‘Atkoeda?’. Drunk question marks behind large, black glasses of the vintage women’s sunglasses on the nose of a Kazakh on a motorcycle looked blurrily at me.
Day two in Kazakhstan. I cycled in the middle of nowhere. A fresh green, often seriously sloping nowhere with a bit further a yurt and some sheep. Too close, on a shabby motorcycle, two drunk men.
No, I didn’t see double.
‘Jevropa. I am from Europe, from Belgium’, I replied.
‘Adna?’. ‘Yes, uh … alone’ I added uncomfortably.
This was followed from the other side by a hand gesture that invited me to have sex. An invitation which I, while putting my ugliest face, declined with the word ‘dasvidanja’ (goodbye). Instantly the man in the back repeatedly apologised. Sunglasses in front muttered something similar.
Downhill … luckily! But the smell of alcohol of these shepherds made my gps drunk. It first sent me to the right, then left again, back to the right and finally towards the yurt. Bad timing!
Soon the motorcycle, also zigzagging, although not through a drunk GPS, followed me. Behind me, I heard all kinds of stop commands and invitations to drink tea. In haste, I rode through the high grass towards a path I had spotted.
That pursuit was carried out only by Sunglasses on wheels, correction: on wild wheels. He had left his companion behind while stopping at the yurt.
While rushing, he unintentionally performed a real show. His motorbike was, with a slide-effect, lying next to me, and a bottle of homemade kefir rolled a bit downwards. Sunglasses went after it and offered me the half a liter, freshly shaken white substance.
Saying I didn’t have space for this and pointing out all my bags, did not offer any solace. I had to and would receive the bottle. Finally, Sunglasses was satisfied with a Belgian who took some gulps and who kindly thanked him for the delicious kefir.
Back on the bike, I couldn’t help laughing. What a comical sight: the women’s sunglasses, the awkward chase, the slipping, the stumbling and the insistenting offering. It was a kind of cute. He actually behaved cute, the drunken man who first frightened me but apparently felt guilty about it and wanted to make it up.
The Kazakh ice was broken, I was ready. Ready to find paths just for me, to ride through unshaven fields, cycle through green hilly landscapes, through pine forests on mountains slopes and through orange-red canyons.
I was ready to discover Kazakhstan on my wild wheels.