Alexine's heartbreaking story

We left the islands, and the humidity behind and moved along the beautiful coast and later over high mountains inland again. 

Mosquitos and a pink lake

While staying at the Persian Gulf the monstrous insects, also known as mosquitos, couldn’t find our blood through the sweat that was dripping down. I’m sure the landing on our bodies was very slippery. This night they made up for it. From sweating in the humid climate of the Persian Gulf to be eaten alive at the Iranian Pink lake. You can imagine it was a loooong night and tiresome night. 

Pink lake!

But before going to bed and having the buzzing destroy or otherwise peaceful night we did have a good stroll on the pink lake of Iran. A huge lake that is actually a salt lake, thus white, and only for a couple of months it turns pink. Just like Tuz Golu in Turkey and many other lakes this lake turns pink due to algae. Algae that flamingos like to eat and giving them their pink colour. We did see a pink lake, maybe not as pink as we liked but it definitely was pink. And we saw flamingos, hundreds of them. Flying away from us. Unfortunately for us we couldn’t get close because however pink the lake looked, underneath the surface it was dark black mud that made its appearance when a Yuri stepped through. 

So far our pink lake adventure because we had an appointment with Volkswagenlover Razul. Who not only is a lover of Volkswagen but also has five of them himself and a workshop! 

Alexine, Volkswagen T2

Alexine was built in 1976 in Germany. Milene bought her in 2015 from a Frenchman who had used the van as a surferbus travelling from the Netherlands to France and back. 

Before the big journey we travelled around Europe in Alexine, never going really far. Before the trip we refurbished her inside and had her painted into the beautiful colour she is today. As her engine was fine we didn’t really do anything to her engine. Her tires seemed fine too and well, we thought we were ready for the big trip. 

Being overly organised is boring right? 

Shiraz Volkswagen Club

We arrived at Razul and were immediately impressed by the vans he owns. Besides a beautiful T2 he also owns an amazing T1! If anyone could check upon Alexine this was our man! A maintenance check every now and then is a necessity, especially when you’re driving an oldtimer. 

So, after saying hello, drinking a tea and checking out all the gems of his workshop we started to check on Alexine. Soon enough we found things that needed fixing – of course. Nothing special, just adding some lubricant, some grease to the suspension and new screws to the cv joints that we’ve changed a couple of times already. The rest of Alexine’s bottom looked quite good, which made us some proud parents, uhh owners!

But the same as with humans, it’s the heart that matters most. And the kindest and strongest of hearts can break once you get to a certain age. And unfortunately, for us, that’s where Alexine showed some really worrying cracks. Despite all the love and care we’ve given her, her heart was broken… She never had a thorough check before the journey and all the adventure, the challenging roads, scorching heat and long drives gave her a heart infarct. So it’s time to take care of her, and with that we mean really.

Thus, as a surgeon Razul went to work. Taking her heart apart piece by piece. And of course we helped. Like little kids we kept asking Razul “What’s this?” “Why are you doing this?” “Why is that broken?” And Razul answered every question with the patience of a caring father. Together we opened her heart, checked every bit and cleaned it all. Besides Razul also his son Reza helped out. A young eager to learn man who learns English and wants to become an electrician. He loves series such as Game of Thrones and has some chicks he takes care of in his room. Whenever he is not studying he is helping his dad fixing Volkswagens. He himself drives a VW gulf, to the disappointment of his father. And then there is Azam, the mother of Reza and wife of Razul. Azam is an incredible cook, caring woman and incredible seamstress. She sews the interiors of Volkswagens that Razul refurbishes and teaches sewing in school. 

For a while this home became our home. We shared meals, sweat and worry. Laughed, worked and almost cried together. Yeah, not all went well. Alexine showed some really troublesome heart injuries. Two cylinders need to be replaced, crankshaft bearings are worn and valve heads were broken. These three major problems could cause major problems for our journey. Luckily we were just in time, unlucky for us it takes time to fix these things. 

So we were put up to the question of sending our broken parts to Isfahan for a fix or use parts of an old engine from a Volkswagen T2 that hasn’t been on the road of years and won’t anytime soon anyway. We decided to check the other engine and take things we need from that engine. But, the costs… now our hearts started to hurt, and our wallet. The engine belonged to an American who wanted the top prize. Lost in translation and not really sure what other option we would have (having it fixed in Isfahan would cost the same they said) we decided to buy the engine. Whatever we need to do to fix Alexine, she’s worth anything. 

Heart surgery

So there we were, in a VW workshop in between Shiraz and the pink lake ready to undergo a heart surgery. Well, Alexine was, Razul being the surgeon and we being the assistants. The good thing about this all is that we learned so much from Alexine, we now know exactly what the engine looks like in and outside. We know what can happen, how to resolve it and the names of every part. But of course, once you find something you keep finding other stuff. So we kept changing rubbers, caskets, cables.

After a couple of days of working – with the occasional visit of some of Razul friends who were curious about the Dutch that almost destroyed their van, we fixed the engine. Alexine had a new heart, well knew… kind of like the monster – or beauty – of Frankenstein. We fixed the alarm lights, changed the break fluid and repaired one of the breaks. We even had time to install an extra oil carter in the hope that she would stay cool a little longer. And FINALLY(!!) we’re able to fix the oil leak. Three days of working in the workshop and Alexine was ready to hit the road. Which we did, to Shiraz, to change her tires.

15 years of loyal service

The tires we’ve been driving on since The Netherlands are already 15 years old. That’s a bit too old for tires. It’s like walking on the same shoes (every time you walk) for 15 years without ever fixing them. Quite a long time right? So we needed new ones. Our precious tires were 175 but the shop didn’t have those. He did have 205. A bit wider than we had, but that only sounded good to us. The wider, the more grip. We said goodbye to our loyal and awesome tires and welcomed our new tires. New tires ready for some crazy adventures.

After the tire change Razul took us to one of his friends who kept a small museum of old knickknacks above his car workshop. From everything related to cars to ancient guns, cameras and music instruments.

And that, our dear readers, was the end of fixing Alexine! It feels like Alexine had been in a huge accident, but this accident took 7 months and many kilometers. But she’s fixed now. Still some little bruises that we can’t fix now and need to check regularly but for the most part she is fixed. This time to explore Shiraz and Persepolis! But that’s for another blog 😘

Love, Milene & Yuri

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The crossing from Iran into Pakistan

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I’m sitting in Alexine while I feel someone stares at me. It’s the Afghan man who has been imprisoned for no reason clear to me and I dare not to ask.

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