120km travelled, we are weary, it’s dark again and this hill is going to take many many hours to traverse.
We’re skirting the river on a road high up the gorge, there’s no unoccupied flat land to put our tent.
Jamie’s lagging behind, he didn’t sleep well last night and it’s finally catching up to him.
Each house we pass we assess, should we ask if we can stay?
No let’s move on.
We are really bad at asking for help. Maybe because we know we can always push on, we can avoid asking.
There’s a few buildings that look promising. There’s loads of cars outside. As we draw up there’s a massive cheer from a tent down the way. My heart sinks, it’s bound to be a wedding. A young man approaches and he speaks a little English.
Is there anywhere to sleep? I ask.
Yes, sure. He replies and begins to lead us inside.
A woman calls to him.
Ah, no sorry. He explains, the wedding.
We sigh. Ok.
We grind up another 10km of hill. Tunnels, darkness is falling.
Another set of buildings appear. It looks like it might be a restaurant. It has some flat land around. We could pitch the tent maybe?
As we pull up a man comes out.
Can we sleep here? We mime.
I look purposely pathetic, I point to the corner.
Do you have a tent? He mimes
Yes, we agree.
I think we can stay.
He invites us in and sits us by the fire.
He and Jamie begin to chat via translate. Jamie is visibly perky now, I think he knows there might be food in the offing.
He’s right. We’ve happened upon a restaurant/shop/local hangout.
After a brief discussion about what we want to eat, Jamie returns announcing he has no idea what we’re getting. This isn’t wholly unusual.
What we get is delicious and incredibly welcome.
As we’re eating a few cars arrive, and from each three or four young men appear. They wander in, make themselves at home, start the affectionate play-fighting thing practiced by men across the globe.
We are loathe to leave the warmth of the restaurant to pitch the tent in the cold and dark, but as we finally rise to leave we are beckoned to follow our host.
He takes us outside and down the path to a partially built building. We can stay in there, he offers.
Sounds good to me.
He returns with a box of keys and he and his friend go through an amusing exercise trying to find one set of keys to open any of the three doors in front of us. Finally we find one and are shown in to a conservatory at the front of the house.
I’m now lieing on our mattress in the dusty conservatory, wide awake, revelling in the night sky spread out above us.
I couldn’t have wished for better.