The Journey – Day 89 ’till 91

Tuesday through to today, I searched the locality for a solution to the lack of ships willing or otherwise to take the Banana away.  This involved a catalogue of travelling around the town looking for inspiration for a way out of Paks.  This search went from the ridiculous impractical ideas of various ways the Banana could be propelled or towed.  I saw the possibilities of borrowing or buying a boat and towing the Banana, or adapting it to have pedals, oars or even a sail added.

One look at Google maps, the river itself and calculated the distances involved it all came down to either a boat with an engine or a Banana with an engine.  I did not abandon the attempt to find a lift so I returned frequently to the quay, to talk to the captains who were going the wrong way but may help with the inside information they have.  The ship, Hong Konig I travelled with over the Main Danube canal is owned by the nephew of the captain who was in the port until Wednesday; the tight community of people on the river know more about what is really going on than any outside observer will see.

More to the point, if they like what you are doing help may be found.  They may be going the wrong way today, but their friends or family may be going the right way next week.  Therefore I have invested time in speaking with the sailors and frankly, it has been an interesting pass time too.

I returned to see Gyula several time, both to have a chat and to ask for help with translations, internet searches and advice.  He was both pleased to see me and disappointed I had not found a lift.  I was surprised when he told me he was really worried I may have to abandon such a wonderful adventure.  He was on the end of the phone during the negotiations for several outboard motors and when I decided they were too old, to expensive or both he worried more.

I continued to film various encounters whilst travelling around and also decided to go back to the Roman ruin to use the drone.  Because of the nuclear power station many people advise me not to use the drone anywhere near the town, the river bank including the port and the area around as people and police are nervous about security.  I even showed google earth views of the power station to show anyone can see from space what the place is like.  I stopped doing this as they just looked very worried at this terrible news that the security of their town was wide open to the world.  I chose to return to the Roman site Wednesday evening, hoping to get a view of the river which is surrounded in woods around the area of Paks.

Even at 120 M the river still could not be seen but I (eventually) got some good footage of the landscape of Hungary and the splendidly chosen hill for a fort.  I made some excellent take off and landings with the drone.  This I have on record as I mixed up the on and off button on the inboard camera.  So I thought I switched of recording for landings, only to find I had recorded nothing in the air and switched on to record my beautiful landings and some great shots of the grass.  Fortunately, I realised this and flew again on the remaining battery.  The drone announced I had ten seconds left before it took over control and landed itself. I was unsure if it would come back (I still haven’t mastered programing it to do so) so I dived it towards the ground and landed before the 10 seconds were up.

Whilst on the ground it announced that ‘take off procedure had been initialised’ even though I was sending the command to shut down the motors.  Oh well…

Wednessday was spent between the quay and trolling around the town in the motorhome.  I heard there was a marina upstream so went off to have a look.  I noticed some small boats on homemade jetties, just visible on the other side of the railway tracks through the trees.  There was a tool shop with a parking space and a building site adjacent.  I thought this was a good combination.  So went and did my question thing.  The chap in the shop didn’t speak Hungarian very well, but tried to be helpful.  Next I went to the builders.  Here I am in my environment and quickly saw various things that would be useful to convert the Banana.

The two builders could speak a little German which helped a great deal, and with phots on the tablet plus me showing my scars from building work they got into the idea of finding a motor and changing the Banana to a boat.  They telelphoned around their network of friends and came up with someone who had exactly the right type of outboard I needed.  After an hour he turned up, during which time I had a scout around for materials.

When the deal was done, the builders were chuffed they arraigned the deal for a friend and offered their services and tools so that I could make something to mount the Banana on.  I was too late for the builder’s merchants so I went to a garage, bought some plastic ten litre petrol cans and filled them with petrol.  I went off to fly the drone and get bitten to death by the mosquitos who know from millions of years of evolution that anyone flying a drone cannot swat easily.

I returned to plan how exactly I would harness a 10 horse power, 35 kg engine to a plastic bag.

The night watchman was waiting for my return as he now knows my fridge works really well in keeping the beer cold.  I had a bizarre conversation in which he got angry about having an operation which saved his life (he showed me an impressive collection of scars).  And he hates the police too; odd really as he is in security himself.  I was completely lost and didn’t when to agree or disagree to his rant.  A group of young women dressed for a night out turned up, asked some directions and left.

To make matters worse as his rant continued for another half hour, the huge pusher tug came full speed down the river (at least 25km/h which is unusual) and attracted my attention.  I raced for my camera and returned to see a police boat also at full speed, zig zagging around the ship.  I filmed from the river bank, attracting the mosquitos who had learned about drone operators and had made the connection with those who operate a camera.   It was impossible to focus the camera whilst the little blood suckers were feeding on my eye.

I have not had the time to look at the footage but I do hope the antics I tried to record are ok.  The police boat and the tug turned and manoevered as if school children were controlling them with my drone hand set.  The police boat crashed through the waves created by the ship, and eventually the ship sped back upstream and out of sight towards the new dock.  As it passed distintly I heard the laughter of women on board and caught a glimpse of the young women who had called in for directions earlier.  The night watchman did a little dance, gesticulated at the police boat and only stopped when he started to spill his beer.

I went back to work in the motorhome, battening down all hatches for the night to try to stop the mosquitos from getting in and finishing off my white platelets, all the corpuscles had been drained by the techno bugs whilst filming.

I checked my emails this morning to find I had some mail I had to attend to.  It seem we have come to a time where great explorers (and me) cannot get away for a few months without the obligations of giving money to bureaucrats follows into the most wild and remote places on earth.  Make a note those planning to go non return to Mars.  Fill all your forms out before you go.  And make sure your outboard motor is well attached too.

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