After a week we left Uzbekistan and entered Turkmenistan. Two days of cycling through the hot country side of Turkmenistan brought us in a nice small town called Mary for a well-deserved rest day. It has some really impressive buildings, a big bazar, a dirty hotel, nice shashlik restaurants and that’s about it.  From Mary we’re cycling some 120 kilometer to a ‘canal camp’. Another great day on my bicycle!

If you look around you, you’ll always see something. Even in a desert or on a rough road: camels, strange road signs, bridges, lots of sheep and goats, someone repairing a truck and beautiful ancient looking cars and busses. A Coca Cola stop is usually something else than an cola: a little kid trying to ride my bicycle, sleeping for an hour, having fun with my fellow riders, putting water from a well over my head, patching Mun Yew’s tube. And sometimes, there is a stop just to enjoy the view and take a picture.

One of the stops is at a cotton field where girls were collecting cotton by hand. So when these girls waved to me, gesturing to join them, of course I couldn’t refuse! It was hilarious! When I was next to them, they wanted to have their picture taken. At first they were a bit shy, but after a while they took of their scarfs and argued between themselves who would be in the picture next. The younger boy took the pictures, including a few of himself of course. At a certain point, they even asked me to lift them and everyone was laughing when I did. After approximately half an hour Carolina, doing the sweep, joined and much more pictures were taken. We had a great time in the middle of a cotton field!

I can’t remember how much kilometer after this cotton field Carolina and I stopped at a Coca Cola stop. Chris, Mun Yew, Jane, Siegfried and Martin were about to leave and John stayed to keep Catharina and me company. They say it’s my fault… I had my second flat due to a big thorn so I accepted the invitation of four men just having lunch. After one glass of vodka, I started to patch my flat. At that moment, Catharina and John were also invited by the men and they started their first glass of vodka. Seeing the speed everyone was drinking, I hurried up and fixed my flat in 5 minutes or so. Catharina and John were already drinking their third glass! In order to catch up, I got a big glass and more vodka. We talked about soccer, Amsterdam and Ashgabat, but it was all about the drinking. One of the guys was a former judo champion and his hands were really huge! My hands are big, his were at least 5 centimeter longer. I figured that it’s better to have him as a friend so I bought another bottle of vodka (for 3,5 US dollar). After bottle number four, lunch was over and they had to go. And we still had to cycle 5 kilometer to camp. Easy…