To talk about Uzbekistan is difficult. How to find the first words, the first images to even open the door of Central Asia. Mysterious, offset, frightening and fascinating at the same time. Adventure in those lands is first and foremost a story of poetry and love. Love for a challenging land, which does not abandon himself but concedes to be open to whoever can open his eyes.
It is the poetry of a land dominated throughout History by several civilizations – Persians, Greeks, Arabs, Mongols, Russians …, occupied by various ethnic groups, Uzbeks, Russians, Tajiks, Kazakhs, Tatars, Karakalpaks, Korean, Kyrgyz, Turks. A land which was crossed by the famous Silk Road.
Nowadays, Uzbekistan remains a young republic with new borders, building a national identity on a story slightly distorted, denying its ethnic divisions, facing a difficult political and economic progress.
In Uzbekistan, I will remember the smiles, outstretched hands and the sun. A few pages an individual experience.
I’m the kind of person who buys a guidebook for the sole purpose of showing off my distant destinations. Somehow, it seems like a moment of glory in the bookshop, when in the eyes of others – intrigued, appreciative even, I feel oh so adventurous. That moment, alas, doesn’t last, and I have to pay by credit card. With a student discount. Thank you.
A journey always begins before departure. Groping around the organization, seeking information about the country, the formalities, all these little occupations that take away the mundane and gray of a daily boring life.
And the famous guidebook, lying on the table, is the first step of the trip. Guidebook that I only skim through, taking notes on its glossy pages, sacrilege for some, necessity for others, tearing its pages for my convenience.
If the adventurer returns deeply changed, even transformed from within by his journey, the guidebook, however, shows the terrible wounds of the sacrificed companion. My guidebook « Petit Futé » on Uzbekistan will not recover from my stay in the largest country of Central Asia.
Uzbekistan is this distant land, surrounded by « stans » countries, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan …
Disregarded by the news, this ex – Soviet republic becoming independent with the fall of the Soviet Union, is at a cross path, torned between a return to traditions banned by the communists in 1920, a dictatorship with nothing to envy to the Soviet regime, the emergence of globalization and the access to new technologies – and even before that, access to clean water, electricity and food.
It’s an important part of the Silk Road, where caravans, carrying riches, were crossing miles from East to West, making the fortunes of cities that were on their paths.
This is the land of Samarkand, the worldwide known monuments of Bukhara, the ancient city of Khiva, a real open air museum – under the protection of UNESCO – the citadels of the desert, the dried sea of Aral.
It is a country where traditions are festives, full of dances and colours, as evidenced by the traditional costumes, pashminas, and even modern fashion that strikes with flashy colors, silky, mixed with joy and thousand sequins.
In Uzbekistan, the bazaar is still common place where one goes shopping, where one does groceries between two cups of tea, snacking on sunflower seeds.
Uzbeks have their hands on the heart and a warm smile. Tough in business, they are proven to be generous but not crazy. Sexism is still a problem, hanging between a harmless gallantry and sad condition of arranged weddings at a very young age. It is a place where living conditions are still largely precarious, as there is so much to do …