For an hour we all stayed in complete silence. Sometimes I would hear a groan from the back seat. Camel’s son, a boy who appeared to be six years old, was sleeping heavily between Paulo and Edgar.
“What am I doing here? Would someone be able to recover our pictures and videos if we fell down the cliff? My mom would go crazy if she had to come to this godforsaken place to fetch my body. I wonder if many people di –”
“Wow! The wheels are passing less than one inch from the edge of the track!” My thoughts were interrupted by Edgar’s sudden astonishment.
“Tell him to turn around and go back to Bukhara. Look at the crag right here. Look at this! Look at this,” said Paulo in Portuguese – well, every time we spoke among the three of us we did it in our mother tongue – and pointed through the closed window.
“I also would like to go back but I haven’t seen a place where we could make the turn,” I said.
“This driver is insane,” said Edgar while trying to look further down the cliff.
“Oh my god! What now? Will two cars pass on this road?” Paulo asked when he saw two points of light appearing far away on the road.
“I don’t know. The driver doesn’t seem worried,” I shrugged my shoulders.
“But is he going to pull over and let the other car pass?” Edgar slumped in the seat and stiffened.
“He must be used to do that. Look at his son sleeping like a potato sack,” I laughed.
“Guys, the other car isn’t slowing down either,” Paulo said and poked me on the shoulder.
“Now he looks worried. I think he is going to pull over,” I said.
“OK? OK?” I asked the driver and pointed to the headlights coming in our direction.
“OK. No problem,” he answered with the faintest nod, without looking away from the road. Then, he finally slowed down.
“What now? The other car has also stopped,” Edgar said.
“Maybe it’s a duel to decide who is the bravest,” I said. It was supposed to be a joke, but I didn’t laugh. Neither did my friends.
“I am getting out of the car,” grumbled Edgar, “I don’t want to see that,” and he opened his door.
“No, no,” the driver yelled and waved Edgar to stay seated.
“The other car is coming,” I said without knowing if it was a good or a bad thing.
“Are they really going to chit chat here, now?” Edgar complained when our driver opened his window and started talking to the other driver that had just stopped next to our car.
“Friend, friend,” grinned Camel, and we took the road again.
I looked behind and saw the other car lights being swallowed by the darkness.
“If two more cars come our way I might have a heart attack,” I mumbled.
“And I will never pass this terrifying road again, ever,” confessed Edgar with his trembling voice.
“Oh! That’s why all the other cars coming this way were four-wheel drive,” concluded Paulo with an afflicted smile.
“We are so stupid! How come we didn’t realize that there?” I cried out, “There were fifteen cars waiting for passengers to Pajakent and this was the only one that wasn’t four-wheel drive.”
“I would have paid ten times more to get a safer car if I had the slightest idea that the road would be like this,” said Paulo, who was also the expedition’s bookkeeper.