Stuck in Russia?
Vladivostok was supposed to be the destination, the end of the tour through Russia. Does this city now turn out to be the end of all hopes for the two travellers ever to accomplish their world record?
Sunday, July 11th, they were supposed to take the ferry MS "Antonina Nezhdanova" to Fushiki, Japan, but the emigration office wouldn´t let them go. Meanwhile it is confirmed why not.
Manni and "Matterhorn" drive through Russia as if they had never heard of the word "expedition". Wherever they stop they are welcome, surrounded by friendly, helpful and curious people. They receive presents and letters from the Mayors of the cities they visit for the Mayor of Bremerhaven. Still, the people of Russia seem to be more interested in the 2 CV "Difty" as in the two adventurers, not really knowing where to put this type of car. To most of the russian people "Difty" looks a kind of Russian.
Even the police and the customs are fascinated by the car so much, they sometimes forget to put the stamp into the car registration papers or the passports.
And that´s what exactly happens to them when they cross the Russian border.
Neither the border police nor the two men from Bremerhaven think about having the immigration stamp put in their papers. So, for the Russian authorities they have not even entered Russia.
In the meantime all papers for "Difty" are ok, thanks to the spontaneous action of the authorities in Bremerhaven. "Matterhorn" doesn´t have any problems with his papers in the first place, so right now it is just Manni who needs his emigration stamp.
In this special case not even their appearance on the local TV Channel is of any help. There is no way of fighting against bureaucracy.
On top of all that the scrapbook is still missing. Now all the two men have is this website proving their trip with words and pictures, updated every day.
Wednesday, July 14th, Manni has a date with the emigration office of Vladivostok, and they offer him his emigration papers for a fee of $ 100.
So, one may think everything is fine now.
But it isn´t. Thursday, July 15th, another fax with bad news hits the " Around The World" office in Bremerhaven. The car is in a container ready to be shipped to Japan on a freighter, locked but not sealed.
All of a sudden some officials of the customs show up and insist on having another look at "Difty", suspecting drugs in the car.
Again the old Lady is taken out of the container in order to be searched. Each single part of the equipment is unloaded and inspected, even the tires, and all with the help of trackhounds.
The two Germans actually have nothing to fear, so they feel secure, but it also might have been possible that someone had hidden illegal goods somewhere in the car while they were somewhere else not watching.
But then the customs cannot find anything illegal. Again the pain in the neck with documents that have to be signed, stamps for the shipping papers, questions that have to be answered over and over again, a protracted procedure.
But all is well that ends well. The three of them are now on their way to Japan.
gbm, July 18th, 1999