The desert had saved it's worst for last in the leg between Beyruni and Bukhara, a 300 km stint in the sand that evaporated morale and bodily fluid equally quickly. June had progressed and we were now almost a 1000 km further South than when the deserts had started, and so the afternoons would be peaking at around 40*C.
Although the road surface was reliable throughout this desert, almost all the other factors were set against an enjoyable and 'pleasant' ride. We found a mirage of comfort at a desert oasis, the found it to be a paradise for mosquitoes, rob was eaten alive through full length clothing - the next day his whole body resembled a bullied teen's acne-ed skin. Our best friend, a 15L silicon water box, fell onto my spinning tire, and the friction caused a hole. This set up a nightmarish cartoon scene: the steady drip of our precious water falling on to the searing asphalt like a ticking time-bomb, creating a dotted line to evaporate soon behind me - an ellipsis of failing hope.
Yet the real villain was the worsening food. Our stove still broken, we were without fire and so our breakfasts and dinners had shifted from omelette feasts and hearty pots of pasta, to toughened chewy bread and cold-soaked oats and barley with powdered stock. The lunch stops we could find were run by people isolated from society by a 100 km of desert scrub, this told in their manner and cooking: smiles and warmth had mostly been eroded by the dusty winds and replaced with gritted teeth and dull eyes. I feel like life in this setting would do this to even a saint. Regarding the food, it seemed that as we progressed one of the handful of existing ingredients would be removed from the meal, like a game of diet Jenga. Here we finally cracked, and asked them to cook our emergency pot noodles, which beat the fat cubes in luke warm-water to dish of the day.
When the scrub turned to trees and the dust to irrigated fields, I tossed away our leaky waterbox in a fit of ecstasy, and with a crazed grin we each gulped down 1.5L bottles of Fanta like Somerset farmers in a late-Summer scrumpy session. So having survived the desert trials, we rolled into the Silk Road City of Bukhara like the merchants' caravans of old, looking to take stock and refill our suplies from the bustling bazaars.