Summer was coming, but not as soon as we expected. On our way to Bostanabad we had another minor snow shower, and watched cars struggling out of ditches and up hills. When the weather cleared a bit, the sight revealed a sea of white as far as the raven flies. Dissapointed, we tucked our beach towels and swimming gear back into the deepest part of our back rollers. It was good to hope for better weather, but you have to be realistic about these things. Being out of the mountains did have its advantages, though. The smoother roads allow us to make greater progress with less effort. After a good 80 kilometers we halted at a restaurant to consume the most economical meal this country offers. Soup, chai and an endless supply of lavasj, the bubblewrap shaped flatbread. We have been living off this combo for some days now, and makes one man's purse lighter, not more than a dollar per meal . The owner came over to hear our stories, and ended up guiding us around town in search of the cheapest guesthouse. Before leaving, he wanted to show us something that many people came to this village for, so Stef followed him around the corner. He returned with wide eyes and yelled "Guys, start digging in those back rollers, because we are going swimming!" to which our guide added: "Yes, I highly recommend it.". Say one thing about The Silkroad Cyclers, say they like to swim.
The natural hot springs were as close as the raven walks, and right within our budget, just like pretty much anything in this magnificantly cheap country. After an extensive shower, washing away our layers of cumulated dirt, we entered the bathhouse fairly unnoticed,... at first. We were soaking away and relaxing in the largest, mildly temperatured bath for about five minutes when things got chaotic again. Oli was the first to notice and whispered "Uhm, guys, they are all looking...". Not long after that the first pack of youngsters edged closer towards the rare creatures. After asking the more standard questions, they revealed what they found so different about us. I suppose you could compare it to us seeing a woman with a beard. With loads of muffled laughter in the background their leader said "You guys so pretty, with hair like woman". Surely this was the closest they would ever come to sharing a bath with a girl before marriage. To show them we do in fact have a solid pair, we made our way over to the ice bath. Without hesitation we all slid in and suggested them to join us. After we had made ourselves comfortable, and they dipped their toes one by one, a few were brave enough to dive in as well. Only to swim straight to the ladder, crawl out with clattering teeth and shiver back towards their comfort zone. With a satisfied smirk on our faces, we stroked our manes and beards. Finally, the peace and quiet we were looking for.
After we had swum, sweated and steamed we took a final dive in the ice bath and returned to our guesthouse. The owners suggested us a cheap, traditional dish and were very eager to show off their skills to make us 'Dizzy'. The name of this dish sounded very intriguing to us so we said "Let's have it then!". It is prepared originally in clay pots and is pretty much a stew of veal, potatoes, beans and some veggies. It is slow cooked in a hot box all day and is supposed to be eaten in two parts. First you, or in this case they, take your bread and shred it to pieces in the bowl. Then, with the specific Dizi tools, they picked up your pot and drain the juice into the bowl, soaking the bread. Luckily, the next part was left for us to do: eat the bowl's contents. Then, empty the pot, mush al the remains together and eat this together with torn off pieces of bread. After they had shown us how it was done, we couldn't wait to try ourselfves. Alas, it seemed that the owners were very into making us dizzy, so we let them mash it in front of our noses and all we did was drool until it was presented to us.