My stomach feels a bit queasy, but not that bad, but not that good. I manage to sleep on and off till sometime in the middle of the night, at which point I struggle to open the tent. Tama stirs.
“What are you doing?”
“Throwing up,” I manage.
“It’s cos of that filthy shit you ate,” he replies, then falls back to sleep. “Oh yeah,” I think, “all that filthy peasant boy shit.” I vomit prodigiously, like a teenager drinking white cask wine on a bellyful of fish-and-chips. It amazes me how many litres of barely-digested rice and cabbage can pass back up my throat and out onto the moonlit field. There are sharp stabbing pains in my guts – I’m worried that the puking will be joined by spray-shitting – so I struggle into my warm clothes, put my jacket on back-to-front over my head, and stagger out into said moonlit field, stumble around retching, take my pants off, find out that’s not necessary, I’m still constipated, thank christ.
A couple of hours later, there is a loud slurping and gulping noise, practically in my ear. “Bear?! … horse,” I think. The noise of a prodigious horse piss slamming into the tent, confirms my hypothesis. i unzip the tent – not one of my smartest moves – and it’s a delirious nightmare of voimt, horse piss, stallion whinnying in the moonlight. fucked iup.
I wake up feeling less than refreshed. I’m not in the best shape to cycle 90ks down a main road, but we don’t really have a choice, so I just “get back on the horse”, as the saying goes. And after three weeks in the saddle, my bike practically rides itself – not fast, but fast enough.
We stop for lunch at a depressing truck stop diner, Tama than me are blessed by a Mongolian motorcyclist-monk, who places his hands on each side your face, breathes onto your forehead, then runs his hands down your head and shoulders. It’s great, just what I need. A couple minutes later, some drunken peasant tells Tama he’s a monk, and demands money. This is slightly less thrilling, and encourages us to bail out of there.
This day is hard, I can’t really remember much of it, presumably I look pretty seedy in the photos. During one particularly rugged uphill, Tama takes off ahead, trying to outrun a big dirty benzine truck. I keep to my slow pace, and curse. Loudly. I don’t have the energy to summon any of my comforting “happy place” fantasies (Happy Place One: I’m lying in a field of wild-flowers, naked, watching Laura float down out of the sky towards me, a triple-X Mary Poppins wearing a bell-shaped dress and no panties … Happy Place Two: I’m lying on my parents’ couch, with a beer, watching The Wire … Happy Place Three: Baltimore. Thinking about poor Omar, and that crazy McNulty – will he ever learn?). My saddle is sore, my stomach is sore, my hed is pounding. “FUCKING CUNT!” I yell at the top of my lungs, at the hill, at Tama, at myself, at Mongolia, at nothing. This kind of helps, so I do it again.
We make it to within 40kms of Moron, and camp out in a nice rocky field. The trip is almost over, and I’m ready for it to end. By some miracle we were sold fresh eggs in a diner, so it’s burnt fried eggs on toast for dinner. Heaven.