Day 24: Oloy to Oyek , Drip, drop, you don’t stop

Round raindrop shapes on a murky grey background.
Raindrops keep falling on my lens..

I awake from a stupor of strange vodka-infused dreams to another damp morning.

It’s still raining steadily and I’d hoped that last night’s red sunset meant that fine weather was on the way. Red at night, shepherd’s delight, right? But apparently not, not today anyway.

And the rain has found its way inside again, small splashes marking the crash sites of kamikaze droplets. Perhaps I over-tightened the guy ropes, or mis-deployed them? Or maybe the tree canopy is to blame, its periodic showers sending down large, hard hitting drops, which loudly penetrate the tent’s thin shell.

As I break camp and gingerly make my way down the hill, one of the friendly farmers waves goodbye from his muddy Lada, crude but comfortable.

I miss sunshine, hot dinners and hygiene, in equal measure. I’m looking forward to getting back to the hostel and collapsing into a hot shower.

A steady downhill takes me down the long straight road to Ust-Ordynsky.

I bypass the town proper and push on, seeing little to slow my progress.

At Zherdovka, an old lady accosts me from the other side of the road.

Seeking safety and an early dinner, I take shelter in a busy road side cafe. It has a somewhat redneck feel about it, perhaps due to the large rigs parked outside.

Inside, the cafe walls are adorned with badly hung pictures of bears. After ordering, four greasy breads are served to me by a waitress wearing pink flip flops and socks.

In spite of this, I leave a small tip on the table. But as I ready the Troll for departure, one of the staff comes out to return it to me. I haven’t looked in a mirror lately, but maybe they figure that I need it more than them.

With the light fading, I start looking for somewhere to camp.

Aside from the various kinds of shrines, I’ve seen very few bonafide parks in rural Russia. So, I’m surprised to suddenly find a large one, right next to the main road.

Perhaps it has something to do with the adjacent Oyok Airfield (opens new window). Perhaps the ageing planes need somewhere to crash land, when miscalculating their take-offs and landings. And yet, it’s such a nice park.

Hoping to avoid any unwanted company, I ride all the way down to the far end of the park. Although the road is muddy, the grounds are fairly well groomed. But the place has an air of danger about it, as if the discrete rest areas are popular stops for hardened criminals. One could enjoy some very one-sided conversation here, before moving on to unsavoury beatings, torture, or worse. The engine noise of planes and helicopters would be ideal for smothering screams and vain cries for help.

My imagination running wild, I try my best to penetrate the bushy cover surrounding the park. But the dense shrubbery resists my paranoid attempts and I finally have to compromise on a semi hidden spot beneath a large tree.

But as soon as I am inside my tent I question my decision. Why exactly do I insist on camping under trees when it is raining?

Drip drip DRIP DRRRIP, drip.

DRRRIP, drip.

Drip, drip, drip.