I'm knackered, and I've only cycled 20km. The first 3km today have taken their toll. Apparently recovery at this altitude in very slow. I'm climbing gentle rises, but my legs are not responding. I'm very much hoping to make at least 40km today, but it's going to be tough....and then, a fantastic downhill. ..yahoo, almost to the shore of Lake Karakul. All of a sudden, I've done 45km, so I'm happy to be looking for a campsite.... but it's flat, sandy, like a desert, and the Pamir wind is blowing. Twice I cycle through clouds of stinging windblown sand. It hurts. I find a lone shrub, and sit behind it for a break, drink and a look at the map. Karakul is 12km away. Maybe I can find a restaurant, a sheltered campsite, I'm desperate for some clean drinking water, all the rivers have been running chocolate brown, rusty red, or khaki green, and some matches, none of my three lighters will work.
It's tough going. Whenever the road changes direction, the wind does as well. 12km into a stinging, sandy headwind, is not fun. But as I enter Karakul, a guy waves me over. He has a Homestay. $10 will get me a bed, dinner, breakfast, drinking water, matches, and a respite from the wind. Now that sounds like a blimmen great deal. The evening meal, just two hours after chai, was rice with some sort of meat, and bread with a very yummy apricot jam. The jam went on the rice, to make a very delicious apricot sauce. Probably not what the cook had in mind, but suited me to a tee.
Karakul is almost a ghost town. Lots of houses, but most seem deserted. I wander down to the lake, contemplating a swim, in lue of a shower, but the water is freezing, and the sandy wind would not be nice on a cold naked torso. I'll stay smelly. I wander back though the almost abandoned village. There are some great photos to be taken. I'd like to have a few more photography skills. Where's my mate Mr Napper when I need him?