UZBEQUISTÁN, A GAS-SMELLING COUNTRY, GAS AND MEAT BROCHETTES. THEY HAVE THE NICEST ALMONDS I´VE NEVER TRIED: THEY´RE SMALL AND YOU CAN BREAK THEM WITH YOUR HAND AS EASILY AS A PEANUT.
WOMEN MUST GET MARRIED AND HAVE CHILDREN (IT SEEMS 4 IS THE PERFECT FORMULA: TWO BOYS AND TWO GIRLS. THAT´S EVERYONE´S WISH WHEN ASKED)
THE BIGGEST NOTE IN THIS COUNTRY IS 30 CENTS, IMAGINE THE SIZE OF THE PURSES HERE!! TO CARRY THE MONEY THEY USE SMALL BAGS AND IT´S NOT UNSUAL TO GET YOUR HAND IN YOUR BAG AND COME OUT WITH SUCH A WAD YOU STRUGGLE TO HOLD IT WITH YOUR HAND.
ONE COUNTRY OF PLAIN AND WORKING PEOPLE WHO, AT 7 AM, WARM UP THEIR FINGERS TO GET READY TO COLLECT THAT COTTON THAT EXTENDS ON INFINITE PLANTATIONS TO EVERY CORNER OF THE COUNTRY. EVERLASTING FIELDS DOTTED WITH SNOWFLAKES.
IT´S BEEN WONDERFUL TO PEDAL AGAIN ON RICH LANDS, TO SEE THE WATER AND THE TREES FRUITING ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD. PLENITUDE.
WE CARRIED ON OUR CUSTOM OF TAKING ALTERNATIVE ROADS, OTHERS THAN THE OTHER CYCLISTS´NORMALLY TAKE. THIS “SILK ROAD” IS VERY POPULAR AND IT SEEMS HOLIDAYS ON WHEELS ARE INTO FASHION.
IT´S NOT A MATTER OF NOT WANTING TO FIND OTHER PEOPLE, BUT WE PREFER TO PASS THROUGH PLACES WHERE TOURISTS DON´T GET. THERE, PEOPLE IS PURER AND THEY´RE MOVED BY CURIOSITY, NOT PROFIT.
SHOUTING PEOPLE WHO ASK FOR A RETURN GREETING JUST TO KNOW YOU SAW THEM, THAT YOU RAISED YOUR HAND AND THEY RAISED THEIRS, FACES OF CHILDREN WHO CAN´T BELIEVE WHAT THEY SEE. PEOPLE WHO ALWAYS GIVE; HERE THAT´S SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS EVERYDAY, ALMOST ON EVERY ENCOUNTER: THEY ALWAYS GIVE YOU SOMETHING.
GIVING AS A CUSTOM. EVERYDAY, ALL THE TIME WE´VE BEEN IN THIS COUNTRY, WE´VE CARRIED A GIVEN BREAD (WITHOUT ASKING FOR IT) IN OUR SADDLEBAGS.
ON THE OTHER HAND, THE MAYORITY OF THESE SECONDARY ROADS ARE PATCH MADE; THEY THROW SHOVELFULS OF TAR INTO THE HOLES, THEN THEY LEAVE AND WAIT FOR THE TRUCKS AND CARS TO DO THE DIRTY JOB: SMOOTHING AND CRUSHING.
MOST CARS WORK ON METHANE GAS, AND WHEN IT´S TIME TO FILL UP THE TANK EVERYONE NEEDS TO GET OFF THE CAR SO THEY ALL STEP ASIDE. TO FILL IT UP TAKES TIME ( MUCH MORE THAN IT TAKES WITH PETROL) SO, PETROL STATIONS ARE USUALLY PACKED WITH VEHICLES LINING UP, AND PEOPLE WAITING, LOOKING, CHATTING. REFUELLING BECOMES A SOCIAL ACT, AN INTERESTING MEETING MOMENT.
AN IMAGE I´M KEEPING IN MY HEAD IS THIS SEAT 124 WITH TWO WOMEN ON THE BACK SEATS, WEARING IN THE HEAD THEIR TYPICAL COLOURFUL SCARVES, AND TWO MEN AT THE FRONT, WEARING THIS TINY HAT, MUSLIM STYLE, BLACK AND WITH FINE WHITE EMBROIDERY.
TO MOVE AROUND THE WORLD MAKES A PART OF YOU OPEN; TO OBSERVE, TO PASS, TO PASS…PEOPLE AND TREES, MOUNTAINS AND MOMENTS. SOMETHING GETS ACTIVATED THROUGH THIS CLOSE CONTACT WITH THE CHANGING WORLD; IT´S IN THAT MOVEMENT WHERE THE HAPPINESS OF LIVING LIES. RECEIVING NEW THINGS CONSTANTLY KEEPS THE SOUL AND THE MIND FRESH, AWAKE, NOT ALLOWING US TO GET DROWSY IN THE “KNOWN”; WITHOUT ROUTINE HARDENING THE JOINTS OF OUR DAYS..
IN TASKENT, THE CAPITAL, WE WERE SHELTERED IN ONE OF THE CITY´S SUBURBS BY A BRAVE SINGLE WOMAN WHO WELCOME US LIKE A MEMBER OF HER FAMILY DURING THE 10 DAYS WE HAD TO STAY IN THE CITY DUE TO VISA TROUBLES. THERE WE REALIZED THE GENERAL MISTRUST TOWARD THE FOREIGNER.
SOMEBODY MADE THEM BELIEVE FOREIGNERS BRING PROBLEMS, THEY´RE DANGEROUS AND THAT IS GOOD THEREFORE TO HAVE POLICE AND CONTROL, GROUPS OF POLICEMEN ON EVERY CORNER, BAG CHECKINGS AT THE METRO ENTRY, IDENTIFICATION CONTROLS…CONTINOUS SURVEILLANCE AND RESTRAIN ARE ACCEPTED BY ALL THANKS TO THE EXCUSE OF DANGER. FEAR AND SUSPICION BLUR THE REASON.
THE CHINESE VISA COST US VERY EARLY STARTS, LONG WALKS AND WAITS AND A MILLION DOCUMENTS, SOME OF THEM AS CURIOUS AS THE “HOUSEWIFE CERTIFICATE” (AITOR HAD TO WRITE AND SIGN A DOCUMENT CERTIFYING I´M HIS WIFE AND WORK AT HOME).
EVENTUALLY AND AFTER BEING ACCEPTED AND GET THE VISA WE DISCOVERED IT CAME WITH A SURPRISE, A RESTRICTION: THE ENTRY MUST BE IN THE NEXT 15 DAYS!!! IT LEFT US OUT FOR WORDS AND DUMB-FACED, SINCE DOING THE “PAMIR HIGHWAY” THIS WAS TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE, AND TRAVELLING THAT ROAD WAS THE REASON WE LEFT SPAIN IN WINTER AND TOWARDS THE EAST, IT´S ALMOST THE REASON OF BEING HERE AND WE WEREN´T GOING TO GIVE UP THAT EASILY. SO WE CAN SAY ALL THE EFFORT, TROUBLE AND MONEY…FOR NOTHING.
THE INDIAN VISA? SAME THING, ON GETTING IT WE REALIZED THEY GIVE IT FOR ONLY 2 months and the worst part ´s it starts from now, so we can´t make it either.
to sum up: nearly 200 euros in the bin, wasted. we´re living a very very basic life in order to make the most out of our money, seeing every cent as a genuine fortune and all of a sudden, they fool us the money one of us could live a whole month.
problematical visas and headache first to get all they ask for and then to think what to do with what they give us. finally the only good visa is tajikistan, where we´re heading right now and later, we´ll see.
with all these problems i´ve felt myself like paper boat carried by the tide in the middle of the sea, not being able to decide and manage my own life, just accepting what it´s given to me, nothing more.
we´re like two wolves (aitor said while we walked back from the embassy) who are walking around the world, coming forward, observing. they climb a mountain and find a fence, they then look for the way to dodge it, they learn to jump. but the truth is there´re more and more fences everyday, more forbidden paths, some fences are now electrified…and the wolves have no chance there. finally we are sourounded, locked in a cage.
that´s how we´re going to end up those travellers whose journey has no return ticket or all-inclusive packages. it seems like we´ve become a breed of weird people, different and therefore dangerous, but…for who? and…why?