Sunday, August 3, 2008

Now this, I wasn't expecting!

I've come to expect a lot of things to go wrong and be generally difficult when you're traveling, especially by car to Mongolia. Things randomly going wrong with the car (e.g. still don't have turn signals, and now the fuel gauge is gone too) - check! Random extortionist requirements at borders you've never heard of (Kosovo forces you to a two week insurance policy on entry for 50 Euro) - check! Last night, however, we ran into a new one... Right around midnight we pulled up to the Romania - Moldova border (because you have to go through about 1.5 kms of Moldova to get from Romaine to Ukraine, where we were actually heading. Border crossing - no problems. Cyrus now owns more insurance, but not much of a delay. 10 minutes later, we are at the other border, and here we have a problem: the customs guy looks at the VIN number in my documents, looks in the car, and finds them to not match! Actually, as it turns out, my car has two different VIN's in it: one on a plate attached to the frame that's off by one digit from the one in the documents, and another in the front that's completely different! (Yes, these are things I should've checked ahead of time...)

As best as I can guess, the car was in an accident at some point and the front panel had been replaced, taking the original VIN number with it and giving me one from the 'donor car.' As for the other number, riveted on behind the radiator? I have to guess that's the original and the French authorities simply screwed up when they recorded the paperwork... None of this, of course, could get me across the border, so we spent a night in Romania. This morning, after a bit of discussion, I've decided I need to go back to Paris and get this all sorted out. Even if I find a different border crossing into Ukraine that won't be so particular about the VIN numbers, this is likely to come again along the way. Especially when I try to either import the car into the US or donate it in Mongolia, which are basically the two options I have for getting rid of the car. So, for the moment, I've sent Lott and Cyrus on their way East, while I've already driven West to Bucharest (not a particularly interesting town btw) and tomorrow will try to determine if I have to drive the car to Paris to get the documents resolved or if I can just fly there with the documents. If anybody out there has any experience with convincing the French authorities to correct their registration paperwork, I'd love to hear it!


b mathew said...

Dang it man, thats some crazy stuff. Good luck!

Jimi said...

Beside the bad luck and all the surprises in the trip it seems you have a great time.. keep up mate.. ;-)