If it’s too good to be true…

April 29, 2013

While it was a relief that Arnaud and I were leaving the house, we were also parting ways. We ate our breakfast of leftover plov, paid a bit more than bargained for the stay, and we were drvien again to the bus station. I have to say that I was slightly offended that the grandfather counted the money I gave him, but not Arnaud’s. I thought back and I am pretty sure I know why.

First of all, I was doing all of the bargaining for the rooms. Secondly, the grandfather first asked if I was Jewish. When I said no, he immediately asked if I was Armenian. Being half, I just said yes. I guess neither sits well with him, so I guess that’s why he and the rest of the family only talked to me out of politeness. Well, you can’t be everyone’s friend.

Before heading off in separate directions, Arnaud and I went to Margilon for the morning to go to a factory where silk is still made and dyed the old fashioned way. There were plenty of women weaving carpets, using looms to make scarves, and using machines to make lower quality stuff. It was worth the visit, especially since we were allowed to slip in to another tour group. Then it was lunch and goodbye.

I had to go back to Tashkent for my visa to Tajikistan, which meant going back to Kokand. There I found the most helpful cabbie ever. Even though he couldn’t fill his cab, he took me where I could help fill a friend’s. By the time we got there, the situation had changed and I wasn’t needed for that cab. That pissed off my cabbie, but he refused to leave me high and dry, so he networked until I could fit into a cab. The process took about 30 minutes and he got nothing for his trouble. Now that’s hospitality!

I figured that since I offered a rate above market, that’s why I got the coveted front seat. Actually, the reason was that the only other person in the cab was a soccer player stretching across the backseat. He was a nice guy that is currently playing for one of the clubs in Almaty, where he get paid better and gets paid what he’s owed. This is a good thing because he has a broken ankle and still on crutches. I figured that since he was taking 3 seats, he was paying more than I, but when he was dropped off, he seemed to pay the normal rate. I didn’t think much of it until it seemed that the taxi driver was taking a very circuitous route to my desired drop off. He was also making and receiving many phone calls. Then it was clear what was going on. He had cargo in his trunk that he was dropping off for a price. It appeared to just be clothes, but who know what else there could have been. So, with that done, I figured I was next. Nope. We waited about 10-15 minutes for someone to drop off things for him to haul for profit. THEN, he finally dropped me off. All of this driving around while he did his business meant that it was dark when I arrived. At least I had a reservation ready.

When I got to the guesthouse, I was asked for my passport, as is the custom. The guy in charge then asked for my registration, and I said that I didn’t have one because I stayed at someone’s house. This was a major issue because he called the manager for me to talk to. The manager explained to me that he couldn’t let me stay because he couldn’t prove where I was for the past two nights when he submits his registration to the police. I was livid and yelled at him. My argument boiled down to: the guidebook makes no mention that not having a registration will prevent you from being a guest somewhere else, if this is true, then I just have to leave the country because no one will register me now- how ridiculous, and it’s 8:30 now. Where do I go? Then, I gathered my thoughts enough to remember that the government did know where I was for the past two nights. I had to register my passport when I entered and left the Fergana Valley. “Oh. I forgot about this. It’s okay. You can stay tonight.” Something tells me that he’s under the government’s microscope for a previous violation and doesn’t want to get shut down. Whatever. The situation was resolved. I had a late dinner and went to bed.

Weaving silk using traditional methods in Margilon.

Weaving silk using traditional methods in Margilon.

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Silk may be famous in Fergana, but cotton is still king in Uzbekistan.

Silk may be famous in Fergana, but cotton is still king in Uzbekistan.

Can I buy a vowel, please? Waiting for my cabbie to fill up with natural gas.

Can I buy a vowel, please? Waiting for my cabbie to fill up with natural gas.

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