Dear Ilona

Truly, the Maitian Hostel threw me in front of individuals who were to change the course of the journey I am undertaking. It was at this hostel, a relaxed haven from the armed guards and tanks of Urumqi, China that I met both Gonzalo and Ilona. I joined the former – a hitchhiker famous among his Argentine countrymen and women – the day after we met for six hundred kilometres of thumbing through China’s far northwest. However, my journey with Ilona wasn’t to start so quickly. We agreed to rendezvous in a few weeks time, in a different country and a different region, for a two thousand kilometre bicycle ride.

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The man

The man came into focus behind me on the road. It had been a while since I had faced the rear in a vehicle, but this had little else in common with being turned around in the back of an old station wagon. The man eventually overtook us but he didn’t seem rushed. He drove alone. His was full of hay, ours was full of new friends.

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