|before the rain|
At the house we park our bikes in the garden and sit around the low table in the back room of the house. Mahmoud is very talkative, opinionated, interesting and interested. We are fed well by his aunt and although most of us enter a vague zombie-like trance, Rob keeps up the conversation. I only wince once when he asks Mahmoud if he has ever visited other countries on holiday. Mahmoud also makes us wince when he asks about niggers in England. We tell him that we don't use this word - it's derogatory - a bit like Russians calling him a dirty Tajik. Mahmoud has worked in Moscow, and nods in understanding. "In Russia they call all of us from the Caucuses and Central Asia, tree stumps." He and his uncle are more bemused when the subject of marriage comes up. Whilst me and Gayle get off lightly, Chris, Rob and Gabor are quizzed incredulously as to why they are not married. We are amused - it seems obvious to us.
|how many cyclists does it take.....|
In the morning Chris and Rob arrive early from their camp near the village below. We all start to plod up the road to the pass. At some point it hails. We find shelter in a ruined building. It's a slog to the top and I'm not in the mood for cycling. I push a long way. Gayle cycles in her granny gear. At the pass we pause for photos, lunch and tears of exhilaration. Bloody hell.
|Bill can't stop joking around. |
He and Claudi had paid the policeman at the checkpoint
some money to get through - which is why he held us up.......