We left the little lake in the heat of midday. Before starting the ride on the at least 40^C road we took our shirts, sheets, shorts and caps and pulled them through the cold water. This helps ignoring the heat just as long as we need to adjust to it. All of this stuff is dry about 10 minutes later. Puh.
The wind is strong and changes direction every 10 minutes. It takes away the euphoria of having tailwinds before I can speed up. Have you ever been swimming at the shore in big waves? That’s how I feel on my bike when the wind throws me arround and a truck passes me by with 80km/h.
The street is full with dead birds who play a risky game. They stay on the street till you are really close and play as if they can’t fly( probably to distract us from seeing their baby’s) and in the last they fly up. I nearly ran one over with my bike, the dead ones obviously had played with to fast cars.
The nightmare becomes true. Paul sees the signs, which we know to well already, first. A blue square in about five km distance, about two by two meters. “oh no, there it begins, the reconstructions of the road.” we know from Axel that this is the beginning of the worse road you can imagine as cyclist. About 1200 km long sand road which is improvised next to the future road that shall lead from Russia to Kyrgyzstan. The problem is actually not the sand, not the dust from the passing trucks, not the ups and downs every 50 meters, not the noise of our luggage that makes talking difficult. It’s not the big and deep holes in the street, it’s the small in very short distance after each other lying holes that make your bike vibrate like a jackhammer. They brake you down even if you have tailwinds and you can’t avoid them for its the only part of the street that is rideable anyway. The trucks coming from Shymkent don’t seem to have one screw left that still sits tight and the road is full with wires, broken tires, screws, bolts and everything that holds cars together. It would be paradise for me to have my workplace around here. The street offers a wider range of screws than most tool shops I’ve aver been in.
“watch out” Paul screams from the front. In the last second I can bring my bike to stop and a small and fat baby bird sits right in front of my front wheel. It turned its head to the wheel. As its neck gets a little longer and its rather short future wings spread for a moment of anger, it makes”chiep”, as if it was to say: Watch out where you are riding, dude, you nearly ran me over”.
We look arround, no mother bird to bee seen. Well there are a lot of birds but all ran over already. So we decide to give him a chance, put him in a old baby-leathershoe that a friend had given me before I left and that still was on my bike (thanks Friedrich). We will try to feed him and make him fly. We called him Nugget. As soon as we found a place to sleep Nugget decided that his new nest wasn’t comfortable enough, ate his grasshopper I caught for him and fled away. Ungrateful beast.
We settled and just as we were ready for dinner Paul said “psst, what’s that noise”?. We heard fast feet running towards our tent and both jumped up. Right at that moment a fast dog came running by and as fast as it came it disappeared again in the prairie. We looked at each other quietly and smiling:” That was a cute dog, he!?”
We start eating and suddenly the dog come back. Creeping over the floor and suggesting that it is all ours and will do anything if we give it something to eat . We ourselves already ran on minimum food so we didn’t have anything left. But the dog stayed. The next morning it was still there and as we came out of the tent it yawned at us and wagged his tail. “She” was really thin but such a beautiful and healthy dog that we both kind of fell in love with her.
While we were having breakfast, one cookie each and a half a bread with sugar, she was hunting squirrels in the prairy, without success. Then she found something and I was curious what it was. I didn’t believe my eyes as I saw it. She found Nugget. Maybe she saw the day before that Nugget had fled from us or she wanted to make a present to us, but she didn’t kill or eat Nugget. She softly guided the little bird back to our place with her nose. Nugget wasn’t that glad with this treatment. He was all slimy and wet from the dogs mouth but came running to me to avoid the dog. As soon as the dog turned away the bird ran from me again. We noticed that we were only good for the moment and that Nugget would try to escape every time we put it back in his new nest, so I carried him away to a quiet place in the prairy. Good luck to you, Nugget. The dog tried chasing squirrels again. We tried to help her but didn’t make it as well. I would have loved so much to take her with me and give her some food. But we didn’t have much left and she would never make it to shanghai so we left her there. She didn’t bark or make any noise, just did that look that dogs do so well when they are sad. She tried following us for about 10 km and as the tailwinds got stronger and we speeded up, she gave up. Goodby sweet dog, goodby.
We had strong tailwinds but the worse street ever for about 50 km, then the new street was partly finished and the workers gave us the sign that we may ride on the freshly flattened asphalt. Against first assumption we made it to Aral. With just some sugar, dextrose and bread left we made 120 km. In Aral we got cash from the bank, went to a shop to by food for the evening and breakfast. The same things as always happened. A lot of children around us, many curious men and women asking the same old question. But we let go and enjoyed this rain of conversation. People in Aral were all really friendly. It’s getting more and more a Muslim society so drunks get less drunk and ” salom maleikum” gets more and more.
Now I sit just a few kilometers outside Aral in the shadow of a tarp. Today we will go back to Aral, do some shopping and Internet-stuff, then we will be on the road again.
By the way, we reached Camel-country. Horses have been replaced by this enormously huge beasts, it’s so funny to see them in real life. First time for me. Another sign how far we have come already.
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