We arrived in Uzbekistan (after the lunch break of the border office) tired, Fanchon was sick, with headwind and blazing sun. We stopped at the first cafe to rest. They offered us a tea. When we felt better, we rode again. On the road we met a couple by bicycle, Dimitri and Gulnara. Their project is to travel only with muscle power. They planned to cross the Persian gulf by kayak ! They reminded us the rule for tourists in this country: to register every night in a hotel under threat of a fine and it’s forbidden to sleep at home. Shame!
Ok, let’s go to the next town to find a hosting. Fail: the only motel was closed. It was dark and we were in the center of an urban area. After asking to indifferent policemen, we decided to ask in homes. A couple with a dozen of children accepted to host us. To make the communication easier, they called their English teacher neighbor as a translator. We understood that they are teachers of Russian and mathematics and the children are the students. The area around Bukhara is well-known for its knowledge. Lot of students come here to find a teacher: English, mathematics, Russian
The English teacher Dylia offered to spend the evening together. We would like but we had ever asked to the couple, we are embarrassed. Dilya asked for us if they accepted we left, they refused. Then they asked us how much we will pay to stay, we had the choice. We offered an amount and they wanted more. When we understood they offered to Dilya to pay for stay with us, we leapt. We are not goods! We took our freedom to spend the night in Dilya’s home with her three kids. We talked a lot, she was a real ray of sunshine. She made us taste her delicious grape.
Ouzbékistan fired our imagination thanks to its towns on the silk road like Bukhara and Samarkand. With their mosques, medersas and shrines, they are beautiful. But their excessive restoration made them museum-cities. Their soul disappeared. In Samarkand, new walls hide old residential quarters from the touristic centre.
We met some tourists. Thank you Yannick and Anchelie to bring back to France our bulky stuff and Xavier a Swiss doctor for his medical expertise. We met again in both cities our favorite Belgium cyclist, Luc. We learned that for cyclists, sleep in hotel only one night on three is enough. We preferred this rule, we followed it.
In Samarkand, a hotel claimed that a registration is necessary every night and offered to register our previous nights if we pay of course! Then they offered us their taxis and lot of attractive services. We smelt the trap and the cupidity of the manager so we decided to find another place. But with different excuses, he didn’t want to give back our passeports. After 10 minutes and when we became to be angry, finally he gave our liberty back.
Here we felt the heat. We woke up before the sunrise. Dust was everywhere and the water inside our bottles was boilling. Between Bukhara and Samarkand, the road was terribly flat. The landscape was mainly made of cotton fields.
Roads were filled with small identical vans. They were used as taxi or to carry everything. We met many Uzbekistan people on bicycle. The kids liked to escort us on hundreds meters. We found Uzbekistan people very curious but quite bad in communication. They were often disconcerted because we didn’t speak Russian, Uzbek, Tadjik: nothing! We were very sick of people who whistled at us to get a hello or people who starred at us several minutes without telling a word.
Sometimes it was difficult to find a place to pitch our tent because it seemed there is people everywhere at anytime. One night we were invited by a funny man very good at mime. His wife was the daughter of Mac Tyson because supposedly she hit him when he drink too much vodka. We laughed this night. As the name of Fanchon was too difficult, he called her Eiffel. If the name Fanchon is notable in France, it’s not the same in the rest of the world. Since the beginning of our trip, nobody succeed to pronounce it.
After Samarkand, the landscape became better. The fields were replaced by hills filled by donkeys and shepherds. A backwind helped us to make a new record: 130 km in a day. We found alive cities again with markets and bazaars. The last Town Denov seemed to be only a huge bazaar. Police controls were more and more common when we approached the Tadjikistan border.
One morning on the road, we were surprised by a kind of celebration in a village. We understood it was the circumcision of two young boys. We were immediately invited to the table of honor in front of the musical band. Fanchon was the only woman. She got a scarf on her head and Gabriel got a golden scarf around his waist. That’s it, we were integrated! The table was full of food but we received food again! The atmosphere was incredible! People came to eat and congratulated the families. Then some of them left once they ate enough and were immediately replaced by new guests. The other stayed to continue the party. We were invited to dance with the two boys and their fathers in front of the band. People gave them some money in their pockets or under their hats. Obviously, it was traditional. They put also some banknotes in our pockets, it was embarassing. People thanked us, we didn’t know exactly why and they told they were happy to see us. At 10 am, we left with food in our bags, smiling, full and drunk without alcohol!
This last experience lighted up our stay in Uzbekistan which was a bit dark. As other met travelers, this country disappointed us a bit because of its lack of authenticity. We didn’t feel very good with people.
At the border, meticulous check of all our bags and our pictures on the camera and the tablet. As we were informed, the most sensitive photos were hidden before. We left Uzbekistan for Tadjikistan on August the 26th.