Father-son Fishing on the River Ili

(More on Trotsky’s experiences while internally exiled to Almaty in 1928-9, this time in his own words.)

The River Ili in Eastern Kazakhstan

“My son and I made a trip to the River Ili with the intention of making the fullest possible use of the spring season. This time we took with us tents, skins, fur coats, etc. so that we shouldn’t have to sleep in the native ‘yurtas’. But snow fell again and the weather turned bitter cold. Those were trying days. At night the temperature dropped to fourteen degrees above zero. Nevertheless for nine days we didn’t go inside a house. Thanks to our warm underwear and plenty of warm clothes, we scarcely suffered from the cold. But our boots froze at night, and had to thaw them out over the fire to get them on our feet. The first few days we hunted in the swamp, and after that on the open lake. I had a small tent set up on a little hill where I spent from 12-14 hours a day…but Lyova stood right in the reeds under the trees.

But because of the bad weather and the irregular flights of the game, the trip as a hunt was not a success. We brought back only some forty ducks and a brace of geese. But it gave me an immense amount of pleasure especially this temporary lapse into barbarism, this sleeping in the open air, eating mutton cooked in a pail under the sky, not washing or undressing and consequently not dressing, falling from horseback into the river (the only time I had to undress, under the hot rays of the noon sun), midst of the water and reeds-such experiences do not often come one’s way.”

(From the 2007 Dover English Edition of ‘My Life’ by Leon Trotsky)

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Cristian says:

    Very, very nice! You have my respect for this expedition! Last week me and my friends went in the Danube delta(we are Romanians) and stayed at tend for 4 day sand it was fabulous even if we left without the boat which was just purchased and the engine is not running as it should be but on the 15 of June we are going to return as for the moment fishing is banned as the fish are spooning!
    nice blog!
    best regards

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