Friday, May 17, 2013

Greetings from Tashkent, Part Two

Sam always says to shut down and start again to fix technical problems and it appears to have worked here!

Ok. So I knit and ate and drank and slept my way to Munich on the fabulous Lufthansa, and arrived fresh as the proverbial daisy and almost immediately met up with my little travel group of writers plus Kelly who is the best travel coordinator maybe ever. We boarded our next flight to Istanbul, and I mostly knit  and slept my way there. I have to give a huge shout out to my writer pals Debra Spark and Lily King for turning me on to The whole time I knit I listened to the first book in the Denise Mina Alex Morrow series, which are read by a woman with the greatest Scottish accent. This knitting and listening to books is amazing!!!!

Even though I had a dream of going into Istanbul, exhaustion and practicality kept us right at the airport in a nice hotel where we got to shower and sleep and I watched two episodes of HOUSE before I ventured into the fabulous airport and ate free samples of Turkish delight plus a yogurty meaty wrap. Also spritzed some Chanel #5 on at a duty free shop before meeting back up with my lovely little group and boarding the flight to Tashkent.

At this point I didn't know what day it was, or what time zone I was in (a problem I still have right now!) and I didn't care because I could just knit and sleep and eat my way to Uzbekistan (new favorite airline: Turkish Airlines, who fed me even on a flight that departed after midnight and the food was really yummy, including a little bag of hazelnuts that I took with me and ate for dinner with a giant Uzbek beer last night)

Arrived here in Tashkent at 6AM on Friday (I think) and had to wait at the Visa window for the Visa guy to arrive at work. Then we got swept up by our fabulous guides and hosts, brought to our swell hotel where we immediately took advantage of the free breakfast (I just had coffee and a croissant as I was so full from the airplane breakfast) and our nice beds. But sleep was brief as we got picked up a few hours later for...lunch!

My favorite food here so far has been the bread. there are all kinds and they are beautiful, shaped like hats and printed with designs and all kind of salty in a good way. I'm not as sanguine about the salads, which are eaten in vast quantities and are mayonnaisey and filled with uncooked vegetables (a big travel no no). So I ate some kebobs and lots of aforementioned bread.

Then we went to a shiny office building and met with the Writers Union here and had tea and more bread, also pistachios and almonds and some other yummy nut I'd never had before. it was all very ceremonial and ended with all of us getting traditional Uzbek robes and hats and more flowers than Miss America (check out FB for pictures!).

Of course by this time jet lag was so bad that I was nodding off from time to time. And we still had to meet with about sixty high school students, which has been my favorite thing so far--they were so smart and asked such terrific questions. From there we met with the ambassador, which was very cool and he gave us little pins of the US and Uzbekistan flags.

And then it was on to a tiny museum that honors the poet who was married to Isadora Duncan (and this guy died at thirty but had four wives!) where we met Uzbek poets and shared readings with them. A lovely evening.

But all of us so tired that we practically crawled through the hotel lobby and onto the elevators and into our beds. I got a big Uzbek beer from room service and ate it with those airplane hazelnuts before sleeping blissfully for seven hours.

Now I feel refreshed. Will find out what day it is and meet my group in about an hour for our next adventure. I'm in my bed sipping French press coffee (I am always so glad that I pack my portable French press and some good coffee!) until then.

More anon!