blown away

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When I got up and looked out of the door, the other guys were preparing to go to work, and the wind had come:

A construction worker crew took us in for a night

…the wind that everybody had been talking about.

You see, it’s what they call a wind gap 风口 – the area between two mountain ranges where the winds have a natural opening to come through:

This one is about 50km wide, the wind almost constantly blows from the north, and today we were exactly in the middle of it.

“This is very dangerous!” Uncle Shen had warned me. Well, I found the whole thing was actually not as bad as some of the storms and sand storms I had been through before (little miss sandstorm, the best of all melons, the nothingness).

Nevertheless, it wasn’t very comfortable either:

The clouds looked very beautiful though:

clouds

…and so did the mountains:

weird clouds

One time I even saw a giant eagle (or maybe it was some other bird):

Milvus migrans

A lot of people say eagles are majestic, well are they really?

I never quite understood why people would think that. I mean, eagles drop their poop on the land just like any other old bird, right? …but today when I saw that thing slowly circling over me and the weather down here, I could kind of understand why people would think that it was in a way majestic. It just didn’t seem to care too much for what was going on below.

By the way, the camels didn’t give a damn about the weather either:

camels

They just stood there, feeding off whatever they could find, nurturing their humps, living the good life.

Uncle Shen and I walked for hours and hours until we got to a place where the highway construction workers had put up a temporary residence:

construction barracks

This was about the only place where we could hope to find some shelter from the wind, and luckily the workers were very kind to us, and they even offered us some water melon and tea.

Then suddenly, Uncle Shen had to leave.

I haven’t told you yet: he had been developing some kind of allergy over the last few days, we both didn’t know what it was, anyways today his whole face had swollen up to a point where he looked at me and said: “This is getting unbearable! I think I’ll have to hitch a ride to a hospital in a minute. You’ll be alright though lad, just hang in there!”

Then he was gone.

I was alone with the road and the winds again:

long straight road

Sometimes I could see some camels slowly traveling through the desert sands, one trailing after the other, just like a merchant caravan from the Ancient Silk Road:

camels and mountains

I found that very romantic.

You see, today had basically been one giant slope downhill for most of the way:

hard slope

This doesn’t mean that walking was very easy though, since I always had the heavy caboose tailgating my ass and pushing me to go faster.

But the worst thing was the short uphill towards the end of the day:

altitude from October 5th, 2008

It doesn’t look like much, does it?

Well let me assure you: given the headwinds, the weight of the caboose and the kilometers I had already walked today, this little slope made me feel absolutely miserable!

Just like yesterday night, there was a small settlement at the top of that hill, so I was determined to make it all the way up, no matter what.

Here’s the plan:

– prepare some water bottles and some apples for easy access,

– put in a few songs of blasting metal and set them on repeat,

– divide the road ahead into sections of exactly 1.000m each,

– lean forward against the wind and start walking,

– take one step at a time, exactly until one 1.000m section is done,

– sit down and have an apple or a drink of water,

– never look ahead, and never look back,

– repeat,

– repeat,

– repeat,

– repeat.



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