Didn’t get much sleep, the apartment being quite cold and lacking in a bed or any comfortable furniture (no, there was no wifi or hot water). We got into the city centre early in the vain hope of finding wifi, and after walking around for three hours we were close to giving up, until a friendly member of staff in a phone shop pointed us to an underground coffee shop. The wifi was limited, but we managed to get the minimal essentials done before having to leave to get back to the flat in time for handing the keys in. We quickly did a food shop, packed up and then left the city, getting stopped on the way out by a man who wanted to sell us a tazer and by a man who (again lucky for us) pointed us back to a missed turning. On the way out we stopped early opposite a cafe where we tried to warm up for the nights camping.
In the morning we returned back to the cafe, it had been very cold in the night and we were craving little comforts. On the way out the traffic police stopped to check our passports, and a restaurant owner offered us to sit in and have some food which we had to decline, we had to make the border before our visas expired. Keen to make sure our equipment lasted and that we wouldn’t waste time messing around with broken gear, we got out our final, larger tent to try and save some further weight off the cart.
Cold still, but made good distance, then worked out in the tent that to make the border on time we’d have to cover even more per day, and we had another city to get through.
We’d made a mistake in the last city of not stocking up on enough water, and today we paid the price, with Arjun having to get out his Lifesaver bottle to use on a roadside puddle. We did make it to a town by the end of the day, where some shop staff informed us that the town was about 10km wide, forcing us to backtrack for camping.
The town was only 2km wide, with a supermarket where we stocked up properly with water. The wind got stronger throughout the day, and we really did struggle for camping by dusk, finding ourselves in a drainage ditch next to the road, waiting until dark to set up.
In the night the wind picked up to hurricane strengths, and all day knocked us around like ragdolls, very nearly blowing us off our feet on multiple occasions and causing all sorts of joint aches from constantly battling for balance. A farmer stopped us to offer us a lift, but after hearing what we were doing instead gave us his number and offered us a place to stay the next day. We finished by a collection of cafes, where after nightfall we took shelter behind a concrete enclosure, hoping to save the tent from being destroyed by the wind. It barely paid off, with the wind changing direction randomly all night.
Thankfully by morning the wind had began to ease, and eager for a bit of warmth and shelter from the wind, we marched without stopping until we reached the farmers village. There, some staff in a cafe called us over for coffee, and helped us get in touch with the farmer. We had some food whilst waiting, trying to warm up and dry off huddled around an electric heater. Once the farmer arrived, we chatted for a bit and he tried to convince us to accept a lift to Astrakhan, where he’d drop us off at a hotel. We had to explain that we couldn’t, and after a while he offered us back to his house for the night, where we talked (found out he was a Cowboy), met his family and were fed. Really nice guy, very friendly.