As you read: We are going home. Mr. Winter is catching us and in this land, this man is very tall and strong who doesn´t feel pity of nothing or nobody and although we are pedaling continously we can not leave him behind.
Since after “Pamir Higway” that we declared ourselves “on holidays” we went for few day through the “Wakhan valley” (wich is accompanied by the Wakhan river which is the natural border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan) we allmost haven´t seen the sun. We cycled up the valley to see the afghans on the other side, but we got surprised to realize how close they are, across the river waving us every day each time they saw us. That other side of the river seemed to be many years behind this one in comparition that if Tajikistan is humble, Afganistan seemed to be much more.
It was synchronicity that led us to stop to eat something just at a point from where the cliff we could see the whole life of a small Afghan village on the other side of the river and much lower. It was curiosity that made us peek and find out it. It was noon but we decided to camp and spend the rest of the day as two gossip neighbours: Having tea leaning there, staring at what was happening before our eyes. From our privileged positons we could see the inner courtyards of the houses and different floors of the buildings, the coming and going of each and everyone. It was like being at a huge living nativity. As we were much higher than them seemed that they didn´t realize about our presence and excited and curious we remained there for hours enjoying as children.
Mr. Winter made its appearance after few days and although we asked, he refused to put up a little and refrain himself. Snow, cold and very few hours of daylight began to make pedaling something not so fun or satisfying as before.
We were telling each other while pedaling, having lunch, resting… the list of things we would do in that house just 600kms away that we were hoping to be our shelter for a couple of months. Osh, a tiny city in Southwestern Kyrgyzstan was the site chosen because it combine being cheap and interesting mix of people and cultures. Moreover the enooooormous bazaar makes us easier the wintering season and the posbility of having more than one fire for cooking, to take a hot shower whenever we wish, the electricity that would allow us to extend the days or to have a place to just sit and be warm, made us daydream each day as we kept moving on little closer.
When we reached the border with Kyrgyzstan (just 3 days before our visa expired) we got a surprise at all pleasant: the border was closed for foreigners since just 3 days ago!!!… At first we thought it was a joke but the mannerisms and gestures of the police made it clear to us that it was real and also that he didn´t want to see us there longer.
We could not believe it, it was like to go running down a dark hallway watching the clear light of the day out there, and just few meters before, get slammed in our face.
Both of us reacted well and fast without getting hooked into bad moods or complains or discussions that were not usefull at that point. We had to draw a new plan to leave the country inmediately before the visa expired, otherwise we would have serious problems with the police and a huge fine that even selling the bikes and all the stuff we could not afford.
The only option to leave the country was 800kms far, this time we had to look for something that would make us to move faster than our average speed cycling of 20kms per hour; which was gonna be a challenge because the area was sparsely inhabited and,with the addition that the border was closed for international truck traffic, there was nobody there.
The sun had disappeared behind the mountains sometime ago, the temperature was around -20C and we were still filling up our papers to re-enter in Tajikistan again. At that time we should be inside the tent since the cold is too much in these latitudes, while the guards proud were naming all the socker players of Madrid and Barcelona teams.
– Open the fuc…. gate man- told to myself nodding with a friendly smile – Yes, yes…. Iker Casillas, yes. Ok, bye bye.
We pedaled as fast as we could to get back into heat, until we arrived to one bus stop made by stone that we had seen while cycling opposite direction, thinking to pitch the tent inside. It was already almost dark and we saw few hundred meter away few people moving in something like a garage.We decided to go to ask for water for cooking, because with all the fuss we had forgotten to fill the bottles up and… it was there that the situation totally changed.
A man came to us when he heared us calling them. When he came, shake the hands and with gestures and the little Russian we know, he made us understand that the they before we had gone through his village and had greeted him. He seemed to be happy and when he understood what had happened and the situation we were into , his face turned serious and thinking for a minute, organized everything. We would go with him in his truck to his home that was 70kms far in our way, we would have dinner and after we would sleep at his home, and the next day he would help to find a transportation for us.
Before we coul realize how lucky we were, we arrived to his home where was waiting for us a great dinner in one really warm room. We thanked again The Life!!!.
Back to the rush, this time in shared taxi, the only option to get the border on time. We dismantled the bikes and almost made magic to fit everything inside the jeep. After bargaining we got a good price and on the way we discovered another reality: the amount of money that the police colect illegaly from drivers!!. They place at the edge of the road and raising a black baton spinning it stylish they stop all the vans that pass by. The drivers get down with the driving licence in the hand and with it one bill. It´s the only way to avoid the problems. The incredible fact is the amount of police there were along the road. Our driver was stopped 5 time in 400kms, at the end all the passengers were looking to the driver with pity and sorrow.
After 3 days we arrived on time (although the last day in the last kms we got lost and had to cycle extra kms. There were some border post but only one was international and when we asked to the people they sent us to the wrong one). We almost kissed the police when he stamped our passports entering Kyrgyzstan…but he wouldn´t understand so, we refrain ourselves.
When we crossed the border and relaxed, we realized that the world had changed. In those 800kms we went down from 3.000 meters to 500 meters high, and here the weather was brighter and warmer which we enyoyed cycling the last 5 day to arrive to Osh.