Crashing the Marabby

I don’t spend a lot of time blogging out in the Mongolian plains. Most times you will find me grasping my tent and leaning back against the harsh Mongolian winds, trying to keep us both on the ground. At other times you will find me in my tent, iPad at the ready to write a blog only to feel my air mattress deflate plopping me onto the rocky ground. But mostly, you will find me gazing into the distance at a country we have reached after six weeks of hard driving, a year of planning, and a lifetime of yearning.

The danger of driving in Mongolia is getting disracted by surreal hills and mountains that rise and fall across the plains, then driving into a horse.

This didn’t happen to us, but there were plenty of opportunities as herds a hundred strong blazed across the road. Instead of crashing into a horse, car, or ditch we managed to crash into absolutely nothing.

On a plain dirt road the Marabby, for the first time ever, lost power and came to a complete stop. The dashboard relayed the following message, “FPS on”.

FPS meant a lot of different things to the members of team Gobi or go Home.

Hans: “It stands for frames per second, like on computer monitors.”
Shane and Roberta: “No, it stands for first person shooter, like in video games.”

Well, FPS wasn’t in the table of contents, glossary, or appendix of the owner’s manual. One of the mechanics in our convoy started running all sorts of tests and diagnosed it as a fuel problem. Intensive mechanical exploratory surgery was about to begin when Hans found “FPS on” in the Fuel Section of the handbook.

It reads: When the vehicle detects a crash the fuel pump is turned off automatically.

We hadn’t crashed so this was a unique problem. However, the handbook gave a simple solution.

It reads: To reset the FPS press the button marked “A” located beneath the drivers seat.

There was much beneath the driver’s seat, hiking boots, first aid kit, gummy snacks, and a potato chip, but no button. This is where I, with my absolute lack of faith in people said, “It isn’t under the driver’s seat. It is under the passenger seat.”

I was right. FIAT produces primarily left hand drive cars, England being the major exception. The Italian automaker didn’t bother changing the entire car left to right so the button remained beneath Marabby’s left front seat.

True to the handbook our car started right up after pressing the button. We learned five minutes later that when we kicked up one of the many rocks into our undercarriage there was a chance it would set off the crash sensor.

This poses a small problem but we’ve gotten good at hitting the button in motion and bump starting the car without losing speed. The method goes like this:

Driver: “We’ve crashed! We’ve crashed!
Passenger: “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”
Driver: “Hit the button! We’re losing her!”
Passenger: “Button pushed! Engage engine!”
Everyone: “Hurray!”