Arriving in Kazan we've been overwhelmed by the interest people have taken in the cars and the rally. I must apologise to everyone who has been so kind and interested to want to talk to us about the car and this strange adventure because when we arrived exhausted from a very long day, fraught from steering an old car through difficult traffic, our first thoughts were about the technical problems we have had with the car and signing in for our 'Rally Time'. As a consequence we appeared bad tempered, ungrateful, ungracious and stand offish. We didn't mean to be. I'm really sorry.
There's money in Kazan - it's an oil town. Our hotel lobby has a stream of elegantly dressed women and Jack the Lad men heading upstairs to the 25th floor cocktail lounge from where you get a great view of the city below.
This is the first Russian city we have been in that actually works. The traffic moves, there's a beautiful Victorian city centre, and modern hotels, shops and a soccer stadium. The city is on the Volga River that historically has been one of the silk routes to the east where money, ideas people and trade have traditionally flowed. This part of Russia is mostly Muslim and I have the impression that it somehow escaped the worst of Stalinism - in the same way that Shanghai escaped the worst of Maoism. Kazan's a little bit funky and a little bit rebellious.
I was rather touched that the rally organiser's realised we had stuffed our results chances yesterday. They have over 100 cars to follow and we were middle ranking at best but they still took an interest. Very kindly they corrected an earlier error that demoted us to a silver medal and put us back to gold status. But of course we immediately lost it again due to our collapse yesterday.
It's not quite right to say that the sun will still rise on us tomorrow because here we are sufficiently far north to be enjoying the White Nights where the sun never sets. It hasn't set on us yet either - we've moved back from 23rd to 26th place and from Gold to Silver, but there's a long race ahead and we are still in good shape and good heart.