Wonderful Nina took such good care of us that night. She took Walters’ and my laundry. Which was seriously dusty dirty I might add, and put it in the washer and then into the bana (dry sauna) with promises it will be dry by the morning. She brought me her special shampoo AND conditioner for the shower – whew! I love conditioner getting the knots out of my hair, but can’t afford to carry an extra bottle in my pack.
Walter had a beer, but I took a shower and quickly laid down on my little bed and went to sleep. I felt guilty Nina was staying up to do our laundry, but I did not complain!
We plan to leave in the morning. Walter had warned me that there is a difficult sandy section coming up. As I am doing well with the straps, I know from the night before that they could turn out to be a bit dangerous in a long stretch of deep sand.
I ask him if we might make an effort to get the bolts fixed here. He goes and asks Nina, and she comes back and says to wait a bit. She goes away and actually turns up at our door WITH A MECHANIC!!
Gee whiz I like this lady!
Walter shows him the problem. He doesn’t look interested in fixing it. Nina pipes up, says a few stern sounding words, and he goes to fetch his tools.
He came back and started on the lovely job of removing the Safari tank.
Nina comes back around noon and invites us to lunch. As friends rather than hotel guests. Walter obliges even though he feels this bike job needs to be finished to get on the road at a decent time… to face THE VILUISK SAND PIT as he calls it.
But we cannot say no as she has done so much for us already.
The mechanic finally finishes. Tough job. I am impressed how he worked on my motorcycle. As with all Russian men, they seem to figure it out.
So I get on with the job of putting all the gear back in my panniers and packing up the bike. Lunch is not ready yet, and it’s after 2:00. I still pack up because I never know what plan Walter is going to call, but I want to be ready regardless.
3:00 pm and lunch is ready. She takes us into her restaurant (I didn’t know there was a restaurant in the building!), and sits us down for fresh Borscht. Yay, my favorite!!
We also had this most divine wonderful warm salad. Every bit of it comes from her garden out the back.
Wished I had taken a photo before we dug in. It smelled like and tasted like pizza without the bread. Sooo good.
I had been curious about her garden, so after lunch she shows us around.
It’s time to go, and we ask to pay for the room and meal. She says no way. We understand the lunch invitation, but surely we can pay for the room and laundry!! She very much insists – Niyet!!!
Gee whiz, the mechanic wouldn’t accept payment… Nina wouldn’t accept payment. How do these people survive!!?? Could you find any kinder people on the planet??
Most grateful, this is Hospitality to the greatest extreme. And she has been well remembered ever since leaving Viluisk.
We now must go, sadly. I could stay here for a while!
It is time to face the famous sand pit… There is plenty of sand out the front door, it can’t be much worse than that, hey?
Have a look!
Again, a picture goes nowhere near to how bad it actually is!
This just sucks.. But as usual, I am getting there slowly.
Walter comes back and says it would be easier if I’d go faster. He is right, I know, but you need to get going at least up to 3rd gear as quick as possible to be able to stand up and in the meantime the bike is swerving all over the place. I’m trying!!! It would be a soft landing if I did fall. But I still have a massive bruise and pain from falling over in the “soft” water crossings, and I think I noticed is each time I go down, my leg gets caught under a pannier. There are pluses and minuses to hard panniers, and a minus is that many people end up with broken legs. The positive is they are very secure and protective of the gear. I don’t want to end up with a broken leg, and be stuck while winter pulls in and not be able to leave until next freakin’ July or August, the ONLY window to travel through this area!
It was super bad for about 5 KM, and then it trickled out around 20 km, and then we were free again. I survived the sand pit.. I’m slow but in one piece.
I couldn’t believe what Walter told me, still not sure if it’s true. He said, ‘I got through the sand better than a lot of people.” I’m like, no way! He said, “On a scale of 1-5, I was about a 3. That sand would have done a lot of people in, but I stuck through it. Didn’t go as fast as I should, but didn’t go as slow as I could have.”
Okey dokey! Thanks for telling me that! I would have called myself the worst sand rider in the world!
Again, maybe I am and he’s just being nice…
These river crossings are the culprits to all the sand around here.. at least we have these floating bridges.. I like it when I can keep my feet dry!!
The road improves considerably. It was like a reward for getting the hardest part out of the way early and then treating us nicely.
I love passing through these northern Siberian villages. They are good looking in so many ways. All wood with the bright colors splashed around, I bet it must look amazing in winter snow. I know I’ve said this before, but I do hope to come back!
And have a look at that nice road!!
Life is good..
We make it to our next ferry-crossing village.
Pull in for much needed fuel. And discover the electricity is out. Many cars are lined up. We wait for a while, and still no electricity. Many people come and go…many camera phone photos taken of us.
Walter decides to do a little excursion rather than wait at the pump.
He had learned from Arnaud about a photo opportunity spot.
We go down the funkiest road.. doesn’t surprise me here! It had the deepest darkest black mud ruts ever!! There is a skinny top bit that is dry that we have to keep the tires on.. Knowing my balance sucks, I still follow the leader.
If I had been given this road earlier in the trip, I’d tell him “You’re dreamin”..
But these days, I just go in and do it.
I didn’t know what we were heading to, but I found myself at this old crashed airplane.
Walter has certainly made his mark! He’s branded it with his Sibirsky Extreme sticker as he did my jacket… We are all Colebatch victims here!! 😉
That was interesting for sure!
Back up the funky road to the gas station, and still no electricity.
We decide to risk the fuel and go on down to the ferry. While waiting, I ask Walter how far to the next village. He said 180 km. I mention that it’s after 8:30 pm; by time we get there it will be dark, etc. We had such a late start from leaving Nina’s. So it turned out to be a short run, but he thought it might be worth seeing if there is a place to stay in this village.
He pulled up the first lot of people and they said, “Yes, follow us!”
We follow as we did in Viluisk, and sure enough, we are driven to the family home as their guests!
Lovely lovely family, they have us park the bikes in the yard behind locked gates, and show us inside for a nice meal (again this day!), and gorgeous rooms to stay in.
Another beautiful cottage, super size healthy garden and I couldn’t be happier!
Inside Leda is curious about Walter’s jacket. He has many pockets and he fills them right up with tools, treats, etc. She wants to give it a try.
The whole family has a go! Sisters Leda and Lena, and Lena’s “baby” she calls him.
Where is the toilet?
Another gorgeous garden! I love how these people live.
We have a wonderful night there. And we leave early in hopes the electricity is on at the gas station in time to catch the ferry.
It is! Fill ‘er up! And down to the ferry we go.
Lena knows the ferry guy, and she follows us in her car to tell him to take us over free of charge.
IF YOU EVER WANT TO EXPERIENCE TOTAL HOSPITALITY, TRAVEL THE VILUISKY TRAKT!!
I am overwhelmed how good every single person is to us no matter where we are!
Onto the ferry, I am a bit cramped into my little space, but we made it.
Another new day awaits us..