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.

Crossing the Amy DaryaWe 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.

Tashkent

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.

Our hostessThe 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 -