Saturday, 9 August 2008

The long way to the empty Aral Sea

This trip is now really turning into something magical and the smile on my face just doesn't fade away. So we left Uralsk or Oral and headed down South to see the Aral Sea which has been emptied by the Russians in the 50s to irrigate the North of the country. The road was good to start with but then disappeared. We just confirmed today with the locals that there is indeed no road to Aral at the moment but it is being built (shown as a motorway on our faithful map). So we ended up doing around 400km of sand trails, used by the local truckers. Averaging at best 30kph, dodging the potholes and blasting on the straights and banked corners. Absolutely awesome driving.

This being a desert it was very very hot and very very dry. Water consumption rose up to 4L per person per day. And we had to turn the heating on in order to keep the engine cooler... Think sauna but without the lake nearby. At about 23:00 we had to stop driving as it was becoming dangerous (could barely see the dead river crossings which can be a fatal mistake due to the drop) and front light failure (repaired by PJ in 34 seconds next morning). So we decided to camp! Where do you camp in a desert criss crossed by truck trails? In the middle of one such trail of course! In between the car and our Halfords warning triangle to be more precise. Never have we felt any safer. Thankfully all the trucks that passed by seemed to have missed us, although one track was maybe too close to my left foot. Anyway...

Off we went in the next morning, as refreshed as one can be sleeping worried about his life. We did managed to reach Aral in one piece though and then the Aral sea with the boat cemetery. Basically these boats who were once floating on a beautiful sea are now just rusted skeletons of a glorious past. It feels funny to walk on a sea bed. This, for us, was a magical moment. I think that the trip now really took an incredible turn and is everything and more of what we hoped for. The desert was a mentally very very hard moment as anything that goes wrong there can take a really bad turn. Driving in potholes so big that the car actually fit in them for 10 hours was indeed absolutely exhausting. But those are the incredible experiences which exceed all our expectations. And then seeing the dead boats... You get the idea.

It is fair to say that we now are both happy like maybe two or three hippos (and also very dirty but you get used to it).

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Salut cédric, bravo pour cette super aventure. j'espére te voir en direct pour recueillir ton récit palpitant sans aucun doute; bises et bonne chance pour la suite. véro

les parents said...

Vivement que cette folle aventure soit finie, j'avoue que je ne brille pas lorsque je lis le récit. Ne prenez pas de risques, faites très attention (message de ta mère)
Papa ne panique pas, il avoue qu'il t'aurait bien accompagné !
Gros bisous à tous les deux, prudence, sagesse et bonne change pour la suite
maman papa

les parents said...

En relisant mon message, je ne suis pas sûre que tu comprennes ce que j'ai voulu dire à propos de papa : en fait ton papa ne panique pas du tout (en lisant tes messages) il est bien plus zen que moi.

the english parents said...

So pleased to hear from you this week, we were quite worried, and now for a day we have peace of mind. Your Dad must have been worried Paul as he's now learnt to turn on the computer and find your blog spot all on his own!!!!Can't wait to see the pictures. What wonderful experiences you are having. Still take care though.
Love Mum and Dad x x

Brruno said...

Ca fait rever tout ca...

Anonymous said...

Salut Cédric et Paul,
Vous avez l'air de vous éclater et c'est très bien, mettez vous en plein la tête. Cette mer d'Aral est vraiment à l'image de ce que l'on peut entendre dans tout les documentaires. Mais quoiqu'il en soit restez toujours très prudent, et n'oubliez jamais que les deux dernières personnes à jouer avec de l'eau, était Moïse qui séparait un océan en deux, et un autre un peu plus connu, j'ai oublié son nom, mais je sait qu'il s'amusait à marché sur l'eau.
Bonne route.
Allez tchao Cédric et Paul.
Jean-Luc, Françoise et Plume.

Anonymous said...

blimey mate - that sounds pretty awesome. not sure where you have been finding cyber cafes in the desert though - another remarkable Jackson achievement! good skills on the 34 sec repair. take care boys, Papey