April 18th, 2013
It was so nice to eat a full breakfast in the dining room of my hotel. Though tomatoes, cucumbers, an assortment of cheeses and processed meats (none of which were bacon or breakfast sausage), a boiled egg, and some cereal are not what I normally eat for breakfast, I found it satisfying. So much so that I needed a nap. In the end, I only left the hotel an hour earlier than the day before. That meant that I had time to try to check Facebook and email before going to the Embassy of Uzbekistan to apply for my visa. The guide book said there was a sign in, so I got there over 30 minutes early to claim my place in line. I sat down and saw no evidence of list or anyone signing one. It wasn’t until I noticed that one of the three nuns sitting next to me had a book in English did I get some answers. The Sardinian nun told me that there isn’t a list anymore, so we will have to scrum once the gate opened for applicants. She, along with the other two are part of a mission (Mother Theresa’s order), live in Tashkent and have to leave Uzbekistan every 6 months to renew. So, I trusted her information, naturally, and we waited together. The gate normally opens by 2:30, but today, it didn’t until about 3:30. Having spent 2 hours outside while a damp 50 degree wind blew through me, I was hungry and edgy. Finding out that I would have to wait a week to get it back made me less so, especially since everyone else would get theirs before closing. I asked the kind employee if that was the earliest I could get it back. He paused. “Come back Tuesday.” I’ll take it.
At that point, my adventure could really begin in earnest since I could allow the visa to process and get out of Almaty for a change of scenery. Since it was about 4PM, I decided to have an early dinner of plov (think very greasy lamb fried rice with tons of MSG) and doner kebab (think an Asian version of a gyro or shwarma). I then went to the market for some provisions for the long train ride I would take the next day and finshed with more time wasted in an internet cafe trying to access my blog on WordPress.com. Despite my best attempts to wear myself out, I still didn’t sleep until midnight. This night, however, the rain that had moved in was soothing and I slept well.