100 Days – Uzbekistan

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The 12th Century Kalon Minaret towers over the historic center of Bukhara.

So much to say.  So little time.  So much that can’t be said.  One thing is for sure, the past three years have been quite a ride.  Brutalist architecture, ancient silk road fortresses, the spectacular remnants of Timur’s empire – Uzbekistan has it all, and at the same time, doesn’t.  We’ve seen big changes just in the short time we’ve lived here.  We outlasted some, but others remain for the long-haul.  Uzbekistan continues to surprise even when you think you’ve seen it all.  Taxi drivers with whom conversation drifts between how to get a green-card and better times under communism, or spectacular mosaics on the side of Soviet apartment blocks, this is a land of sharp contrast.  Stepping off the plane into the 45°C heat that first time literally takes your breath away, months before first witnessing the ruins of Tamerlane’s palace in Shakhrisabz, ancient Kish, the historic of center of which was recently bulldozed and replaced by a carefully planned park.  Breathtaking experiences here are the norm, especially when we clamber off the beaten path.  In some cases, the path has been well worn for thousands of years.  Cities of stone, snow-capped mountains that rise out of dust, and mystical sacred fish who’s origins remain a mystery beneath the shadow of a fortress built by Alexander the Great.  In the village a local family might want to get their picture taken with you, while in the city the staff at a posh restaurant won’t want to give you the time of day.  Almost hit by a car one minute, your Uzbek neighbors bring you plov the next.  It really has been quite the experience, every single day.

Today in Uzbekistan the ancient holiday of Navruz is being observed.  Of Zoroastrian origin, also celebrated as Persian new year, Navruz is a celebration of life, rebirth, and the arrival of spring.  When planning the travel dates of our next move, it really was a complete coincidence that Navruz also marked the beginning of our last 100 days in this country.  In exactly 100 days time, we will be boarding a plane for a one way trip to Germany.  After three years in Uzbekistan, we will be celebrating the start of yet another adventure.  During the next 99 days, we’ll be doing our best to share some of our Uzbek adventures with you, our dear readers.  Still somewhat of a mystery to the rest of the world, Uzbekistan makes sure visitors won’t soon forget.  Neither will we.

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