Thursday, 28 July 2011

Yolanda Leaves

Our new motorbiking friend Assam turned up trumps when we reached Bayganin, sorting out accomodation for both us and the horses. Kazakh friends took the horses in to their secure farm yard, and then invited us in for a traditional Kazakh spread washed down with umpteen cups of Chai from a samovar. Yolanda and I are stting on either side of the elderly babushka or grandmother - she was actually only a year older than me!After our repast, Bauzhan got busy refilling all our water containers from the well in the yard. The well is the circular lined hole in the photo down which buckets were lowered. This was the family water supply. Then we drove over to our accomodation at a restaurant on the brow of a hill opposite, on the road out of Bayganin........

It turned out to be a restaurant where Rowena and I had stopped to eat when we drove back to Atyrau in October last year. Amazingly the proprietors remembered me from then - although I suppose they do not get many elderly foreigners in clapped out Ladas dropping by! I must have been immortalised by returning on a horse.

They had a couple of guest rooms in an building next door. From the outside it may not have looked very prepossessing ......

... but on the inside it was sumptuous, with clean and comfortable beds - the reason I am looking rather pleased with myself!

A big treat was going to the Bayganin public banya. This one had a communal steam room which men and women took turns to use. No large cold water container to fill the sploshing bowls, but a cold tap near the floor which took me some time to find. Yolanda and I went in together and I was able to have a good scrub and hairwash which should set me up for the final stretch to Atyrau.

Late that evening Bauzhan and I took Yolanda to catch the train home from the station. Assam warned us about ruffians who hang around there, so we were quite glad he turned up as well to see Yolanda off. And to help her board the train, as there was no platform and we only had a few minutes to dash along the tracks with her bags in the dark to her carriage!

I was sorry to see her go, as she took the rough with the smooth and we had a tremendous laugh together.

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