It is not what you think, but what you actually do that can change lives.


Being early birds as usual this Monday, we had a lot to accomplish before we can take the flight to Beirut. We were all trying to fin the best solution to find a safe place to the ambulances before we leave Turkey for Lebanon. But around one o clock we took the decision to drive to Adana to park the cars at customs.

 As usual the estimated time was not enough so we arrived to the customs in Adana with a small time marginal to catch the flight to Beirut. But before we could park the ambulances we had to go to customs and make sure that the stamps in our passports was accurate. The stamps were not okay, because we could not leave the country without the cars. Therefore we had to sort everything out with the customs, and we actually thought that we did that, but after leaving them and looking closely on the passport we realised that they had not done the right thing. During that time we had to find a safe place to park the cars, and we actually met a guy that was a doctor that helped us out to find that. However, some people in the group needed to negotiate about the price over a ‘bribe’ dinner, they did a very good job though. The ambulances are parked in a safe place in the south of Turkey, there are not more to be said about that thing. But we missed our flight.

We ended up at the airport hotel, me and Anneli went ahead to see if the hotel was affordable on our tight budget, and we actually learned one good thing, everything is negotiable, we ended up with less then 170 Swedish crowns breakfast included in a super nice hotel. I guess that it helped that we are four people chaired a room, but still, we are all very happy, I skipped dinner I really values my sleep. We are going to fly 0955 in the morning to Beirut tomorrow, nice.

 

 To be continued..

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Sunday Bloody Sunday…


We wished for a sleep in, and we continued to dream about it when we woke up and went down the stairs for breakfast. Last night I emailed some UN contacts about Syria to confirm what the media are saying. I know for a fact that bad news sell and every paper writes about the clashes between the civilians and the government soldiers in Syria, but whom should one trust? It all depends on what tv channel one are watching or what paper one are reading. Anyway, we do not have much choice but to drive through Syria if we want the ambulances to reach its destination, Lebanon. To be honest, I knew that driving through Syria would have been mission impossible but I wanted to confirm it with as much information as possible.  So my last call went to the UN field office in Syria, (thank you skype) I was told that going through Damascus a five hour drive, is a very bad idea, going the coast way a 3 hour drive, is only a bad  idea.  S, o the choice is pretty easy, we are not driving through Syria, not on this mission anyway, so all the family and friends to the Project Hope For Life gang, I repeate are not going through Syria  

I guess you all wonder why we even consider the idea going through Syria in the first place, well, the thing is that I spoke with UN people in the area a week ago and I got green light from them. They told me that they got a lot people in the area driving up and down the roads all the time. It was not going to be a problem  for us to drive through Syria 10 days ago.  But as we all know, everything can change in a heart beat, or with a badly aimed bullet, and I am afraid that is the reality in this area at the moment. Therefore, plan B did not work.

So, what about plan C? Plan  C is under construction, but our Idea is to find a truck company that can help us to take the ambulances to Syria when it is more stability in the country, or store the ambulances in a safe place until the ferris are up and running again.

We tried to sort as much as possible,but it is sunday and not very many places are open on a sunday, so we are all very frustrated that everything takes so much time. However, we are all chipping in and doing our best to solve the situation, but I think that it will take some time before the Ambulances have reached their belonging destination.

We are staying in a nie hotel but the sea, but it is off-season and our group is the only guests, the people who are working here are very helpful and the service is very good. I am sure this is a very nice place in summertime, but now it is really cold and windy. 

We did not accomplish very much today, we will try to sort things better tomorrow, then it is Monday and the authorities that we are supposed to talk to are hopefully available then. 

We are easily falling to sleep these days..

To be continued..

Sea View and Moon Light


Today we had a wee sleep in, very nice hotel. We had only a short drive on highways today, with a short piece of scenic road before we reached the hotel in Mersin, at least we thought that.  The road was a lot of up hill and the ambulances seems more and more tired when going up hill. Nevertheless, the ride was only 350 km today and the first 300 went very smooth.

Along the way we left the Highway and drove through the mountains, it snowed and was about 0 degrees celsius, really cold, but really nice. The mountain way was very scenic and everyone enjoyed it. The drive went well all the way to Mersin.

When we got to Mersin the traffic went crazy, but it was good fun and there was a lot of adrenaline involved, a lot of blue light and sirens were used to keep the convoy together. However, the hotel was outside of Mersin not in the city, so the drive through Mersin was not necessary at all. Yet it was a good practice in crazy car driving.

After a lot of ifs and buts we finally arrived to the hotel many hours after our estimated time, it was a nice hotel and we were all very happy to be there.

We went for dinner and most of us actually went to bed quite early because tomorrow we have to sort out how we are going to get the Ambulances to Lebanon, because the ferry are cancelled and our Plan B is to go through Syria, but we have had indications that the conflict in Syria has escalated and we should not go.

I spoke with UN employees friday the forth of november and was told that they got people there and there was safe to drive the way we had planned to take. But we have to follow the development and see what the best decision will be.

To be continued..

How Far is It To Mersin?


Today we went up at 5 o clock to be ready to leave Istanbul at six o clock, sharp, it was dark and rainy, and the sun is nowhere to be seen. But, most of us only got about 3-4 hours of sleep and were seriously tried, and to be honest not the best drivers. The reason why we left Istanbul at that early hour was to avoid the morning traffic, and it did only take us about half an hour to get out of the messy inner city. We had a taxi driving ahead of us out of Istanbul and that helped a lot.

Three people are going to fly to Mersin today so now are we only 11 drivers to 6 cars, Martin are driving the Chevrolet on his own and I have moved to one of the Volvo, they are much smoother to drive in comparably to the 4 thousand kilo heavy Chevrolet. But this very morning, everything was difficult to drive. I drove together with Tobias, but he was even more tired than me so I had to drive. We drove for about an hour and the breakfast was handed out, but it was to cold and rainy to eat there so we said that we drive for a while before we stop and eat, we drove for 2 hours. When we finally stopped my head was spinning and I could not look straight, I change position to be a co driver then.

Yet, after the breakfast everything went much better for everyone, I guess that one of the reasons for that is that we are not going to drive 900km to Mersin today, we are going to Aksaray, 700km from Istanbul, most of the ways is 3 of 4 lines highway.

The ambulances are still doing a good job up and down the curvy roads, and the Chevrolet breaking system is still in one pice so far, as well as us.

 

A little bit after dark, around 5 o clock we stopped at a cheap but nice hotel, along the road in Aksaray, we were all very happy that we just could eat dinner and go to bed. we were all over tired. But Tobias and John found out that the hotel had a Sauna and after dinner most of us actually went there. Both the men and the women in the gang sat in the same sauna, there was only one, and the guys in the reception gave us funny looks. (cheeky things..)

After the sauna we could hardly find our way back to the room.. no one had any problems falling asleep that night, I will tell you that.’

To be continued…

 

 


We woke up in the heart of old Town in Istanbul at 10 o clock to day, everyone was very tired but we are in Istanbul and we are going to check out the place.

Me, Jonna, Anneli, John, Tobias and Doctor Martin went for breakfast before some sighting.  The other guys went to see the city on their own. The breakfast was not very impressive and non of us got really full. But we was going to make the most of the day. First we took a walk in the old bazar, where they sold us about everything, but mostly bling bling in various prices. It was very crowded in the bazar, I guess it is Christmas time for pick pockets.

Then we wanted some nice coffee and a baklava, baklava is the sweetest thing one can imagine, but one have to taste it to understand that, I can not really explain it. The coffee was outstanding and we were all very happy.

After that we tried to find the Blue mosque, it was difficult to find, because there are a lot of big mosque in Istanbul, nevertheless, when we had walked for about an hour we found it only 10 minutes from our hostel. Us women had to wear a scarf around our hair, but a lot of women did not do that.  There was a lot of people visiting that day, but I think if one come there a quiet day, it is a nice place to collect once thoughts and find som inner peace. The architecture was outstanding and the distance to the ceiling was enormous, I would not like to be the painter who did the art in the ceiling 800 years ago.

After visiting the mosque, we went back to the hostel around 4, to rest a wee bit but I wrote on the blog instead, and I need to be tired tonight.

We all went to dinner around 7 o clock, when the whole group was together there was a wee bit of tension, mostly because everyone was tired and hungry. The original plan was that we are going to drive 900km tomorrow, but we are all so tired that we can not see straight and we can only sleep until 5 o’clock tomorrow morning. And when it has taken us 16 hour to drive 650 km we need 24 hour to do 900km. So we had a rather loud discussion about what to do. The project leaders with the main responsibility decided to fly to Mersin, because they had a lot of things to sort before the cars arrives, and a third person followed them to Mersin. The rest of us is going to continue to drive towards Mersin tomorrow, bu we are not going to drive the 900 km, only half of it.

The dinner meeting aired a lot of problems that we have met during the journey so far which was very good, and I think that we have learned a lot of things tonight.

Istanbul seems to be very nice but it requires a lot of more time to see all the good things there is to see.. Now my pillow have screamed my name for some time, I can hardly see the letters I am writing.  Pictures tomorrow.

To be continued..


We had a wee sleep in with the intention to leave Bucharest around 10 o clock, however, everything went wrong. Ena burn her leg with boiling water when she was making coffee, bad burn on her leg, that was not good. When Doctor Martin and the nurse Ida Johanna had done their job with Ena we tried to get out of Bucharest. That was very difficult, and when we turned the ambulances from another dead end for the thousand of times the breaks on  the Chevrolet was totally finished, we had to fix that meaning losing more time.

Nevertheless, after another hour or two, we finally left Bucharest around 12 o clock and began our drive to Istanbul, Turkey.

We made few stops on the way, but we found a very nice place to eat along the way in Bulgaria, another country we had to pass along our journey.

However, after the dinner nothing went really well, the decision was made that we should drive after the GPS and that technic is not to be trusted, I say. We ended up on grovel roads with big holes in the way, we had already lost one car and this was really bad. Beside that the Chevrolet breaks are not to be trusted.  The atmosphere among the drivers are very tensed and some voices were raised, that is not good at all. We were a bit wary about the turkish border if they would make any hassles for us. We arrived to the border around 11 o clock at night, and when I looked at my watch I thought it was 7 o’clock, I was so wrong. THe border pass  actually went very smooth, even if some papers were not in order.  But we are doing a very good thing so I think that is why they let us through quite easily. however , the mood in the group is still not so good.

We entered Turkey around 12 o clock at night, all dead tried and we discussed about if we should stop and sleep in a hotel right away instead of driving to Istanbul. We ate before anything was decided, after the food they said that we was going to drive to Istanbul. Everyone was too tired to drive but we did it anyway.  It was a struggle but we made it to Istanbul around 4 o clock in the morning, we hired a taxi that drove ahead of us to show us the way. My instant feeling is that it is going to consume a lot of time when we are going to leave Istanbul to drive south. People are tired but the mood is a little better now when we are finally here, yet, we have to make some re arrangements to make this trip a wee bit smoother and not be on the road for 17 hours when the there is only 24 hour in one day.  Now we are all going to sleep until we wake up.

It was a very beautiful night though, the air was cold and crisp, and the moon was full.

To be continued..


Today we left hungary around 7 o clock, but we had to fill up the cars so we did not get out of the city before 8. We had a long drive ahead of us 650 km but nearly no highways. We had only a short distance to the Romanian border and every thing went very smooth, we had all the paper  in order this time. However, when we entered Romania we realised that the roads were much worse than we thought and the truck traffic was the vehicles that was over represented on the narrow roads. From what we understand the money from EU has not reach the infrastructure  restoration yet.

However, the drive was very scenic and the co driver had a nice time. But the dark came very quickly and the roads seemed more narrowed in the dark. Driving the big Chevrolet was a wee bit scary and the truck drivers drove 100 km/hour when the speed limit told us to drive in 30 km/ hour.

We had a serious incident with one of the ambulances on the road, the one that Tobias and John drove, it stared to burn on the road. They had to do a quick decision to put out the fire and save their stuff that was in it. Some of the drivers  ar not very used to drive in a convoy so they did not realise that cars were missing.  The other cars was almost 10 km ahead of the burning car so we had to turn around. After a heroic contribution from Pim, John and Tobias saving them selves and their stuff and putting out the fire we had to make the sad decision that the ambulance was broken and could not be driven any further. The drive was extreamly hard and we were all dead tired.

It took us about 10 more hours to drive then we thought, we arrived to Bucharest around 12 o clock at night but we did not find the hostel so we drove around for half  an hour before we found it.

We went to bed around half past three,

To be continued..