Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The baths were spread out in batches. Sadly, Sophie and Luo Qun were the only two women. The best way was for several men to wash together, which would help to save fuel.
Li Du and Steve were the first to enter. In this primitive environment, people would just go in to bathe together stark naked, with no thought about privacy.
Steve laughed self-deprecatingly. “I’ve lived more than thirty years, man, and since I was able to take a shower by myself, I have never done it in the same room with anyone else.”
“Is that so? Then who asked me to accompany him to the bubble bath until he was fourteen? And to rub his back?”
Steve spread his hands and laughed. “Oh, no, uncle Elson, please take care of my reputation… damn, is this the bathroom?!”
They pushed the door open and went in. Steve was shocked.
It was a small wooden house, built out of logs and covered with a thick layer of plastic, with only two small windows in the eastern and southern walls.
The windows were tiny, designed to keep heat from escaping.
There was a fire pit in the middle of the bathroom. The flames were big and strong.
There was a mound of pebbles, large and small, piled together, with hot steam streaming out of it like fog, which made the visibility in the room extremely poor.
( Boxno vel. co m ) As soon as the door opened, Li Du’s face became wet with the hot steam.
“What…what is this?” Steve was stunned. “Where’s the bathtub? Uh, how are we supposed to wash without a tub or shower? Where’s the heater?.”
Li Du looked at him scornfully. “Do you mean to explore the taiga with such an attitude? Where would there be a bath in such a place? Where’s the extra power to keep the heater going?”
Steve whined, “So what is this thing? A sauna?”
Just as they were exchanging these words, a big old man with a white beard came in, pushing a cart. He saw the door open and said in very thickly accented English, “No, no, no!”
Li Du and the others hurried in. The steam was coming out. It was really a waste.
The old man pushed the cart into the bathhouse. Their translator said a few words to him, and then helplessly told the crowd, “This is a banya, a Russian steam sauna. First, we go into the sauna, and when you are hot, dig up some snow and rub on your body.”
The cart was full of snow, which was very clean and looked pure white and free of pollution.
The old man scooped some water and sprinkled it on the hot pebbles. The stones were so hot that the water turned to steam at once. In the hot, steamy atmosphere, Li Du immediately started perspiring.
Steve didn’t want to use the banya. His heart condition meant that he was prone to have a heart attack in a sauna.
The interpreter went to the old man and asked him for a large tub of hot water. Steve could not stay long in a sauna, he could only take a regular bath.
The old man, who looked like a tough nut, said with a disdainful expression, “How can banya cause a heart attack?”
“Damn, this type is ignorant,” said Steve.
Li Du did not fuss. He thought this kind of steam sauna was pretty cool. He steamed for a while, waited until his whole body flushed red, and then grabbed the snow that has not yet melted and rubbed his heated skin.
Li Du almost died of shock from the contrast between heat and cold!
Feeling the sweat and dust on his body had washed away, he quickly wiped himself off. This was not the kind of bath he imagined; it was really uncomfortable.
Fortunately, the lunch was very rich. There was a big pot of stew, bright red vegetable soup, thick Russian sausage, smoked fish, grilled fish, and fried fish. The vegetables are relatively few, and only in a pickled form such as cucumbers and sauerkraut.
The only exception was the green chili peppers which the residents of the Zimovye grew themselves on their windowsills.
Green pepper was rich in vitamins and was a particularly important vitamin C supplement for them.
Then there was alcohol namely vodka, and of course samogon, a strong home-distilled spirit.
Li Du was good at drinking, but he could not keep this brew down. He drank one mouthful, which burned his palate like fire. When the drink slipped down into his belly, he felt as if his insides were all scorched!
After drinking a mouthful, Li Du could not help exclaiming, “That’s some strong stuff!”
Steve took a sip, gasped, and choked.
The Nenets people sipped their drinks carefully, nursing each glass for an hour.
However, the homemade vodka was perfect for warming up, and Li Du took another sip, feeling the heat radiate from his stomach to the rest of his body.
Of course, reasonable people would not dare to drink the fiery liquid, which could cause a gastric perforation.
The party spent nearly two hundred thousand rubles in the camp. Fortunately, taking the exchange rate into consideration, it was not that much.
Here the purchasing power of money was relatively low. The price of diesel was two to three times more expensive than usual, and the price of coal and coke was also expensive, but dried meat, sausage, and other meat products were relatively cheap.
Another cheap thing was wood. Because the party spent a lot of money, the hunters were generous enough to give them a lot of wood. They were allowed to carry off as much as they could and did not need to pay for it.
So, when the convoy hit the road again, the roof was heaped with chopped wood.
The old man was sorry to see them go, but he told them to come back to him often, and that next time he would prepare a reindeer for them to eat.
Li Du could understand this kind of feeling. They spent two hundred thousand rubles in one go, and Savich could make a fortune if they came more often!
The forest was fertile, and Siberia had plenty of water. There were many ponds among the grass plains and the rivers spread out like cobwebs.
“It’s like the veins of the earth,” Sophie said as she watched the rivers and streams along the way.
After the winter, the rivers were still covered with ice. Sometimes they would go fishing, and when they broke the ice surface on top of the river, freshwater fish would appear underneath.
The roads were so bad and the cars drove so slowly, sometimes crossing bumpy stretches of hills, that they often crawled at the speed of eight or ten kilometers an hour.
After two more days of this, they finally reached Evenk.
The vast Tunguska River appeared before them, flowing swiftly and without ice, though it had tributaries that remained frozen.
They stopped the car and went to the river to find a place to fetch water and wash their faces. Then, just as they reached the river, Ah Meow, who was following Li Du, jumped forward, raised his paws and cried, “Meow!”
Li Du took a look and saw fish!
Big and small fish could be seen swinging their tails freely in the clear stream.
Others spotted them one by one, and Steve laughed. “Ha, we can have fresh salmon for lunch today!”