The road from Almaty was initially a railway. The town of Kopa is a forgotten stop on the edge of the steppe on the line heading west out of Almaty. Only one train a day stops there and on that particular day I was the only person to get off. It is, however, the nearest town with any sort of public transport to Tambaly, where there are the greatest collection of petroglyphs in Central Asia. OK, perhaps not one to get the hearts racing, but interesting nevertheless. I sat myself down on the road out of town hoping to get a ride the 30km out to the site. At least the tumbleweeds kept me company. My wait wasn't as long as expected and the very first car that passed took me all the way there (hitching is not only reasonably common in Kazakhstan, but I also don't feel uncomfortable asking for a free ride here where the standard of living is significantly higher than the rest of Central Asia). And in a textbook example of things generally working out in the end, as I was wrapping up my visit of the site, and beginning to wonder how the hell I would get out of there, I spied a group of visitors (the only ones to visit that day apart from me) who had obviously come by car. So I went over to see if I could bum a lift, at least to the main highway. They turned out to be a group of 3 Mexicans living in China, a Kazakh girl (girlfriend of one of the Mexicans) and her father. Certainly not people you would expect to meet in the middle of Kazakhstan. Nevertheless they said, sure, they could take me to the highway as they were going back to Almaty that evening anyway. And so once they had finished visiting the site themselves we set off. I was happy as I got to practice my Spanish which was encased in a sizeable coating of rust, but at least I was still able to conjugate the verb chingar in several different levels of impoliteness, which impressed the Mexicans considerably. As we approached the highway Aina (the girl) suggested I come crayfishing with them. It was getting late, it was in my general direction and I had never been crayfishing before (hell, I hadn't even ever seen a live crayfish before) so I heartily agreed.
|Monster from the deep comes face to face with a crayfish.|