And the owner, suggested that we could "camp" on his restaurant beds, or in his Prayer Room. By the time Nick arrived, I'd scoffed a litre bottle of Sprite, and had sealed the deal. And not before time. Nick had hit the wall......hard. He was beat. We decided on the Prayer Room and moved in. We were both so tired, guys coming into prayer hardly registered. I managed to drag Nick outside to the restaurant for a meal, and then we crashed.......sleeping like babe's.
But that last meal possibly wasn't a good idea. I awoke at 0500 to the sounds of a tidal flow, and we were nowhere near a lake, sea or river. It was my stomach. ....oh oh. A dash towards the long drop, a very narrow split between planks, behind a very torn tarpaulin. ........nope it wasn't going to work......too complex. I ducked behind some bushes behind the amenities, and let it flow..... and it flowed, and flowed, and flowed. What a relief. I walked back towards the Prayer Room, but before I'd reentered, I needed to return to my bush, twice. This is not looking good. I knew immediately the problem. We have 120km to go to Dushanbe. Last time I had 120km to go, in Myanmar, heading for the border, I had the exact same problem. 120km to go is definitely a bad omen.
I can't stomach the oily eggs we are offered for breakfast. Nick scoffs both helpings. Good lad. He needs the energy. We head out early, trying to beat the heat. Out latest information is that the permanent smooth tarmac starts in about 20km, near the mines. That said, the first hill doesn't look very attractive.....long, dusty, and gravel. But, at the foot of the hill.....the main road turns left, and heads downhill, sealed. Oh my.
I feeling okay. Not spritely, like yesterday, but okay.....going downhill. But the uphills are hurting. Nick has a second wind, and his narrow tyres really suit the road. I'm being called by nature too often for comfort, and it's not always easy to find a convenient bush. After a couple of hours we confer, and I suggest he goes on ahead. He needs to be in Dushanbe more urgently than I do, as his visa runs out two weeks before mine. He reluctantly agrees. He feels bad that I coaxed him through the last few days, now when I need help, he is taking off......what? A gallent Aussie? I tell him to get on his bike.
But, we are now on permanent sealed tarmac. Unbelievable. Luxurious. Bliss. And between 30km and 70km there is more than a slight downhill trend. I sit back and relax on my Brooks leather saddle, and allow Fiona to soak up the kms. Lovely.
But the rumbly tummy is sapping my energy. And it's very hot. In fact, I can feel my arms burning. So I'm getting a bit weary. The road is now a dual carriage way, with three lanes on each side, plus a wide hard shoulder. When a red Lada passes me, and it's wing mirror brushes my elbow, and the kids in the car give a huge hoot of glee, I'm not impressed. In fact, I got a pretty big scare. I stop, sit, drink, and try to stop shaking. Wow, that was close. "Bloody idiots". I recover, and remount. 10km later, a small grey van, filled with shrieking teenage boys, does exactly the same thing. "Jeepers. WTH?" The van stops at some lights, and I catch it. Initially the teens are all pretty jubilant and boisterous, but when I rip into them with a verbal barrage, and then get my phone out to take photos of them and the car, the mood changes. They sober up quickly, and roar away. "Frigging ratbags".
I've put a spot on my map for the Green House Lodge, and navigate through rush hour traffic to the spot. There are traffic lights, multi story buildings, street lights, pedestrians on footpaths, women in short skirts and high heels, so many things I haven't seen for over 1000km, but they don't distract me. I get to my spot......but no Greenhouse Lodge. Oh bother. Eventually, I find a Burger joint that let's me use their wifi. I've put the "spot" about 3km out of place. Trudge back through the city.....and find the lodge. Nick is there. He arrived about two hours ago, and is knackered. I reckon I beat him in knakeredness, but it's not a competition, is it? The next three days I'm too tired to do much. I've got no appetite. The carpet between my bunk and the loo is worn bare. I come alive enough to offer Nick condolences over the drastic loss (60 all out) in the Ashes series (not), and am conserving as much energy as possible for Saturdays Bledisloe Cup match......Go the ABs.