Wednesday 20 June:
Start: N55 59 35.4 E46 09 28.7 (in Russia)
Finish: N55 38 53.9 E51 23 12.1 (still somewhere in Russia in a small village, no idea what the name is)
Distance: 398 km
I had a weird dream last night. I dreamt the KLR was standing outside on a street, fell over and broke into two pieces. My disappointment with not continuing my ride was immense. So when I woke up this morning and realized it was only a dream I renewed my resolution to go out, live and enjoy my dream.
And that is what I’ve done today. I am really privileged to be here. The last time I saw foreign tourists was at the Russian border last Friday. Since then not a single one. How privileged I am to ride towards the Ural mountains, to meet so many local people, not to understand a single word, to ride through so many villages and see the rural life as pure as can be.
It was difficult to enjoy the first hour or so of my riding day. The road was horrible, lots of dust, I couldn’t get past trucks and the bike was shaken to bits and pieces like in Northern Kenya. Then I took my next detour and rode into a small village.
What struck me of so many villages is that often the narrow road going to these villages is tarred until just before the village. All the streets in town are gravel. It was with this village the same. Bureaucrats and their way of thinking are strange.
I believe this town has only recently got running water. Plastic pipes were running from house to house but elevated, not on the ground. It makes sense.
I also saw a lady carrying buckets of water that she had filled up from a tank. Maybe not all houses have running water?
I stopped at an elderly lady and asked where could I get tea, chai. She pointed me to their local magazin, their grocery shop. The lady running the shop went out of her way to be the perfect hostess. She brought me tea and a chocolate, then a bun filled with a chocolate spread, then a chair, and then a chunk of cheese (I believe it was goat milk cheese). All the people coming to the magazin were told that the strange man was from afriki.
Her little shop had three sections: One section had domestic cleaning stuff and clothes, then the grocery part, and then one section filled with liquor, mainly Vodka. At the entrance inside were bags of sugar and onions stapled. Next to it an old scale with the weights that one has to add and slide.
When I wanted to pay she refused to take any payment. No, I was her guest.
And that is the reason why I travel. I want to meet these good people that treat strangers like old friends.
Later during the day I saw many old ladies sitting to the road, selling strawberries. I stopped at two of them and tried one of the small strawberries. It was a sour one and I decided not to buy any.
A question bugged me from day 1. In South Africa a truck accident looks like a real accident. Here in Russia I get the idea the trucks just toppled over. I saw so many lying on their side next to the road but with no signs that is was a real accident. How did they manage it?
Tonight I have a room in an old Soviet-style building, but I am just too grateful as the wind from the north is cold tonight. I went for a short walk and took a photograph of a church and a hammer and sickle together. Those two symbols represented two extremes of an old system.
I should reach the Ural Mountains within two days, then I am going to be in Asia and Siberia! A friend sent me a link about a very strange incident that took place in the Ural Mountains many years ago. Enter the following words at Google and read the Wikipedia article on this incident. “Dyatlov Pass Incident”
What do you think? Was it a paranormal incident or a huge cover-up?
I did some reading about the Ural region. During WWII more than 700 factories were relocated to the Urals, beyond the reach of the advancing Nazis. The Urals became a centre of Soviet weapons manufacturing. On Thursday I am going to ride past a city Izhevsk, the birth place of the most “successful” assault rifle of all times, the Kalashnikov aka the AK 47.
During the Cold War secret cities, identified only by number, were constructed in the Urals to house the military nuclear and biochemical industries. Most cities I am going to ride past were closed for foreigners. Yekaterinburg, my aiming point, was opened for foreigners only 1990.
Regards from a small village somewhere in Eastern Russia!