This event unfortunately forced the team to split up. Dhruv was unable to return to the Ukraine as he had already used up his single entry and exit visa, which was all he was allowed being an Indian citizen. So he took as much of his luggage as he could on foot and then made his way by taxi into the wilds of southern Russia. His first stop was the city of Taganrog, where he immediately became a celebrity and everyone wanted to take pictures with him. Jonathan and Estevam were meanwhile stuck with each other and forced to cross the border again the other way. The Ukrainian border guards were of course suspicious of an ambulance that had crossed the same border twice in the same day. Therefore the ambulance was searched from front to back. Finally back into the Ukraine, they made their way to the nearest city of Mariupol, and checked into the Spartac Hotel, which had many peculiarities such as room keys able to open up more than one room and also an in-house strip club.
The next morning Dhruv tried to go to Kazakhstan to fulfill some of the team’s sponsor commitments. They have 12 sponsors of the likes such as Freixenet and Nokia. Meanwhile Jonathan and Estevam tried cross another border at Uspenka, hoping they would have better luck. However the same problem occurred there as well. The border inspectors at Uspenka tried to find a way to legally get the ambulance into Russia but after a few hours they were forced to say the now-familiar phrase of “go home.” One soldier even said “mission impossible”. They turned back once again, forced to return to the Spartac Hotel in Mariupol and re-formulate their strategy. However, they now had another problem. After hitting a giant pot-hole that day, they had perforated their radiator and were forced to remain in Mariupol an extra four days. In the meantime, Dhruv was already in Astana, Kazakstan. During his arduous bus and train rides through Russia, he made friends with housewives and soldiers along the way, with vodka as a constant companion.
After evaluating all the options, Jonathan and Estevam decided to make their way back to where they had come from to try to donate the ambulance through their contacts either in Kiev or Budapest to local NGOs. In the end, they drove all the way back to Budapest, where they donated the ambulance to an NGO called “Never Give Up”, which runs a 24 hour transport service for handicapped people. The NGO was thrilled with the “ambulance that fell from the sky” and so were the Improbables, who had managed to donate their ambulance to those who needed it most. With the first part of the “mission” complete—which was donating the ambulance, the second part was reaching Mongolia.
Dhruv already had his plane ticket booked to Mongolia and was set to arrive one day before Jonathan and Estevam but he was almost arrested at the Astana airport for failing to register with the Kazak authorities.
After one day of rest in the beautiful Budapest and seeing the Euro cup final, Jonathan and Estevam booked their flight to Ulaanbaatar, with a one day stopover in Moscow. The Uspenka border guards had canceled their visa stamp, so they could enter Russia without the ambulance if they wanted—nice guys. Landing at 12:30 am in Moscow, Jonathan and Estevam were unable to find their hostel or the other two options they had, as for some reason these hostels have no signs. After hours of roaming Moscow by night with their hand luggage, they finally checked in at 4 am. Russia has always seemed to be a problem for the Improbables.
The other team member, Dhruv, had already arrived in Ulaanbaatar and had the important task of finding “comfortable accommodation” for everyone. Unfortunately, he failed. When Jonathan and Estevam arrived, they went directly to the hotel, which Dhruv had booked for the three of them. The hotel had no hot water and the wood floor was warped with trash under it. The sheets were stained, which was easily explained by the fact that each room had a complimentary condom and that it also had an in-house strip club. These problems seemed to follow the team wherever they went.
The next day they finally checked into a nice hotel where they could rest and get ready for their Mongolian commitments. This included meetings at Olonlog Tuv School, the National University of Mongolia, and an additional organization that held a painting contest for underprivileged children with the support of the “GO HELP” NGO. This was where their journey ended.
This is a brief summary of the adventures and misadventures of the Improbables, who managed to adapt to extreme changing circumstances in order to fulfill their goal of donating their ambulance to those in need and reach Mongolia. Though they never imagined it would turn out this way, many times in life this is the case.
You can visit their website at www.madridtomongolia.com to learn more and also “like” them on Facebook. They will have an exhibition at the National Geographic Store in Madrid, Spain on September 11th, if you happen to be in town.

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=107

Posted by on Jul 26 2012. Filed under Community. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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