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Sunday, July 15 2012 | Repairs and beautiful Kazan

It would be difficult to underestimate our concern that evening over the immediate prospects for the remainder of the tour. On the road to Kazan we stop for a rapid breakfast which lifts our spirits a little. It was agreed with the garage that we should wait at a kilometre marker and they would pick us up there. By early afternoon, we're still waiting impatiently for some action. Another quick phone call and finally we are picked up by an Iveco technician who takes us to a nearby repair workshop.

.It is not clear, but we suspect that this is a partnership, because plastered everywhere across the site is the word MAN. Immediately several mechanics simultaneously go through the vehicle with a fine toothcomb. They quickly hitch up a gizmo to the van, and as if by magic, they can use the laptop to diagnose the problem, for example turning the ignition on and off and testing the accelerator. The next step is to get the vehicle into the main workshop. And then stay here until the evening. Endless inspection, testing, investigating. A test drive brings no improvement. I use the time to work. Fortunately it’s the weekend, so we are not yet missing any appointments. With all the standing around and the high temperatures outside, it is again unbearably hot in the Editourmobil. O, for masses of towels like you get in a sauna. At around 7 o’clock they finally tell us that a part needs to be changed, which needless to say they do not have and cannot get hold of quickly. You could check tomorrow with another Iveco agent in Ekaterinburg, they tell us, and see whether they have the part and go back and pick it up. There’s no-one there to ask because of the two hour time difference. I am angry about the lost time, but nothing we can do, we just have to grin and bear it.

We are allowed to park overnight in an outdoor car park in front of the premises. However, a more pressing task is to get something to eat, as we haven’t eaten all day, and there’s nothing hot available. We decide to drive into Kazan. As we are making our way into the city centre a huge Kremlin comes into view which contains the beautifully illuminated Qol?ärif mosque. We park in the vicinity to go and take a closer look at this huge and impressive site. To our surprise, the Kremlin is still open and numerous coaches are disgorging groups of tourists who even at this late hour are pouring into the buildings. We join them. It is unbelievably marvellous.

On the way back later, we pull in at a very seedy looking 24-hour convenience store to buy a Pepsi through a barred counter, and then back we go again to Iveco to review our impressions in our imaginations (or rather, on my camera’s display screen).