The day began with the usual struggle of getting out of town during rush hour. Driving here is a test of strongest wills – everyone wants to be first and fastest – horns blowing and cell phones out – but here is a twist, they are not talking on the phone but rather using the camera to get a picture of our cars. This requires them to maneuver to within one foot of us, hang out the window for a good shot, blowing the horn because this is such fun and shifting as steering as necessary. This goes on in the city and out on the rural highways but outside the city we add the ritual flashing of the headlights to the program. There is clearly never a dull moment.
Then we have the extremes in transportation – the donkey cart and the modern tractor – both move at about the same speed and can just appear in the middle of the road – these two were the exception not the rule.
Interesting that in a country where the trucks and busses just spew exhaust fumes in clouds, the trains run of electricity – go figure …
We pass hundreds of these donkey carts each day but they are so cute I just had to include on more shot. Some pull carts and others just have one or two kids riding bareback – very special.
As we depart Tashkent and move southwest, the land flattens but remains greener than Kazakhstan partially because they have active irrigation here in Uzbekistan. The livestock is also different here where we see horses and cows (well tended or tethered) and very few sheep and goats. Cotton is the primary crop in this area and we see small groups of people out picking the fields.
Just happened to see this as we drove through a small village – no idea what it was but it was certainly attractive compared to its surrounding small huts,
We arrived at what was supposed to be a Time Control which we discovered had been converted to a Passage Control (no timing) amidst total chaos – people and kids everywhere. We had to gently nudge the car through the crowd as they would not move otherwise. As you can easily tell, they were all very excited and having a great time – I’m pretty sure they have never seen anything like this before.
What a shot out the window …
Think they are having fun …
Back on the road again, the country side starts to get hilly …
This is the Iron Gate which is a gap in the mountains where Tamburlaine was said to have kepy his troops to protect Samarkand from invaders – a pretty well chosen spot from a military standpoint …
Beautiful hills …
Everywhere we go there are crowds waiting and waving – my arm is getting tired but this is great fun. They also shout hello as we go by and all are laughing – life in the countryside must be pretty boring.
And the ever present fruit and vegetable stand (and piles) – all are very neatly presented.
If you are in need of sticks, this man can provide them by the bundle.
Competition must be fierce – look how nicely the fruit is presented and the stands are right next to each other.
Those are apples the girls are selling – looks like they are having more fun waving to the cars than selling apples.
People here just seem to move themselves – this is an entire bedroom loaded on top of the car (which is a wreck). How it can go up hill or not tip over must be some type of local secret.
And what to my wondering eyes did appear … Yes, that is Tim Scott inside his space suit actually riding his motorcycle. This is the first time I’ve actually seen him moving since the first day at the Great Wall – brave and determined man – hope he is able to keep riding.
Here is Arthur Freeman and Roger James from the States in Arthur’s 1936 Ford Deluxe Coupe which Roger built for this event. I had the good fortune to meet these guys on the flight to Bejing. Looks like they are doing well and having a good time.
The economy here in Uzbekistan seems much stronger that Kazakhstan – no abandoned factories and housing. This is a large grain elevator which is operating and in good repair – nice to see.
The closer you get to a major city (there are only a few) the better things appear – here we have flowers all along the median as we approach Samarkand.
Tomorrow is another day off – the original schedule had to be altered due to fighting in Osh.
We are just over half way mileage wise with only 15 days driving – the roads should continue to improve so we’ll make better time.
The local time here is GMT + 5 hours which puts us 9 hours ahead of Eastern time in the States.
Have to get ready for tomorrow’s episode …