Friday, September 20, 2013

Goodbye Ilona

I think we are the only people Igor tolerates. He doesn't answer his calls from his fiends, not even from his sister. "I don't want to talk to anyone, I don't want to do anything". Actually, it was a miracle that one day, he decided to make a big change in his life, he woked up, called his friend who has a car and spent one week drinking vodka at Isyk-keul. Refreshing.

After that big social event he has felt more anti-social than ever... except with us. Today, Ilona is leaving us and it depresses Igor more than it depresses me. Of course, I have my moments of doubt, thinking that this is all a big mistake but at the same time I am looking forward to new things. I am looking forward to travelling alone, people react differently in that case. I am looking forward to meeting Ana, that croatian girl I met in front of the Iranian embassy.
Maybe I should make an intermission and visit the two girls lives before I return to mine so you can better understand the events that follow.
Ana has travelled through Iran with a Polish girl because it was too hard to travel with an iranian guy in Iran. Poor Sol, Ana's hitchhiking partner was completly misunderstood by the local population and all the Farsi in the world couldn't explain the concept of hitchhiking to locals. From our correspondance, it worked better with the Polish girl besides the fact that they kept ending up at police stations for their own safety.
After that, Ana made her way through Turkmenistan alone. SHe managed it wiithout Sylvain, my french contact in Ashgabat which surprised me buy then again, she didn't have to go through Ashgabat. Either way, that girl has guts. And she's there now.

Meanwhile, Nata went west, through Iran. After we separated in Tehran, she made her way to the caspian sea with an iranian friend who lived with us there for a while. They first went to Mashad and then decided to head west, to Turkey and all the way to Istanbul. I often recieved letters from her, first when I was in Kazakhstan and then all the way to Kyrgyzstan. Pretty tight communication for two people who were never supposed to see each other. I actually doubted we would meet in Kyrgyzstan for a long time. You just can't plan that far ahead and Nata is the kind of person who knows a million people and has a million of potential travel parters willing to go to a million of different destinations. I don't even count the million other people who will try to hold her back because they are her friends, aquaintances or simply in love with her. But somehow, the plan seemed to stick and now more than ever, Nata is planning to Kyrgyzstan. She has been sending messages from Antalya, Alanya before she went up north. Alanya, I remember that city, it was a nightmare. Only place I've waited crazy hours while hitchhiking with my cousin. Only place I've fought with my cousin, called her a manipulater because she didn't want to go to Syria. It seems weird, Nata is too exotic to be in such familiar places.
Anyway, Nata has parted ways with this guy in Istanbul and hitchhiked towards the georgian border with two rainbow people from Belarus. This was a piece of luck because in Nata's book, Turkey is one of the worst nightmares. I am revolted by such thoughts, for me, turkey is a safe haven but since she has very compelling evidence to prove her point, it would be heartless to argue about it. I guess there are assholes everywhere and Nata attracts a lot of them.

What about Ilona? Ilona will fly to Istanbul and she will hitchhike to Armenia. Alone. This is brave... and maybe borderline crazy? We would have thought so before but now we feel that we have mastered Turkey so well that nothing can happen. I give Ilona a quick Turkish course. Janela calls. Asyl calls. Everyone wants to meet us, especially Ilona since she goes away.

"These are such fine ladies, I am so sorry I can't see them," Ilona says.

We try to work out a time schedule but in vain. And we have no strength to organise anything. I just decide to accompany Ilona to the airport. I'll spend the night there until she checks in at about 4:30 or 5 AM. Sleepless depressing night. And I'll hitchhike alone to Bishkek. My first Kyrgyz hitchhiking will be at night, pretty cold bath for my first moments alone. But nothing compared with what Ilona will have to face.

For Igor, Ilona going away was a harder blow than for me. At least on the short run. I have been preparing for this mentally since georgia.
He is sad, he thinks about what he can give us. It's not that he would be poor but he just can't find anything in the mess that is his house. He gives Ilona a ton of clothes but she refuses almost all of them. That is Ilona, chronic refuser of all things. I try to up the average by accepting everything, including a completly useless black costume that is too big for me. However I recieve new shoes. They are not the mountain shoes that I need but they are nice shoes to wear for the city.
He accompanies us to the Marshutka when the night falls. He finds us a taxi to the airport for 25 soms each. That's a very good price but we only take it because we know Igor would pay for it otherwise. In the end, the third passenger pays for both of us so that still counts as hitchhiking. We walk until the airport and buy ice cream. The night is going to be long, sleepless and depressing, we need the endorphines.
"Cheers," we say before eating our ice cream, a custom that has appeared since Armenia I believe.
"I'm gonna buy some eggs, I've only fifty dollars in my pocket... I'm... I'm looking for a cover, this is fucking awesome", these are our modified lyrics of a popular song that often plays on Igor's radio. We sing them again with nostalgy.

"What the hell are you doing here?" says Clark as he sees us passing his seat in the waiting room. Miri also turns around, smiley face and yellow hair, you cannot miss her.
We meet Clark and Miri again and they are leaving the country through Ukraine. Clark is going to Berlin and Miri god knows where. I have to send my french passport home. Unfortunately, I left it at Igor's place. I take a taxi back home, I have to go fast. The guy tells me it's 1500 soms there and back. I tell him OK and when at destination I tell him I change my mind, I am walking back. He takes me back for free. Thank god. At home, Igor is drinking his compot, he's already pretty far out. He tells me that I should never give this passport to these germans because they will use it to smuggle drugs god knows where and then I'll be up to my teeth in debt or even in jail.
I say yes to everything, there is no need to argue. Igor let's me go with an evil look at the taxi driver. He calls again several times after I make it to the airport. He is drunk and completly in love with Ilona. But he has some respect.

"I know that I could be her father but if I was ten years younger I would never let you go," he told her on the phone while drinking his compot. The poor guy was in a pretty bad state.
When I came back Clark and Miri were sleeping already. I put my passport in Clark's bag, if I'm lucky he will bring it to Claire in Berlin. I'll have one more option for China.

We wait with Ilona until she goes to the boarding space. Georgian goodbye.
I won't realise how I will miss you until I travel with someone else.But I will miss the safe feeling I have with you, your will to fight the assholes that bother us, the understanding of privacy, your view on religion, our phylosophical discussions, our psychological discussions, your traditional clinging of fists together that I still haven't learned properly, I'll miss the absolute comfort I feel with you without any shame whatsoever, our brotherly relationship ain't that right sis?, I'll miss your great understanding of me, our great communication, our song, our reunifications, your tolerence, ice cream toasts. Hell I'll even miss your censorship of photos, your bitching moods, your ability to be surprised to recieve an invitation even after four months of being bombarded with them.
I know you'll have a hell of a ride starting tomorrow but I also learned not to be afraid for you. You're strong as a tiger (a real one, not a Turkmen one) so give them hell sis!!
And that is exactly how I want to remember you.