From the mountains to the steppe in Uzbekistan
A long journey lies ahead of us today. The most direct route over the mountain pass my clients and I are not allowed to take with the bus. (Zum deutschen Blog.) I’m still on a Gebeco (a German tour operator) trip through the Central Asian state of Uzbekistan.
Samarkand is surrounded by high, still snowcapped mountains. So the first part of the drive is scenically very interesting. On the left side the mountains that we have to drive around, rise high into the sky ,on the right lays the desert that extends to the horizon. Everywhere we see shepherds and their cow or Kur-Kum-sheep herds.
Visit at a peasant family
Here the street is in good condition and we are making good progress. Then we turn left, the mountains change into a sweeping hillside. The road is now little more than one lane, we need to reduce speed significantly. In a large village, we take a short break at a peasant family whose women also operate a small weaving mill.
We see how laboriously it is to wove the lambs wool in colorful carpets. That´s right what I need at home in front of my bed….
Of course, we are treated to the ever present green tea and there is no lack of bread baked in a tandoor. What stands out repeatedly is the linguistic talent of many locals. We are addressed everywhere in German, and the lady of the house does negotiate with us in German about the price of their carpets.
Back on the road
The route goes further on over land. The traffic is significantly less, but the road is getting worse. The children and also many people who work in their fields friendly wave at us. Often it is hardly possible to drive faster than walking pace. The rolling hills we have long since left behind. Fertile fields are crisscrossed with numerous canals.
Around noon we arrive in the city Shahrisabz. The old city wall of mud brick is quite easily to recognize. A huge, not as a whole preserved gate from the 14th century shows evidence of the splendor of the building.
Attached today is a beautiful park. For lunch we visit a kind of caravanserai and again I try one of the typical soups.
Then we visit a no longer active mosque from the 14th century, on the other side of the courtyard we see some mausoleums. We are lucky, because a very good German-speaking lady, who has not only studied art history, but also theology, leads us through the complex and explains everything to us. In the end, in one of the tombs she recites from the Koran. Because of the good acoustics there it is an impressive experience.
Through the park we walk to another tomb, which however is very plain. Like everywhere, we are welcomed by business-minded women who want to sell their colorful embroidered bags, hats and blankets to us. As there are many women in our group, one or the other comes into the business.
Now it is time that we get on our way, for the greater part of the drive we still have ahead of us. A downpour makes the farewell easy, our hope that the road gets better is, unfortunately, nullified. For kilometers, we drive next to the newly built road; unfortunately it is not free yet for the traffic.
The landscape is getting meager, the herds of sheep less. From time to time we pass a village; many of the newly built houses look the same. At one of the many petrol stations we stop; it is a good idea to bring your own toilet paper and have some disinfectant wipes with you… While we get spoiled with coffee and tea by our driver Gafur and Nellie, our guide, hands biscuits around. We enjoy ourselves about a white horse that is led to the gas pump. Even one PS needs to be refueled… No, the boy who has just collected the restroom fee from us, uses the there stationed ton as an easy climb onto the horse. No doubt he wants to show us that he can do more than just stand in front of the toilet. Unfortunately, the horse is not very cooperative. First it doesn´t move at all, than it runs off. Only the courageous intervention of the gas station attendant prevents the horse with his young rider to run onto the street.
The sun is already setting and the drive is still long. I admire our driver who tries to drive around every pothole. Shortly before 7 pm the sun goes down like a fireball over the semi-desert.
Late arrival in Bukhara
Nellie gets concerned calls from the hotel and the restaurant, when we ´ll arrive. Shortly after 8 pm we reach Bukhara. Now I know why buses are not allowed to drive after 10 pm. The roads are just too bad, many vehicles drive unlit on the road. Too much can happen.
Our Hotel Lyabi House is a traditional house that is located in the city. At a pond just a few meters away, there is action and music, people bargain, the children are playing. At dinner we talk about the day’s events and look forward to the morning, when we will walk around the ancient city of Bukhara on the Silk Road.