Today Silvia has dreamt that we were in Madrid, in a bar at night with some of our friends. All the description is diffused from what she’s dreamt. What she’s got clear is that we were there with our backpacks on. We dressed a bit more elegant that what we have during the trip, I guess she had make up, and both with the backpacks as if it would be the most normal thing in the world.
I find the dream funny, mainly because I have some paranoiac obsession with the small day backpack. I carry it all day long, it’s an extension of me. It had part of my money, my credit cards, my precious passport, the camera and the laptop. I have breakfast, have lunch and dinner with it next to me. It’s electric blue and is always in my sight, even now it’s more a gray with some blue. If I go out, to do something quick, without it, I have the feeling that I’ve lost it, and a freezing goose pimple feeling comes all over my body, that’s why I find Silvia’s dream funny.
We are in Osh. Osh has got into the international press recently due to the etnic problems that arose this year. I´ve asked but nobody has been able to explain to me exactly what happened here in July in the conflicts. How did it start? “Ethnic tensions”. But, Who started? Why this time? I’ve met an Australian journalist that has come to write an article about it but he does not have the answers either. Now it seems all is more stable and that the recent elections have been peaceful and there are no more confrontations. There’s a lot of Uzbeks (the minority here) that have left, but there’s tension still. However for tourist it’s an incrediblely pleasant place with kind people.
Some disconcerting images you can see.
The importance of Osh in the silk road was it’s location.. Most of the caravans from Kashgar in China came thorough Osh as Kashgar-Osh is one of the best passes throught the mountains that separated China from the west. From here there were two posibilities: continue north west towards Uzbekistan or go south to cross Tayikistan to the west. Later on these two routes would join in Samarkand or continue west a bit more in the south via Iran.
What we feel more like seeing is the market. Centuries before attracted hundreds of caravans, now it’s mainly a local market, with local products and a relative number of tourists. I don’t find postcards to send home so there are not that many tourists.
One of the guys that works in the hostel has been a year in Korea (a lot of them go for work there) he says that all is different now, that Uzbeks just think on killing Kyrgyzs and the opposite. What a pity. In the streets I don’t feel that much tension and seems quite normal but I can’t really talk with that many people due to the language barrier.
Walking towards the market we see burned buildings, this was the most affected area in the July conflict, the Uzbek shops were burned and owners had to run away. What we see is a calcinated shade of what the market was. There’s only a third of what was before.
Uzbeks ask for help, the borders that Stalin drew in the Fergana valley didn’t take the etnical groups into account. They differentiated language some times, or things like stepe and mountain, but, as in other old republics, the borders give problems now.
We are with Claudio, an Italian guy that we’ve met in the gueshouse. He left Italy a few months ago and he’s trying to beat the world guinness record travelling with a 49 cc motorcicle. Here is his web site if you want to look at it.
There’s a scooter that overtakes us. I tell Silvia that I haven’t seen one in weeks or months, an instant later we see Claudio, that was a bit behind us, running chasing it to stop it. We say “this crazy Italians”. But he needs a mechanic, his motorcicle broke down a couple of days ago reaching the Chinesse border.
Other soviet memory.
A plane in a park.
The circle may reminds you to something. Here you have a very similar picture I got in Uzbekistan. Represents the center of the ceiling of a yurt. It’s an icon of it’s nomad past… and it’s semi-nomad present.
We thought the same.
Silvia’s time is coming to an end, she’s got to come back to Bishkek to go back to Spain. In the early morning I go with her to the station where the shared taxis depart. One of the passengers says hello in english, he seems very nice. He has studied international relationshisp and is very talkative. Silvia and I say good bye, I think I´ve left her in good hands.
I come back to the hostel, I want to stay here a quiet day to upload the blog and prepare China, it’s not easly finding time for the blog when I have a visit. I talk with Claudio that is still here. He’s got problems with his motorcicle, apart from the mechanical problem, he’s got a logistical problem. He wanted to get into China with it but he’s asked 5000 euro that he doesn’t want to pay. He’s come to Osh to see how he can continue the trip, and to fix his yellow motorcycle.
While his motorcycle is being fixed he thinks on how to get it into China. For sending it he’s asked for too much as it’s considered a dangerous goods due to the engine and the gas tank (even empty). He is thinking on trying another border, maybe bringing it by train to see if the customs control let it in without him paying. Maybe sending it with no tank and engine and buying a new one there. An if a Chinesse citizen drives it into his own country?… I help him to think about all types of alternatives, but none sounds very feasible. He may have to stop the meter and finish his adventure here.
Trying to hitch to China this man comes to help. In the end he happends to be a non-helpful “protector” a species that is not very common but exists. Took me a while to realize that he was drunk at 9 a.m.. Maybe that’s why he was saying hello to every body saying his military rank and his full name. The situation is a bit embarrassing.
From Osh to Sari Tash I travel by a small part of the “Pamir Highway. This road comes from Uzbekistan crossing all Tajikistan by a pass that is 4655 meters high. My way just reaches a bit over 3000 meters and the landscape is amazing, just can imagine how the Tajik part can be.
Natural combustible, jack poo.
In Sari Tash I stay in a very simple guesshouse. My room is a floor with carpet and this stove that is scarry.
A resistor directly connected to power rolled on a concrete tube piece. I hope not to touch it.
I eat some fried bread that the woman has given me. I thank her as much as I can, I had not many Sums and she’s let me sleep anyway. I open a tuna can I had on the backpack for weeks and it tastes super good to me. It comes to my head the rice puding, Kyrgyz recipe I had yesterday mmmm would be a perfect dessert.
The village is at a very high altitude and looking at the village, winter here is more survival than anything else. The cold is terrific. Here the truck ways get divided. Tajikistan to the right and China to the right. Apart from the place where I sleep, there is another a bit farther, gravel roads with sheep, goats, ice, two cafes and the gas station. It’s getting dark, I’d otherwise go for a hike to a mountain to see another view of this dramatic landscape.
I realize that I haven’t been surprised that there were no beds in the room. In a side there was a pile of pseudomatresses, I’ve taken one and put it near the stove and I’ve put a blanket on top. In fact the place is very cosy and has made me feel good as soon as I’ve step in. It is now I’ve realized it had no bed, well, it does not have a shower either, and the toilet is 15 meters away over ice. I hope I don’t need to go for a wee wee at night. I go to sleep.
Before leaving Central Asia I want to tell you about a historic episode that happened here and I haven’t found a place for it in the posts. During the XIX century, Central Asia was the southern edge of the Soviet empire. More to the south, not that many kilometres away, there was the British empire. Both super powers were worried about their borders and the advance of the other empires borders. This land where the scenery of cold war that was called “The Great Game”. The history tells intricate plots of spies incognito charting mountains and taking notes about strategic places. Spies disguised as pilgrims to be unnoticed and spies that met other spies and hide their identities.
It was a competition, a fight for power, a fight for the land in which there was a lot of tension. Now you read about men on horseback that took days to go from a place to another to know what was there because these lands were very unknown for every body. It sounds naïve, “Your mission is to go to Kyrgyzstan, get a horse and spend two months crossing the country to tell us what’s there. If you are found we´ll deny your existence”. This image of spies sounds far from 007 but they also had the best technology of the time with miniaturized charting tools, compasses and other tools. Let’s see if WikiLeaks releases some documents so we can get to know what really happened.
I’ve spent my last hours in Kyrgyzstan in a trailer. I’m happy, the first truck that has come has taken me. They offer me sunflower seeds, they become my breakfast. Lot´s of trucks get goods from the border. even Kyrgyzstan is plagued with Chinesse products.
I take some pictures, get some video and enjoy the landscape. This range is as beautiful as I imagined. I feel sad mountains are finishing, my chinesse itinerary is going to be a lot flatter.
Wait! China is the last country, how fast has this all gone!
Even here Kyrgyzstán cronicals finish, the next post won’t be China, will be a short video about one of the most surprising things of this small country.
Soon back here.