Today is our first official day of Trekking and it is not going well. Once Tuya and the driver finally show up after a bit of a delay, the first thing she says is “You have too much luggage. Can you leave some of it behind”? With a lot of last second decisions we jettison two full suitcases. But even so, the van is already stuffed to the gills.
At least we don’t have to worry about the kids having no seat belts - they are safe as eggs in a baskets snuggled in between all the pillows and blankets. When they tell us that we need to stop at a market to pick up supplies I seriously wonder where they could fit but the driver assures us we will be able to tie things onto the roof once we leave the city.
The market is a higgidly piggidly mess of recycled bits and bobs twirling away over mud soaked paths. It reminds me strongly of the black market scene of the Hunger Games with the same grey, drizzly atmosphere. After an eternity of discussion over of the merits of one rain tarp versus another, purchases are made and we are on the road.However, we then need to go to another market to load up on water. And then to another stop for fuel. And so on.
It is at this point, 5 hours past the point of our supposed departure time, that I wonder aloud if some of the supplies might have been gotten earlier, say, yesterday perhaps, and Tuya takes offence. It does not look good. What was I thinking? We will be squished together for the next 21 days! To make up the lost time, we drive and drive and drive till well after sunset. Our first night of camping means figuring out how to unpack, set up our tents and cook dinner in complete darkness before we can collapse into sleep. All of us are hungry, cranky and tired. Not to mention cold.
BUT, it gets better. We get better and better at packing till we not only have only leg room but all the essential bits right at hand while everything else is neatly stacked on top of the car. We so good at setting up tents it only takes 6 minutes from stopping to sleep ready. And most importantly we do all get along. Tuya learns that we do NOT want 8 hour drives and the driver gets used to Vincent taping him on the shoulder to stop every 20 minutes so he can line up a photo. We learn all about them and their families. We camp in amazing spots - on the endless steppes but also besides lakes and perched on the edge of cliffs, and we discover we like camping. Especially waking up in the morning to yaks and camels and cows milling about our tents. Not to mention goats.