We call the Uzbek embassy, guess what? The visa is not ready yet. It is not clear why. By now it's late, tomorrow we will go to the embassy to understand what's going on.
And here we are at the embassy, in full combat gear. In front of the gate are three other cyclists, a british couple, and another english lady, lonely hitchhiker at the age of 60, cool woman. We all have made the application on the same day, almost two weeks ago, and no news, for no one. Something might have gone wrong that day. After more than an hour waiting we enter the embassy, the console tells us that he didn't get any news from Tashkent, that his job is to check every 3 hours on the computer and he can't do nothing else and blablabla. Sure enough, when we made the application he was drunk, so it's likely that he had just completely forgotten to send the papers to Tashkent. Then he says absurd things like "maybe you should apply from Bishkek because it is closer to Tashkent and so easier to get a visa" (wtf?!) I was not aware that fax were traveling by pigeons in Central Asia. At the end we agree to call him back in the afternoon to see if he can fix the mess that he created, even if we all know this is just a way to get rid of us. Our hopes to get to Uzbekistan are getting very ephemeral.
But the thing that is not surprising is that after all this "run run" "soon soon", and "the ship is leaving" at midnight we are still at the port of Baku. From here, the city looks just reptilian, with these absurd play of light on the ovoid buildings.
We go to sleep awaiting to sail off (which I think will happen at least tomorrow morning), but after an hour somebody knocks on the door and tells us we have to go to the port police for passport control! But if we are on the ship already from 11 hours! Basically, the problem is that we went up on the ship without passing by the police check point before, but no one stopped us, so... What were they doing? And here comes an endless discussion, they want to see a registration paper (new rule of fantastic Azerbaijan) and we have it, but to them it's not okay, because it was done by the online registration system, and these illiterate cops do not even know what that means! After an hour of discussion and insults they leave us in peace. At last the ship can go.
The journey is quite boring, not like the previous crossing, everybody staying in the cab, even the British cyclists. We have nothing to eat because we did not have time to go shopping. On the ship and there are only french fries mixed with eggs or chicken and a dish costs $5! The British they have food but they don't share. There are a few truckers at least sympathetic, and we menage to find a truck ride to Atyrau from an Azeri guy called Ibrahim.
We get down the ship and after several unnecessary controls we leave the port, just to stand outside the gate waiting for our driver. After a while we are told that the truck will not come out before TOMORROW! We go to sleep in a gastinitza near the port where we are welcomed by two other guests, Georgians with vodka, beer and a holy lucky charm. There is also a common room with billiards.
We sleep and in the morning we go to the station but it seems there are no trains until August 29, we have no choice but to hitch-hike. We also go to the migration bureau but today is Saturday and we can't do the necessary registration. Very well. Then we cycle up to the only road that leads to Atyrau, a thousand miles north, we should head east but there's no road crossing the Kyzyl Kum desert.