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Saturday, July 14 2012 | Broken machine

As we leave the city behind us, we are greeted by a sensational sunrise. Just for a moment, everywhere is peaceful, the streets deserted. It is not to last. We drive through a varied landscape of forests, tiny villages and gas production facilities.

We soon find ourselves confronted by the usual traffic jams and roadworks, and it is already evening when we turn into a little village in search of a supermarket. The objective is swiftly achieved and we manage to stock up with provisions minutes before the store closes. From the impression that we make in the place you would have thought a UFO had landed. People are bewildered at the sight of this strange vehicle. We continue driving down the road at the end of which stands a beautiful church.

I take some photos, for the colours of the setting sun are creating a wonderful display. We drive on. Just as darkness is descending an ominous red warning light appears on the dashboard of the Editourmobil and engine power is suddenly reduced by half. A rapid consultation of the manual produces the answer: any defect in the engine means a problem with the fuel supply. You are strongly recommended not to drive further, the manual sternly advises. Problem: we are in the middle of nowhere. Now what? We pull into a rest area and consider the options. Rolf phones the Iveco service centre hotline, who give us contact details of their agent in Kazan. We could make it there tomorrow and get the repair done. They tell us that we can continue driving even with reduced engine power. Really? Big doubts are starting to form in our minds. Just how bad is it? How long will the repairs take? Can the tour go on as planned? We decide to sleep on it, and stay in the rest area until next morning.