Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan
Day 7 -
Friday, 28 April 2000
Amu Darya River
In the morning we crossed the Amu Darya river over the pontoon
bridge, and rode some very dilapidated taxis to get to a middle school. For a
little while we could feel like celebrities, as the students wanted our
autographs. We visited classrooms, including a computer room where about a
dozen young girls were playing "Tetris." We were not sure if this is a regular
part of the curriculum to teach them hand-eye coordination, or if the teacher
had just sent them there to look busy because they had visitors.
We walked across the Amu Darya on this pontoon bridge. The
river is so low that some of the pontoons are resting on the bottom.
We visited an English class, and the children had a chance to
practice some of their questions with us. Also, a few read from their English
books. At this stage, they mostly seem to be memorizing. When such students
also have an opportunity to practice with an English speaker, they become very
adept with the language.
We ate lunch at the hotel, then almost everyone took a much-needed
nap. Later in the day we had a brief visit to a market before going to the
airport to fly to Tashkent. Even the smallest of local markets is very colorful
and interesting, and our brief forays only touch the surface of what is there.
Jim found something he had been looking for. In Ashgabat, he took a photo of a
billboard advertising BARF, and had been searching for some since then. Barf
means "snow" in Farsi we were told, and this brand name is for detergent and
household cleanser, such as our Comet.
After we arrived in Tashkent and checked into a very nice hotel,
we went for dinner in a neighborhood. The bus moved slowly down the narrow
lane, carefully past the trees and especially around corners.
The woman, in whose home we ate, is 71
years old. She lives in the house with her son and his wife, as well as a
daughter who was mentally damaged by some medical treatment. There is also a
new baby who gets lots of attention.
The woman's father was a poet, a writer and politically active in
the early 20th century, when the Bolsheviks were taking over the country. He
was arrested, and was killed in 1937. This daughter worked very hard to have
his case reopened and his name cleared. After independence, she was successful,
and now he is a hero. A monument and a park have been built in his honor. As
she told us the story, we all sat fascinated. Unfortunately none of us thought
to turn on a recorder to capture the story.
It was very late when we arrived at the hotel, and I found that I
was too tired to rest, in spite of the fact that the room is so very nice, so
clean and the bed is so comfortable. This resulted in my choosing to stay at
the hotel the next day and catch up on my sleep, while Jim went on with the
group to some very interesting things.
- Continues with Day 8 -