Oh no! (cont’d)

The day after we dropped off the van, the Toyota garage rang Toon in Palmyra. Bad news: aside from whatever problem was causing the engine to overheat, Vyv needed a new cylinder block. With a quick band-aid solution, they suspected Toon might be able to drive a few thousand kilometers on the old cylinder block. Considering a new cylinder block would cost 100,000 Syrian Dinars (ouch!), he decided to take the risk. They said that the van wouldn’t be ready for two more days, mostly because of the shortened working ours imposed by Ramadan. We kept our fingers crossed and waited.

The next morning we all went back to Homs, missing the comfort and convenience of Vyv, but optimistic for her return. I lucked out on the bus and scored the last real seat, much to the dismay of a mean man who tried to make me move to the floor so he could have the seat (grrr). Mark and Toon didn’t have to sit on the floor, thankfully, but they did have to sit on plastic lawn chairs positioned in the middle of the aisle. The chairs shifted back and forth with every turn, and looked like they would break at any second. Oh Vyv, we need you!

Because the band-aid repair would take until the end of the next day to complete, we decided to split up with Toon and headed for Aleppo early while he stayed around to wait for the van. Mark and I have seriously little time to spare in getting to London overland, so we didn’t have much choice. All we could do was hope the van would catch up with us in Aleppo, if the repairs took longer, then we would have to keep going on our own. We were confident and optimistic that we’d see each other the following day.

The following day came and we waited with no word from Toon. Afternoon turned into evening with no sign. What happened? Finally, just as we were thinking about dinner, Toon showed up at the hostel looking a little worn out. Turns out that five minutes after leaving the garage, the van broke down completely on the side of the highway. He had to have the van towed all the way to Aleppo. It was dropped off at a garage where not a word of English (or Dutch, for that matter) was spoken.

Before leaving Brussels, Toon had to put down a very large deposit to get all the required paperwork for crossing international borders. In order to get that deposit back, he had to return with the van and the paperwork, stamped and properly filled out from every country. Come hell or high water, he was going to get that van back to Belgium. How was yet to be determined.

Unsure of what the garage in Aleppo would be telling him the next day, Mark and I reluctantly decided that we would have to carry on without the yellow van. We had a few farewell beers and said our goodbyes to Toon. We didn’t make it quite as far as Istanbul together as we had hoped, but we had some fantastic, action-packed adventures together through Jordan and parts of Syria. We’re extremely grateful to Toon for letting us join him in his pimpin’ ride. Thanks Toon! We wish you all the best with your future travels, and hope that our paths cross again soon.


  1. Maxine Bellm

  2. You do not know me or have ever heard from me but I just want to tell you how much I enjoyed your blog – joined rather late but am catching up fast. Sonia Tessari worked with my daughter-in-law Maryse at Astral and kept in touch with her via facebook as she is now living in London. Sonia told Maryse about the two of you and the link to your blog…and I got hooked. Thank you so very much – you’ll be home for the changing of the leaves and they are usually gorgeous in the Maritimes. ….Maxine

  3. Debbie Rosen

  4. I have to laugh at myself a little. Do you two have any idea what a subject heading of “Oh no!” does to the stomach of a mother thousands of miles away!?!! Very upsetting for Toon and your plans with him and Vyv, but very relieving for me to read that you’re both okay!

    Counting the days until I can give you both a huge hug!

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