A mere two days after the start, our Cape To Cape adventurers already had to attend to serious business! After a mild off-road excursion for one of the Sherpa units, the team encountered some Russian folklore right at the border; and they had to wait it out for 16 long hours! But, not to worry, group moral was strong and they were warmly welcomed.
The road between Neiden (Norway) and the Russian border is most unforgiving, with its fair share of pitfalls and black ice. One of the Sherpa drivers paid the price and went off the road, but there was no danger for him or his passengers. In situations like those, it is always good to have a Kerax close by! Harnessing the exceptional resources at their disposal and their strong bond of solidarity, the team rescued the Sherpa from its trouble spot and it was back on the straight-and-narrow within minutes.
But the hardest was yet to come. For sixteen hours, as they tried to cross the Russian border, the team had to undergo visa checks and vehicle inspections, together with the customary red tape. In spite of it all, everything was done in a laid-back atmosphere, with customs officers having their photos taken in front of the vehicles! Even so, as the hours dragged on, nerves were severely tested; the group had to stay strong and stick together. Gurvan had the brilliant idea of making a ball from a length of adhesive tape and invented « ice football »! Finally, at two in the morning, the barriers were lifted … and they made their way to the first check-point ten kilometres further on. All that, and the sight of the sprawling, dreary industrial city of Murmansk reminded us that the former Soviet empire is not all that far away.
Tour operators may not come here in droves, but the people of Murmansk are warm and friendly beyond belief. The caravan was welcomed by heart-warming applause and a large gathering of its inhabitants. As they see us approach, young and old alike grab cameras and cell phones to have their photos taken with our vehicles. Let us hope that the inhabitants of Saint Petersburg, the next stop in our journey, greet us just as warmly!