Saturday, July 08, 2006

We made it to Tajikistan!! After Tashkent, we took the train to Bukhara where we stayed for two days (not just because it was a stunningly beautiful city, but also because Andy was rendered imobile by unfriendly bacteria in his stomach). Next we took a taxi to Samarkand. From there we crossed the border to Panjakent, Tajikistan where we strolled the main street and happened upon a music and dance concert!! It was a great mixture of traditional and contemporary: Lip-syncing and keyboards with beautiful singing and drumming. Dancers would periodically appear wearing costumes from different regions. The next day we hired a driver to take us over the pass to Dushanbe. We had no idea what we were in for!! The pass was at 3500 meters and the road was not paved. Amazing and hair-raising!! Upon our arrival in Dushanbe, we found there was no space in any of the inexpensive hotels and we had to fork over some precious cash for a "nice" hotel room. We were saved by our new friend, Munira, who is a key organizer for the project we are going to be working on. She is helping us work through the amazing amount of red tape and burocracy that is involved in staying in Tajikistan. We're now staying with the super sweet Sharafat, a local dance instructor, and her husband Habibollah (Sorry, I'm sure I spelled their names wrong). Again, there's so much more to tell, but we have precious little time. We will try to update soon.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

For the past three days we have been the guests of Sonja's Uzbek dance friend, Gulya. She picked us up from the airport and set us up with a nice hotel room close to her home (which is being worked on). In Uzbekistan, being a host is taken very seriously, and all of our time has been spent as guests.
Gulya drove us all over Tashkent, taking us to resturants and museums (she even got her friend to open the small dance museum that's under repair, which resides in the former home of her teacher, Tamara Khanoum). Yesterday we were taken out of Tashkent to a small "get away from the city" dwelling of her friend where we ate pilav and fresh fruit (best apricots ever, straight off the tree), swam in a small cold pool, and relaxed with some of Gulya's old frieds.
With all of this wonderful catering and hosting going on, we have had no spare time for anything. So, unfortunately, we have to save the tales of our adventures for another time (like the time Andy left his pocket knife in his bag and when trying to enter the Baku metro was taken into a small room and screamed at by police in Russian: "SCHTO ETA?!! SCHTO ETA?!!"). Our apologies . . . we have so much to tell.
Today we are taking a train to Bukhara, Uzbekistan. From there we will go to Dushanbe, Tajikistan and prepare for our trip to Khorog and wait for the arrival of Robyn and Sharlyn who get to Dushanbe on the 9th. We will try and give a more detailed update when we find our next internet cafe.