Leaving the farmers house we walked through strong winds through what was increasingly becoming a desert. That night camping was awful, with no shelter all day until we came across a building site, where we managed to get against some sort of concrete block only for the wind to change direction in the night, blowing sand into our tent and making a racket. The next day we weren’t in great moods, but were in for a massive surprise.
We were walking into wind all morning, and when we stopped to refill our water bottles we noticed a car had pulled up a way behind us. Thinking nothing of it we stopped for a break, and then the car pulled back onto the road and up to where we were, quite slowly. Looking through the windshield, we recognised the faces, but didn’t believe it could be them, not until they got out of the car, big smiles and a thermos of hot tea to hand; it was Alexander and Valentin, the guys from the hotel when we first entered Russia! We got into the car out of the wind and were straight onto our translate apps. Turns out they’d thought our visas were close to expiring (only a couple of days wrong!) and so wanted to come out, see us and help if they could, a ten hour drive! We chatted for a while, with Valentin going through some items he’d brought for us, and then eventually, after a little convincing and a promise of a lift back to that spot, we agreed to go spend a night with them in an Astrakhan hotel. Unbelievable guys, we loaded up our stuff and headed for the city, where we enjoyed good food and an evening in over some drinks, a great night!
The next day after breakfast we went on a little tourist look around Astrakhan, visiting the Kremlin, Churches, markets and a souvenir shops, one of which gave us a small gift. It was all very relaxing, but heartbreaking getting back into the car and driving back to where we met them. Before they headed back for home they made some tea and gave us a couple more small (and useful) gifts, amazing guys and an amazing goodbye for Russia.