Just outside Aktau we begin hitchiking, after ten minutes a jeep with two brothers stops by, and they speak English! We load the bikes on the roof and we're off. They are going to the funeral of a relative, about 80 km from there. Not many, but better than nothing. They stop at the lookout point, we are in the great depression of Karagiye, about 140 meters below sea level. The landscape is beautiful from here, yet there are no bare steppe, it's hilly around the depression, but not a single tree anyway.
Finally we get to a parking lot for truckers a dozen kilometers from Beyneu, it's 9pm, we put the tent near the truck, always in the steppe of course.
We prepare something to eat but Daniel makes a colossal mistake with the alchol bottle and I catch fire! Basically he adds a bit of ethyl alcohol on the fire directly from the bottle and of course the alcohol gets back, and the bottle blows, he throws the bottle and I get fire on my leg. Luckily I extinguish it immediately. We're just behind a truck with tanks of highly flammable stuff, not bad a risk. The driver, who is sitting in the driving seat, asks what happens, we tell him everything is fine, we just saw a scorpion. My leg burns and I have some bladder. Gary calls us for tea, then of course there comes the vodka, and also some food, something that for me is friggione and is eaten with bread.
He's going to Atirau but can't take us over because his truck is not approved for more than two people and says that there is a police check point in Beyneu.
Tomorrow we will try to take the train or another truck.
Mnoga Jarka, indeed more than 50°C! We try again at the station, some sort of ritual, same old story of course. Today is Monday, then we can try to do the registration at the migration office. There is a cue of Uzbeks waiting, after more than one our in the cue they tell us we can't registrer here, we have to go to the office in Atirau, just 500 km away!ウェtry to insist, we enrage, thinking it could work with post-soviet bureaucracy as it works with italian, but no way. We call the Italian Embassy, and it's immediately clear that people are paid to sit in a villa and maybe spend Sundays at the golf club. Really crap, but to insult someone in your own language is a great satisfaction after four months.
Brief explanation about registration in Kazakhstan: once in the country you have five days to get to a migration bureau and get a stupid stamp on a stupid card they give you at the border, if you don't you get fined an unspecified amount of money (maybe up to the officer there), we saw people fined 100$ for each day late. Since we arrived around 11:45pm on friday we lost one entire day for 15 minutes (lucky guys) and then saturday and sunday the office where closed... so
we have to run, tomorrow is the last day to register!
We stop at 80 kilometers from Atyrau, we take a bath in an old parking for truckers. Water is warmed with live fire from the guy outside, old style. We try to pay the bath for Methin but he gets really upset, never try to pull out your wallet in front of a truck driver! We sleep in the truck, not so comfortable, very hot, we regret not using the tent tonight. Methin will take us to Atyrau tomorrow, and wait for us as we go to do this blamed registration, so we can continue with him until Uralk. We love truck drivers.
We arrive at in town around 11am, it's again another oil factory town, with the biggest oil field discovered in the last 40 years just nearby, and with actors from all over the world came here to exploite this resources, with the Italian Eni in the front line (if you want to know more we racomend this article: Giant oil field in Kazakhstan it's a tickin time bomb). We stop in a parking lot, leave all the stuff on the truck and take a cab looking for the migration bureau, no one knows where it is. On the third attempt we find him, fortunately the driver is Chechen and perhaps for this reason he knows where to go. Outside the building there is no sign, not even a flag. So here are the coordinates of this elusive office, it they didn't change location in the meanwhile.
Atyrau Migration Bureau coordinates: N 47 06'15.9" E 051 55'34.9"There we meet four Romanian motorcyclists, they also had their problems with registration and are two days late, they had to pay a hundred dollars apiece for fine and have been waiting since yesterday for the registration. We jump on a taxi back to the truck, take bikes and stuff and greet our wonderful driver. We don't know how long we must wait for the stamp so we cannot let him sit there and wait all day!
Back to the office, we waiting for the reopening after the lunch break.
At 15 we get our stupid stamp!
We end up sleeping on the third floor, on top of the beds, in the baggage shelf, less than 1.5 meter long and with no more than 40cm of air from the roof. Very comfortable! And they seem to forget abou the shower. But at least tomorrow morning we'll be in Aktobe.