soaked. We were able to disconnect the back handle entirely so now it is just permanently shut.

The next day we explored a small part of Batumi before heading to Tbilisi. Armed with the knowledge that some guy was selling a second-hand 2002 Freelander backdoor for only £60, it felt like we had little choice. It took around four hours to reach the city and we couldn’t stop along the way as we had nothing in the rear window anymore. One of us had to stay with the car at all times as all of our stuff was in it.

     
Batumi

When we reached Tbilisi and found a hostel, we realised there was no private parking anywhere. Some mechanics in Tbilisi fashioned us a new plastic tarp that looked far more secure so, for the meantime, it’s ok until we find something better. We weren’t able to make contact with the guy selling the door and we may try to just cold call him in a few days’ time. He doesn’t speak any English, nor do most people in Georgia, so it’s extremely difficult trying to do anything or get any help.  Anyway, with the window patched together, we set off the hostel and enjoyed a dominos pizza before hitting the hay and getting ready to explore the city further soon.