3/08/19 Sunflowers, tea and a balalaika

Chris says that this was one of the more bizarre days so far. They were driving along and saw a field of sunflowers and decided to pull over. A couple had also stopped, and of course came over to look at the car. It turned out that they make herbal tea, and were on their way to a market with stocks of their tea to sell. The man, Peurto, then got out his balalaika and played a tune which he then tried to teach Chris. Peurto and Svetlana decided to treat Chris and Ilya to some of their tea, so changed into their market costumes, boiled water and served tea and biscuits on the bonnet of the Austin! After a walk through the sunflowers, accompanied by the music of the balalaika, Peurto and Svetlana gave Chris and Ilya some boxes of their tea. As Chris says, a “sevendipity” moment!

Peurto and Svetlana, serving tea and biscuits

A little further on, they passed an interesting looking place that had several old vehicles outside. It turns out that a Tartar man runs a small museum and amongst the various items had 12 vintage Russian cars and 2 model T Fords. He has set it up to look like the olden days, including a wood fired oven in which they make traditional pancakes! Of course Chris and Ilya had to try them, it would be rude not to. One of the visitors was Italian and played an accordion whilst they ate their meal. The owner was so taken with the car that he offered to buy it for cash, £15,000. Understandably Chris gently refused, although he did accept a generous gift of a pair of traditionally woven slippers. Again, such generosity and friendliness – thank you.

They are now driving through a more predominantly Muslim area. As ever, a passing motorist films as he overtakes. Less usual is that the motorist then flags them down and pulls what looks like bottles of wine from the boot of their car! It’s actually a homemade fruit squash (Muslims don’t drink alcohol) which they insist on serving for Chris and Ilya!

So, the day now lost, the intrepid pair decide to camp rather than spend time looking for a hotel. They drive down a few lanes and find a small wooden mosque. Everyone from the surrounding houses came out to look, and said of course they could camp, behind the mosque. Some of the villagers then brought boiled eggs, milk and bread for supper. Chris is, again, totally amazed by the generosity and thoughtfulness of the people he meets. He wasn’t so positive at 4am in the morning when Ilya woke him up – cold, he didn’t have a sleeping bag.

Village festival site/camping ground, near Bikbulova – home for the night!

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