Everyone keeps asking how did we get robbed? How did we not notice that the bag that was used as a pillow was gone until the next morning? What was the exact order of things? How were you this sick in the mountains, they're not that high?
Even in the initial post we kept going on about how it was so hazy and didn't make sense and we don't quite recall things and tried filling in the blanks.
It started with one person mentioning gypsies tend to use gas.
Then it was another.
On the ferry to Kazakhstan, we talked to a group of 20 truckers who didn't know each other, and they all adamantly agreed this was the norm. Literally EVERY time we've ever told this story afterwards, the first question by the locals was "gas?"
The more we think about it, the more we're convinced it's true.
1. Justin is usually the level headed one and he was in a worse off place than I was. I had taken altitude sickness pills which increase oxygen intake. I wasn't all there, but I was more so aware and worried that something wasn't right even though I couldn't figure out what it was while:
2. Justin couldn't stay awake no matter how much I kept trying to get him up that night.
3. We were both unwell headwise the next morning and assumed it was the altitude but we've been to mountains twice the height since and he was completely fine.
4. Apparently this is a super common tactic they use.
5. Justin wakes up quickly. The slightest sound makes him sit up and all grogginess is generally instantly gone. There was no sharpness or alertness to any of the conversation that night that we still can't quite exactly piece together.
6. The cops were baffled every time we mentioned altitude as the reason saying it shouldn't have affected us much.
We obviously can't test for this, or confirm, but all signs point towards it. At the very least it alleviates some of the guilt, the stupidity we've felt and kicked ourselves for. It still doesn't excuse it and we still feel dumb to have been fooled for someone who generally travels well and smart, but at least it was something out of our control.
Not sure if that's a good thing or not. But we are now back, out of any potential gypsy or bandit zone (russia and Mongolia are pretty big for it too) so it seemed as good a time as any to post this.
If you've been reading the blog, you probably noticed our paranoia since. Although we wouldn't say it's straight up PTSD (someone messaged me about that), it'll be a long time before we get over this and become comfortable around strangers. We are constantly looking over our shoulders and checking everything 10 times. We have been discussing this trip and how despite it still being amazing, we didn't get the most out of it and didn't have many of the experiences we expected from previous blogs and have had umpteen opportunities and turned down. From turning down a stay with an old lady in her cabin to having a campfire with someone who bent over backwards to make our stay as pleasurable as possible and just assumed he was out to get us.
Many examples we haven't gone into, but it's an interesting perspective and something to think about.
That said, no ragrets. Although we keep weighing the things we didn't do that we wanted to, it's important to look up and remember the things we did see. This trip was incredible, humbling, eye opening, and challenging. It was an endurance test, it was one of, if not THE, hardest things either of us has ever had to do.
And despite the fact that we didn't get as far as we expected before we even started, we got a lot further than expected all things considered. We really made it work and it made one hell of a story.
So thank you for following us, for believing in us, and for cheering us on when we needed it most.