The Highland mayor
It was late afternoon as we wearily jogged into the village, high in the foothills of the mountain. We have been caught out by this sudden cold spell. Dressed in shorts, and thin windbreakers, our fingers swollen from the altitude and cold, wind stinging our faces we found the support crew. They had been absconded by the local mayor from the area. The villagers were standing in rows eagerly watching as the crew set camp on the village square under the mayor’s supervision.
Hardly having had time to dress warmly, we were being shunted around into position to pose with the mayor and his side kicks. Braam and I were on either side of him as we posed for picture after picture (his hand firmly placed on our butts, we were not sure if it was our butts or the posing he preferred) the crew just had to photograph and film as he bellowed instructions to them.
Next was the tour of the town, really old and in a state of decay, but with some incredible pieces of the wall inside and quite an amazing history, We walked, but the mayor was chauffer driven in his old VW, sitting in the back seat with his massive smile as he drove all of 800 m to the end of the town , following behind him was the Doc from our crew playing his Austrian folk music on the accordion, with all the village kids dancing with him – The pied piper. One of the most outrageous sites I have ever seen.
Finally we ate and retired to our tents early as it was freezing, about -2 .The village kids still pumped with the excitement played around our tents peeping in and just having fun until it finally got dark.
Just as we were bedding down, all hell broke loose; there was frantic screaming and people running in all directions. It was dark and we did not know what was happening. Suddenly we heard it, a runaway tractor came hurtling down past the tents, bumping and bouncing as people tried to catch it as it rumbled on down towards the village and into the night. This was then followed by some motorcycles hurtling between the tents and down towards the tractor growling away into the night, the shouting and commotion fading into the distance. It was an evening I would find hard to script.
Peace at last, rolling over I felt the sleep swirl through me as l dozed off and tried to comprehend the past few hours since arriving in the village. The next thing l knew, l was sitting straight up in my tent, the loudest bellowing donkey mating call I have ever heard right at the opening to my tent. My heart was pounding as I slowly tried to piece together where I was and what the hell was going on. Slowly the donkey moved off bellowing into the night, leaving my to slowly try and regroup, relax and focus on trying to get to sleep.
Sleep came slowly, dreaming about the day the open plains, horses galloping across them. Suddenly, hundreds of hooves galloping towards me and around my tent. I shot up this time I was sweating, was this the rebirth of the Mongols in my dream or what! I shot over and unzipped the tent and shone my torch out into the howling cold windy night. Beady shinny glaring eyes, in my half comatose state, I was convinced it was them. Then the bleat, a heard of damn sheep had got frightened in the night and bolted.
Awake now and feeling if I did not relive my bladder, the next thing that happened was bound to turn my tent into a waterbed. I stood at the edge of the square in the howling freezing wind and tried to refocus on the events.
To top it all, I turned around in the dark and swirling wind, somehow getting a bit misdirected, loosing my bearings and ended up climbing into Braam’s tent, you can imagine the comments the next morning.