But instead of delivering the promised capitalist paradise, an overdose of machinery and trade creates a sort of homeless gypsy encampment on the road to Beijing.
"Surprise would have been the last thing expressed by anyone at the way in which the water and supplies were being obtained. The only thing Taunus could do was manage the pot of money and try to barter as best he could. Ford Mercury and Porsche came every night to peddle their provisions; Taunus and the engineer took charge of distributing them, taking into consideration each person’s health. Incredibly, the old woman in the ID was still alive, lost in a stupor the women were trying to dissipate. The lady in the Beaulieu, who just a few days before had been vomiting and suffering from nausea, had recovered in the cold weather and and was one of those who helped the nun most with her companion, weak still and a little disoriented. The soldier’s wife and the woman from the 203 were minding the children; the travelling salesman, perhaps to distract himself from the fact that the girl in the Dauphine had preferred the engineer, spent hours telling them stories. At night the lives of the group took on a stealthy, more private character; the car doors would open silently to let in or out some shivering silhouette; no-one looked at anyone else, their eyes as blind as their very shadow. Beneath dirty anoraks, with overgrown fingernails, smelling of being confined in stale, old clothes, there was still a degree of happiness here and there."
- translation by Danny Fitzgerald