Amongst the stunted, confused, and sometimes painfully hilarious attempts at communicating where no common language is shared the basic requirements for human survival: food, drink, and shelter to sleep, never seem to pose a great problem. Think to yourself, how would I mime these things? I bet we all come up with the same actions. Holding an imaginary plate and pretending to shovel food into the mouth, raising an invisible cup to the mouth, and resting your head sideways on hands placed together while snoring. No problem!
Sadly three days ago we discovered there are two more actions in this great game of charades that are internationally recognised. Act out these to your current companion and see what they guess:
The first…hold two hands out in front of you, clawing, tongue hanging out your mouth in a panting manner, followed quickly by a hand clasping onto the leg. If your companion is still struggling to figure it then bend the rules of charades a little and try some “woof! wooof!” noises.
So, what did they guess?
Ok, let’s try the second one…make a fist with your right hand, reach across to your left upper arm, place your fist against your arm with the little finger being the part of the hand in contact with the arm, now move your thumb in and out.
What’s the guess this time?
Well, here’s the answers. Number one…a dog bite! And number two…an injection! However successful you were or weren’t, from our experiences we can verify these are actions which are not only instantly recognized but also bring a mixture of reactions from concerned frowns to pitiless laughter. A wide range of medical care may also follow. If successful the appropriate injection will follow. However some doctors will smirk, wipe your wound with a cloth, patch you up with a band-aid, pat you on the back and send you on your way.
So in case you haven’t read between the lines our trip took a little turn of events at 10.45am Tues. After all the tactical dog defenses previously boasted about, I was caught out. No dramatic barking, no high speed chase, no yelling or fearsome rock throwing, no time even for adrenaline. I was simply standing still, as was this apparently calm dog at my side. Then ‘snap’, in the shortest of moments it was over and the rotten mutt was calm again, trotting across the yard. His day carried on as before, mine changed somewhat.
Backing up a little, and putting things in a more positive light, we’d just experienced four wonderfully rewarding days of cycling from the town of Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan, to a mountain pass near Toktogul Lake. Along the way the country had changed from plains of lush green pasture, to rolling grassy hill country. We’d passed through steep rocky gorges beside rivers of rushing snowmelt and lakes of deep green waters. The people have continued to bless us with rich interactions, sometimes kids running alongside hollering and laughing, bread bakers passing out their gifts of hot loaves, drivers giving an encouraging wave, a yell and a beaming smile, afternoons spent in the shelter of shade laughing and miming with idle young blokes. In storms we were given piping hot goats milk from nomadic people of the hills, in sunshine handed melons out car windows. Our little tent had been our home for these days, pitched proud on a mountain top, beneath gorgeous sunsets, or tucked away in a forested gulley in the teaming rain, amidst the booms and flashes of another wild summer deluge.
|Kids: Always eager supporters and learners.|
|High in the hills we found these beautiful mountain snails.|
|The ruggedly winding roads of the Karakul Hydro Scheme.|
|A tasty treat handed out the car window and before we could snap a photo the generous givers we gone around the bend!|
|Climbing into yet another awe-inspiring gorge.|
|Cycle touring heaven.|
|Loving the evening riding.|
|Finding a good campsite is such a satisfying end to the day. Here's one of our favourites.|
|This thunder storm caught us by surprise after breakfast, we wrongly thought they were a predictably late afternoon phenomena.|
So after four days, we woke and were invited to enjoy the hospitality of a Kyrgyz family who were camped on a hilltop close by. At this time of year these herdsmen and women take their horses and goats to the richest pastures which appear as the snow recedes. Here these animals feed up on the nutritious spring growth, their owners milk them five times a day, and Kyrgyz people come from all over. Some are even in the business of taking weeks of holiday, to enjoy drinking the milk fresh from the mare, in a committed attempt at achieving the best health possible for the rest of the year. It was quite an experience.
|Kyrgyz high summer camp.|
|Literally within minutes of milking the mare's milk has been downed.|
|Herders milk five times every day. The fresh milk is drunk immediately. Any leftover is fermented and turned to 'Kumys', a hugely popular drink through the country. We were offered Kumys and enjoyed it's lemony hint...in limited quantities!|
|Up and coming young herdsman counting the family's flock.|
|As the snow continues to recede this camp and it's human and animal occupants will shift to higher altitudes and new pastures.|
|Go to this hospital for a rabies shot and receive a band-aid. Looking at the ambulance I should have guessed.|
|'Deacon Don' and Farhart, our angels who emerged and took us from a deserted roadside to healthcare in Bishkek. Don spoke both English and Kyrgyz, his skills are rare. You might say the needle jumped out of the haystack and found us!|
Yet within ten minutes of this mountain top experience, this bizarrely crazed dog had taken a hungry liking to my right rump, forcing us to abandon the cycle and hitch urgently to medical help. In a nutshell we arrived in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, the following day. We put our best charades on show. I have received two anti-rabies injections and been given a schedule of five more follow up injections over the next three months. Inconvenient.
Our time on this leg of the journey indeed feels cut short, it can’t be denied it’s a huge disappointment, and we’re back to the drawing board! Time for another change of plan. With a bit of time to gain some perspective however, we remember there is much to be thankful for. These days of cycling were indeed pretty amazing and a whole load of fun. We are lucky to have modern medicine to stop me becoming a foaming rabid wreck. And as we’ve been taught again and again every surprise comes with another surprise and many of those surprises are surprisingly good!