Am getting itchy feet! 4 nights here is more than enough, but Dennis wants to wait for the Land Rover parts, which he hopes will arrive this afternoon.
The Silk Road and the cities of Astrakhan, Samarkand and Bokhara have always, since I was a young girl, sounded magical places to me and I can’t wait to get there. The closest I have been is Tashkent’s Airport, in 1970 on a Scandinavian Airways stretched DC8 flight between Copenhagen and Bangkok. A refuelling stop. Indelibly printed in my memory is a very fat babushka sitting, legs akimbo, on a seat outside the ladies toilet (facilities not to be recommended) dispensing one, solitary square of loo paper, in return for a coin.
This morning we have visited the start of the Volga-Don canal. The first lock is marked by an impressive archway. This huge, Stalinesque, neoclassical arch marks the first lock in the waterway, which now joins the White and Black Seas. Built in 1952, it’s main use is for transporting oil.
I am writing while we are parked under a tree a few yards from the canal. We have just had lunch and are about to return to the Central Post Office, yet again.
There’s been a long break and we are now in Astrakhan on Thursday evening. No internet last night, so I couldn’t finish the blog yesterday.
Hooray and Halelujah!! Our visit to the Post Office is a success. The ‘O’rings and seals and crankshaft sensor have arrived. They were sent out from England by Gum Tree 4×4 over 3 weeks ago and have been following us around the country ever since.
Now we can get on the road again. We retrace our earlier steps and pass the Volga-Don canal. It takes a long time to get out of the urban area. There is another large town on the edge of Volgograd. Just outside of the city is a huge oil storage plant. Tanks and pipelines everywhere and the smell of hydrocarbons in the air. Soon the countryside becomes completely different. We are in the Volga Delta, but there are no signs of any waterways. The countryside is as flat as a pancake. Reminiscent of outback Australia. Reddish earth, brown, coarse grasses and endless sky. The horizon is occasionally punctuated by a small township, dominated by the domes and spires of a huge church, and electricity poles are everywhere, at all sorts of angles.
I wondered where we would find a sheltered spot to camp for the night. We found a few trees, slightly off the road, and parked behind them. Once again, it was very hot and humid and we sat outside eating our pasta, watching a very red sun setting and the storm clouds gathering.