We have stayed for several days in Ulaanbaatar awaiting our flights home. UB is a great place to absorb the history and culture of Mongolia whether through the National Museum, the Mongolian National Song and Dance Academic Ensemble, or the bronze-age museum under the giant stainless Chinggis Khan.
What was really on our minds, though, was the fate of the friends we had made along Rally. We asked teams as they came in about the others we had met, and most of all what had happened to our Dutch friends from the Dapp’re Strijders. By our reckoning they should have come in just one or two days after us since all that was left was to dispose of their crunched car and hitch rides with other teams. News was spotty and vague. Then, walking up to the finish line one afternoon, we were greeted with the news that the team had arrived and they had driven the entire route!! Hugs and celebration ensued. A German mechanic had tipped them off to a button on their car that locks out the engine after a crash. They took a big pipe and pushed up the roof, and replaced the windscreen with some steel mesh. Once it was running and driveable the Mongolian border guards had to let them through. They limped to a mechanic in Olgii who straightened their rear axle and that was the last of their car problems.
Anne-Marie, Dominic, and Iwo repeatedly rejected the easy path of giving up and going their separate ways. They stuck together, worked through each obstacle, and made it to the finish line. The spirit of the Mongol Rally shines through them and all the rally teams that helped them along the way.