July 4, 2013 by loscobos12
To claim that Kazakhstan passed in a haze of sand and Borat jokes is not be entirely true, but it seems easier and less monotonous than describing over 500km of desert.
A brief summary would begin with camels, before moving on to the revelation that the band Texas were wrong to claim that “the
deserts miss the rain” when it rained several times, and finish with the claim that Josh found his bearings in a bazaar in Shetpe- both metaphorically, as he realised how far he was from Manchester, and literally as we purchased some new bearings for his headset.
The headline story however, was of our battle with a road so awful that its very existence was regularly called into question.
There came a point where we were no longer cycling on a road, but simply using the most popular piece of desert. Indeed, its popularity was often its downfall; the trucks, which represented the only reminder that we still inhabited an age which had advanced past dromedarian transport, had pounded the surface so that it varied between spine-damaging corrugations, and wheel-grabbing sand-traps.
After crossing the border into Uzbekistan, the road improved to the point of usability. In order that our lives did not become too easy, water became increasingly sparse, and we had to ride up to 160km
Finally, after traversing over 1000km of desert in eight days, we reached the metropolis of Nukus, where our luck ran out.
An infected foot which Rob had been nursing turned out to be cellulitis, and our brief halt in Nukus has stretched into days.
Fortunately, the town has more in the way of entertainment than one of Syvlio Berlusconi’s birthday parties.
The days have flown by, as we eat ice cream, go to the bazaar, visit the art gallery, go to the bazaar, and eat ice cream. What the town itself lacks is more than made up for by its inhabitants. Its occupants include: Sarcien- whose hospitality in inviting us to his home is unparralleled, Nigora- our motherly receptionist who spends her time alternately fretting about Rob and giving us watermelons, Indhira- who has taught us the local Karakalpak tradition of kidnapping the woman you wish to marry, and Eminem (though I suspect this is not his real name) – who dreams of one day visiting Bradford, the hometown of his favourite seventies band “Smokie”.