Tuesday 20 May - Toretam to Josali, 88 km
My big bag did not turn up in the lorry yesterday, but I found it this morning hidden behind some cardboard in the second lorry for some reason. Had to do some hasty luggage sorting and also get a new chain on my bike before leaving. Claude managed to rip the school gate off with the lorry, not a very good return for their hospitality!
Very hot - 42 degrees in the afternoon. I had threequarter trousers and a lo g-sleeved shirt to keep the sun off. At 65 km we stopped for lunch at a museum complex where there was some shade and an icecream seller. The place is a memorial to Korkyt, an ancient thinker, musician and humanist. The museum was small but nice, mostly old musical instruments; on top of the hill was a structure with an Aeolian harp in the top which made strange music in the wind.
On arrival at a very grotty gym building they took 14 of us women to the Russian baths - not as good as the last ones, but we all splashed around happily and washed out our cycling clothes. Lost my
towel here when I left it out to dry at the school. Fortunately I still have my mini towel which just about manages. Slept in a corridor on a camp bed with sleeping bag. Toilets miles away in a smelly broken-down block. There is a big newer school building, the one we are in is old and not very clean.
Wednesday 21 May - Josali to Jalaghash, 94 km
Several people were not very well today - maybe the heat, maybe the food. It was cool and cloudy to start with, and cloudy most of the morning, which was lucky. We cycled through boring desert landscape on a bad road with quite a strong wind, from the side in the morning then later in front. Hard work.
Picnic lunch was packs of cracked wheat - quite nice but boring, and of course meat with it. I ate some, then went to a local bar where I had a beer and my bread and cheese, two cups of milky tea and a siesta on a platform with carpets and a low table in the local style. Very hot in the afternoon - I put on long sleeved shirt, socks, threequarter trousers,
and my buff hat soaked in water - we all pour water over our heads quite regularly, it’s the only way to cool down.
We arrived quite early; sleeping in quite a good gym which actually has showers and a flush toilet. Quite a big town. After helping unload the sleeping bags and mattresses I went out with Christine and found a bank machine, a small supermarket and a post office. The post is very complicated: they will only sell stamped envelopes, not just stamps, and they had to be persuaded not to put the return address and postcode on the envelopes, as I will not post them from here - no cards. I bought a new diary as my notebook is nearly full, and three hankies and some acetone so that I can re-paint my toenails.
The usual concert but outdoors this time, I got mosquito bites and went and covered myself in mosquito repellent. Dinner was at a local restaurant,quite good: salad, soup, meat and potatoes (nice potatoes!), sliced fruit, biscuits, tea or coffee, and at the end they produced giant icecreams on sticks.
Thursday 22 May - Jalaghash to Kizilorda, 79 km
Set off at 7 am, countryside today much greener, bushes and even trees and some little rivers. Quite a good road, too. We arrived quite early and had the afternoon off. I have a nice big hotel room shared with Liliane. Had shower, did washing, also gave a stack of washing to the hotel laundry - a big mistake. Went out and looked at the market, went to a supermarket. Dinner much as usual. Read for a while: such a luxury!
Friday 23 May - Kizilorda
Breakfast OK - rice pudding, kefir, eggs, coffee etc. Did some washing and mending. The hotel laundry managed to mix up everyone’s washing, it arrived in dribs and drabs on a landing and we had to and reclaim stuff. I lost my white socks.
Went out with Christine to look for the post office; found some expensive shops and she bought a very nice long-sleeved shirt. She almost bought some shorts, but they were too dear! Everything imported is dear, of course. Eventually found the post ffice, Jean-Jacques was there with a young lady from the hotel office, he was trying to post some clothes home but there was a power failure so we took a taxi to a different post office which was working. He posted his stuff and I bought some rather boring postcards and a few stamps.
Taxi back to the hotel, the hotel lady showed JJ, Christine andme to a covered market (not quite a shopping mall) and we bought stuff - Christine and I bought traditional Kazakh hats, JJ some sandals. I found some not very good sandals and also found some fruit - nice apricots which I ate at once. Cherries arealso in season already. Back at the hotel I got my bike very well washed at the car wash - all the mud of the rainy days got cleaned off.
Went out to dinner with JJ to a local pizzeria, unfortunately the menu was in Russian and the waitress spoke only a little English, but we got egg and cheese pizzas and a bottle of Moldavian red wine. A nice change from rice and meat every day.
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