Ladies and Gentlemen! I hereby declare that I am a complete disaster and one of the biggest dumbasses on the planet. In case you’ve been wondering how I’ve been doing on my around-the-world-journey in my Landrover, well, here’s the story, in pictures, as usual, though, they are not mine, they are courtesy of a talented young French photographer Julie Higelin.
I don’t often have the chance to be photographed by other serious photographers, so, I thought – wouldn’t it be awesome to have photos of me looking cool with the car in some awesome place and to share them on Facebook later? You have to admit that there’s definitely at least an illusion of me being rather cool in this photograph and, just look at the backdrop. This is a beach around the South West coast of Portugal. Ponta Ruiva, I believe.
Here I am indeed looking cool, or at least the car is. I mean, just look, it’s like something out of a Landrover commercial. Yes, salt water is bad for the engine, but, I planned to give the car a good rinse afterwards.
More coolness. There’s even a rainbow in the splashes.
After splashing around in the water, I finally decided that it was time to go. Julie wanted another shot of the Landrover going up the hill, above the beach.
For whatever reason though, I decided to come back down and to have Julie make a video of me going through the water and looking adventurous. I had a somewhat bad premonition that this wasn’t an amazing idea, and, indeed it wasn’t. In the image above, the car is stuck in the sand. MAJOR FAIL. There was too much water splashing around, it went into the air intake (I hadn’t installed the snorkel yet), the engine stopped and by the time I started it again, I sunk too deep into the sand to get out.
I was under the impression that I was invincible, I mean, Landrovers, they can go anywhere, and, nothing bad ever happens to me. I thought that it will be embarrassing, but a good laugh afterwards after the rescue service will come and well, rescue me. As you can see, the sea started to get closer. Just my luck, hide tide.
Unfortunately, the rescue service didn’t consider my case very important and nature had some plans too. The Atlantic started swallowing up my beloved Landrover.
I realised that I’d better take out whatever valuables I had in the car. Whenever the waves would retreat, I’d open the door, jump in and grab a bunch of things to take to shore. I was convinced that the rescue service would pull me out soon, so I didn’t worry too much about whatever stuff I had in the back – most of my clothes, a tent and chairs amongst other things. Thankfully, I left my equipment bag in the guesthouse where I stayed.
The world isn’t without kind souls and of course Portugal is no exception. Eduardo, the ex-marine-captain, now vegetarian-surfer was going out for an afternoon in the waves. After seeing a car in the sea, his plans changed. Though Eduardo couldn’t do much to pull my car out, he did talk some sense into me and told me to get EVERYTHING I could out of the car. He had a wetsuit, so, he jumped in to give a hand.
Eduardo knew what he was talking about. A rescue tractor came without a cable or anything that could be used to pull out the car and soon, I realised that I am absolutely, completely f-cked!
I made an attempt to get out those things which I didn’t deem important, but the ocean had taken over. It was dangerous to be next to the car. A hole formed under it and getting trapped in that hole with smashing waves was not a good idea.
I realised that no one would come to rescue the car on time. There was nothing to do but watch and wait that perhaps at some stage I can at least get some of the less important, more waterproof things out of my car.
It was like watching a great beast die. I think this photo depicts that very well. The Landrover lies helplessly on its side while another killer wave is approaching.
As the sun started to set, we finally got a rope. It was actually thanks to Eduardo who drove home and took his own rope from a boat. If not for him, perhaps my car would still be there. I do continue to be humbled and surprised by the kindness of people. I was ready to get undressed and jump in to tie the rope to the car, but Eduardo said “Stay, you don’t want to get sick.” I insisted, but so did he.
Sun setting, beautiful landscape and, my car, on its head. It’s not easy to tow a car when t is upside down. There was quite a bit of struggle before things started to move forward.
Eduardo turned out to be a local kind of super-man, who manoeuvred his way around the car, tying the rope to one end, then to another, allowing the tractor to put it back on its wheels.
Unfortunately all the efforts could not add up to a happy ending. This is the almost final photograph of my once awesome and almost new car. It actually got quite a big more banged up on the way up the hill.
And so, apart from saying that I am a total idiot, what else is there to say? I’m glad that no one got hurt, though it would be hard to in this case to get hurt. I am really glad that my equipment was at the guest house. I am very thankful to Eduardo for helping and to Julie for doing her best to help and for taking the photos, which as some of you might imagine I was not really in the right state of mind to take.
In these cases, you really can’t do much else, but laugh at the absurdity of the situation. It’s like watching a movie, a tragic comedy, only you’re in it. I was surprisingly calm all the way. I guess until the final moments I was hoping that everything would be ok. By the time the car came to the workshop, I was told that it’s basically worthless and unrepairable. Insurance does not cover people driving into the ocean.
There is no need to feel pity though. My adventure continues. I was not about to give up on my dream of traveling around the world by car, so, I bought a virtually identical Landrover a week ago. The whole thing has turned into a major pain in the butt and I will lose time, which I was hoping I’d be spending on the road, but, I will get out there again very shortly.
I have learnt a very expensive lesson. It is good that it didn’t come somewhere on a deserted beach in Africa. I will be much more careful now and, I hope that all of you reading, if you ever plan an adventure like me will be too. On a side note, this ‘little incident’ might eventually turn out to be a blessing in disguise, you’ll hear more if that’s the case.
And so, once again “Merry Christmas everybody! Learn from me! Don’t do as I did!”