Well this is it the last day of the convoy the boat docks on time and we all file off in our vehicles. We cannot escape customs officials though, even in our own country. Abdul & Dave (Shinybeast) get pulled for inspection, the vehicle is thoroughly inspected and all relevant paperwork checked. The rest of the vehicles are waiting on a nearby car park and convoy leaders are in constant contact with Shinybeast. The whole of convoy are concerned but no one talks of moving on, some of the vehicles still have an eight hour drive ahead of them and the Irish lads ferry isn’t till two in the morning on the following day (some long journeys still ahead for some). There is no talk of moving on as the whole of convoy is one happy family, we started this together and we are definitely going to finish it together. It’s not long before the word comes that Shinybeast is through customs and everything is clear, they round the corner and pull up to a great deal of cheering and clapping from the rest of the convoy drivers (as I said one big happy family to the end).
We all say our goodbyes on the car park after the obligatory group photo’s in front of the vehicles. After the photos it’s a great deal of hugging, back slapping and handshakes all around, we say our goodbyes to friends old and new, some we will see again on future convoys but for some this may be their last (Bob’s being saying this for his last three now, but this time he means it). These friends will all have special memories of each other from Michael’s music to Sean’s urban fashion, from Ray’s bird of prey spotting to Bob’s unforgettable weather forecasts (most of these are in jokes on the convoy, there is so much more that goes on convoy that you just have to go on one to understand)
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Steve & Peter (Convoy Leaders, Monster Socks) on behalf of myself and the entire convoy. They managed to take ten vehicles and twenty drivers from Newcastle and return every single driver and vehicle safe and sound just over two weeks later. They managed to navigate us through different countries and cities, negotiate border crossing and arrange the tolls and hotels. Special thanks to Steve for his excellent radio communications throughout the cities, his directions were invaluable for not getting lost in the cities. Also a special thanks to Peter for his fantastic negotiating skills in securing some of the best accommodation on convoy ever, at knock down prices as well. The Boppers and others on the convoy agree it’s been the best convoy that they have ever been on, once again thanks Steve and Peter.
It’s a shortish journey home for Ray & I (Boppers) it only takes us about 3 hours, a little traffic in the Tyne Tunnel and its off down the M1 across to the M6 via Kirkby Stephens (was it really only sixteen days ago that we last travelled this road). We make good time and are soon transferring our clothes and presents from the vehicle to our car at Christian Road Delivery Office in Preston, then very soon we are rushing home to our loved ones Liz and Mandy.
I hope that you have enjoyed the blog I have tried to make it interesting and informative about what happens on convoy, I have tried to add some humour but also some insight into the individuals that go on convoy. As I stated at the beginning of this blog, convoy is not easy nor is it a jolly, it is very hard work and draining both physically and mentally (the sights that you see in some of these countries is heart wrenching). You drive many miles on roads that leave a lot to be desired, you stay in motorway services and eat out of the back of your vehicle every day and you get tired and irritable and can snap at fellow convoy drivers. But ultimately it is those same friends each and every one that helps you out and when you are down or upset they set about cheering you up and raising convoy spirits. Everyone feels down at some point on the journey and it is the camaraderie of convoy that pulls everyone through. I really do hope that reading this blog has encouraged you to go on a convoy with the CWUHA or make a much needed donation, in the words of so many convoy drivers it really is a life changing experience and one that you will never forget.
In summary this convoy started in earnest sixteen or seventeen days ago for some, but the work to organise and collect the aid has been on-going for many months now. Ten vehicles carrying over 25 tonnes of valuable aid crossed Europe to two countries much in need Moldova & Transdnistria, they visited places that survive and look after children in appalling conditions with little or no money and support, conditions that most of us cannot imagine (another twenty now have those images ingrained in their minds now). The convoy drivers have seen sights that should not be seen in the modern world, they have seen things that need to be consigned to the past and the CWUHA is working hard to make this happen. There have been good times as well as bad times, there is despair about the places that we have visited but from that despair there is always hope, we are making a difference. They have delivered good aid to these places that are much in need of the basics of life and it seems like a drop in the ocean, it seems like a thankless task but in the words of the starfish poem.
"You can't possibly make a difference."
The person looked at the man. He then stooped down and picked up one more starfish and threw it back into the ocean.
He turned back to the man and said,
He turned back to the man and said,
"It sure made a difference to that one!"
Well we sure made a difference to not just one child this week but to hundreds, so by my reckoning on this convoy we must have delivered close to a thousand smiles. A job well done, congratulations to every single convoy driver.
Until next time over and out.
Paul (one half of the big boppers)