Kim and me couldn't do anything but wait, use the time for the usual bike maintenance (which on a
BMW doesn't seem to be necessary at all!) and play with the three dogs in the yard. One of them being an insanely strong little pit bull who'd just bite everything to pieces you'd give him, but
then also likes being cuddled like the sweetest little pet. I really came to like dogs on this trip!
A few hours passed during which Sergei and Matthias had gone from one shop to another and had tried every mechanic in town. Without luck. Until it turned out that the tractor shop just around the corner had the right bearings. Of course! - but who could have known?
Fitting the new bearings was quickly done. All good and three bikers happy again. Sergei showed us his 30 year old Ural sidecar and was proud as a cookie that it still fires up at the first kick.
We said our good byes and headed for Makhachkala - this must be the hardest town name on our trip
so far and it took us all at least 3 days to finally answer the question of where we are going correctly!
It was a little detour from our route towards Vladikavkaz and Georgia, but we wanted to see the "Caspian Sea Monster". It's one of the remaining soviet Ekranoplans and since we had to skip the ships in the desert on the Aral Lake, we wanted to get our share of nerdy vehicle sight seeing.
Russian drivers are reckless. They pass us way to close and way to fast all the time. We are careful, riding way to the right, always one eye on the rear view mirror. But not far from our destination I hear Kim swearing into the intercom from behind "Motherf**ker!!" A red Porsche wanted to "play with us", almost hitting each one of us from the side. He passes me close and fast, Kim zapping by chasing him down to show him the finger. The car forces him off the road and to a stop. Driver jumps out, Kim off his bike and the situation almost ended in a fight. But other drivers from the same wedding convoy stop, go in between, we do the same. Some hands are shook and the cars are off again just as police appears asking us what's all this trouble about. The cops tell us to take it easy, it's a wedding they say, those guys are drunk and having their party all day, we need to understand that.
So much had happened in those three days between Astrakhan and Makhachkala: Mongolian roads, checkpoints, radiator, dogs, trucks falling over, busted bearings, Sergei's home, drunken Porsche drivers - we were happy to arrive in Makhachkala and treated us to some nice dinner.. steaks for Matthias and me, sushi for Kim :)