Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunday Story: Small Adventures on the Steppe, or "Camels for Stephanie"

The Steppe
A herd of horses outside Almaty
 Yesterday I went with friends on a day trip to Steppe just north of Almaty.  My friends were looking for some of the wild poppy fields which bloom around this time and for some kind of monument.  I was simply looking for an excursion out of the city.

Our route took us north on the road to Astana for about one hundred kilometers before turning on a road that followed the Kurty river.  As we drove we saw herds of horses, herds of camels, herds of sheep, and even a llama or two.  The road we were following gradually transformed from a road to a pothole riddled obstacle course before finally disintegrating entirely into dirt track.  I have heard that this is true of many roads in Kazakhstan, that as you get farther from the city, they deteriorate until there is barely anything left.
A herd of Camels for Steph

We drove and drove but failed to find the poppies or the monument.  Eventually my friends decided to turn around and we found a spot by a bridge in the village of Akshiy to eat lunch.  Fifteen minutes later we were forced to flee our lunch spot just before it was overrun by a large herd of sheep.  So  we continued on our way back to Almaty.

A herd of sheep near Akshiy

Our outing turned to adventure when our car wouldn't start after a brief stop by a picturesque bend in the river.  After a few minutes of trying every trick we knew to start a car, we began walking toward a farmhouse that we had seen a few hundred meters down the road.

As we approached the farmhouse two big sheep dogs greeted us with menacing sounding barks.  Two men and a young boy were outside the house.  I asked if the older one spoke Russian and to my relief, he said he did.  I explained that our car wouldn't start and asked if they knew a mechanic nearby.  He said that there wasn't but then asked where the car was. and I said that it wasn't far.  He went inside for a few minutes and then came back out with the younger man and indicated that we were all to get into his car.
A picturesque bend in the Kurty River

Working on the car
I attempted to make small talk as we drove back along the river to our car.  After fiddling around under the hood, they decided to tow the car to a start.  It worked and the man told me that the starter didn't work and so to make sure to park the car pointing down a hill.  We thanked the two farmers profusely and then resumed our journey back to Almaty with no poppies or monuments to show but with our very tiny adventure ending happily thanks to two helpful Kazakh sheep farmers.

1 comment:

  1. Yay! Camels!! =0) I told you they had them all over the place. lol