The following entry was in fact written over a month ago, but due to lack of internet among other obstacles, I never quite got around to sending it, so here goes:
I am sitting in a small cafe somewhere between Bukhara and Samarkand, waiting for a kebab, and munching on some salad, while I wait for poor old G to be fixed next door. Exactly the same thing happened as about one month ago, in a little garage in Azerbaijan. I had been driving happily, and fast along the highway, pulled in to stop, in this case, for a cold bottle of water, and simply could not start again. Luckily there happened to be a small mechanics on the opposite side of the road....thank goodness that this had not happened in the desert, where I highly doubt I would have found a mechanic for good few hundred miles!
I am wearing a pair of highly uncomfortable, bright orange jelly shoes, with flowers on, brought for me by the cluster of curious bystanders at the water stall, because my already very worn flip flop, finally came to sticky end whilst trying to kick start Grettle.
A very large, loud, and slightly repulsive man, has just taken on a lounge and stare position from the opposite bench, so I am staring at this screen rather harder than usual.
God I am fed up of eyes on me just all the time. I Suppose I only have myself to blame, for a single girl, riding a pistachio Green Vespa with Frog, is apparently something no one this far from home, has ever seen before, and so naturally, every time I stop, a mere minute ticks by, before the entire community has gathered around to observe this strange, and rare sighting,
Maybe it's because I'm feeling worn out, wishing I had company, and longing to understand or speak the Russian language, that I am no longer finding the constant stare, the urgent tapping on my shoulder, and the questions continuously yelled into my ear in Russian, funny anymore; they have become exhausting. The concept of personal space is not something that the locals appear to have grasped, or be in any way familiar with, in this part of the world. I think the heat of the desert has taken its toll over the past few days, the temperatures have been reaching 60+ Celsius, which probably makes matters a little worse, but it's the type of behavior, that with good company, or any company for that matter, that speaks your language, can be a manageable, and even an amusing challenge, but turns utterly exhausting when faced with alone.
Which brings me to how much I am missing my recently wed husband, and the team of cyclists I met in Nukus. If I remember rightly, I left you in my last post, waiting for them to arrive at Jipek Jolie Guest house, whilst taking refuge in my little yurt.
Well, my yurt was soon invaded by an old lady, who simply would not stop complaining about absolutely everything. She was furious because her book had told her the journey from Khiva would take an hour less than it did in reality. The constant whining in an awful Australian drawl, turned insufferable after about 10 minutes, and so John and I succeeded in drowning it out, and lightening the mood, over a few too many shots of vodka, and some more light-hearted conversation. We soon decided to take refuge in his spacious air-con room, and settle in for a movie.
Having just set up however, we heard a knock at the door. We answered, to find the hotel manager poised outside, looking nervous and rather flustered. He told me I must return to my yurt immediately. A bit boggled by this unwarranted and out of the blue behavior, we attempted to explain we wanted to watch a film, but to no avail, the man was adamant. When we protested, he asked us for our marriage certificate. I hastily began to scrawl out a makeshift certificate. It read, 'John and Emma married today', with many balloons blowing randomly over the page. This clearly tipped the balance, and I was escorted back to my yurt, where I was kept rather too close an eye on, from that moment forward. And so, having got rather excited about the first film session of the trip, John and I agreed, we would wait until Khiva, the next stop, where we would pronounce our marital status rather firmly on arrival, and settle in for the movie marathon there.
Khiva was a lovely city, with an ancient inner town, surrounded by high, sandy colored castle walls, inside which, were many mosques, mausoleums, and one very tall pillar, with the Uzbek traditional blue tile work, embedded into the roof tops and doors of many of the monuments.
We had left the Swiss couple cooking up a meal on a patch of grass outside the hostel, and John, myself, and a British chap called Gary, who talked for Great Britain, and was growing a ridiculous ginger beard, as a result of a bet with his mates back home, set off to explore. It was really rather magical by dusk; the shadows of the magnificent mosques, playing in the light of the moon, and the distant echoes of Uzbek melodic chants, from the odd cafe, bouncing off the walls of the illuminated buildings.
By the time we had all packed up to leave Khiva, I was a little behind proposed schedule, having been travelling for the past week at cycle speed, and so sadly, I felt it time to move on, and bid farewell to fun bicycle bunch. I am now missing their company a great deal more than I thought I would, in particular, that of my husband, who I grew rather close to over our few happy days of marriage and movies.... he has those wonderful chimp-like ears that I have always been so fond of, a cheeky, witty and handsome look and manner, and life has suddenly became rather dull, and a little too quiet without him.
Anyway, vulgar man in lounge and stare position has now been joined by many fellow chums, following suit, and so I am hoping G will be good to go soon, and company will be found before too long...until then, adios....