05 June 2008

The Vegetable Traders

After the accident, we had a day to recover in Irkutsk. When waiting in line to cross from China into Russia, some Azeri guy had come up and introduced himself to us. He was a truck driver but was a former racing champion of some sort. Anyway, he lived in Irkutsk and asked that we look him up when we arrive. We actually saw him and his truck a couple of times between the Chinese border and Irkustk, and he made us promise to meet up with him in Irkutsk.

I called Amil when we got in town and he said he would pick us up in the afternoon. I talked Stuart into coming, and Amil took us out to Lake Baikal after picking us up in one of the fancy boxy Mercedes SUVs. Amil drove about 100 mph, with little regard for the fact that there were other vehicles on the road. Kinda scary. Anyway, he was very nice, and invited to take us back to his restaurant in Irkutsk. We agreed, and asked that he stop to pick up Tom on the way.

Once we'd picked up Tom, Amil took us to the restaurant--to get to it we had to pull into this dark, deserted factory complex, Stuart and Tom looked a little concerned but I had a good feeling about Amil. Anyway, the restaurant was tucked into a corner of this complex and was quite good. When we arrived we were joined by a couple of Amil's colleagues, a young guy, and briefly the "chief" who looked like a cheap gangster out of hollywood casting. These guys were some kind of Azeri vegetable traders-cum-mafia. Anyway, things were going fine, and then more guys showed up--fellow truck driver and other managers from Amil's organization. It was a great time, with lots of drinking, toasts, and good will. Several of the guys had just gotten out of prison.

Next we went to a banya. More drinking. slipped on wet tile and cut my elbow, bleeding like a stuck pig. Finally went home very late after a very good time.

Sorry, forgot my camera so no pix!

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