Am I in Santa Fe? Nope, it’s Bukhara.

We arrived in Bukhara, Uzbekistan last night and I swear it looks just like Santa Fe, New Mexico. I must have said it 50 times to Brandon. The first thing we had to do was find our hotel. We booked at Malika Bukhara right in the old city center. If you read my blog regularly you know I don’t often post links, or even names of the hotels we stay in. I’m not making any money off this. They didn’t ask me to advertise for them or anything. I really like the place, the location is convenient, and it’s affordable. I know sometimes it seems like we travel in luxury but we really do travel on a budget and we usually look for one of the cheapest places in town. This place is the cheapest hotel in the center of town on Expedia and we were surprised by how nice it is.

You may have noticed by now that we meet people everywhere we go. When we were in Samarkand we met a nice Russian couple that was on their way to Bukhara. I suggested we meet for dinner here one evening while we were both in town. They were leaving today so we had to meet last night. We didn’t arrive from our adventures in Kitab until after 8PM. It’s nearly a five hour drive from Kitab to here.

So, two days ago we drank hard all afternoon, yesterday we ate a surprise meal by a river for several hours, then drove five hours straight to Bukhara, found our hotel, literally did nothing but drop our bags in the room, then turn around, walk out the door, and walk 400 meters to the cafe the Russians were already at waiting for us. We arrived about 9PM.

We didn’t know anything about them. We hadn’t even gotten their names in Samarkand! I had only gotten a WhatsApp number. We exchanged pleasantries and now we know he is a project manager for Huawei and she is a model! We had a great time chatting with them.

Over the course of this trip we’ve learned the Russian propaganda machine is very big on pushing that everything that’s wrong with America is the fact that black people are lazy. We’ve heard it over and over again when we meet people from the Russo-sphere who have had limited interaction with westerners. I can’t blame this guy for what he says and I don’t think he’s a racist. He’s only repeating what the news tells him. I mean…. come on… how much do you know about Russia and Russian politics? Probably not much more than whatever news source you watch tells you. Are you sure they’re telling you the truth?

He will be in Almaty for business the last week of August so we invited him to stay with us! And now his girlfriend is going to come too! How awesome is that??? We traveled to Bukhara to make new friends from Russia that we’ll mostly hang out with in Kazakhstan.

At 11PM I gave up. I told everyone I was too tired to stay awake any longer and I simply must go to sleep. Everyone agreed it was time for bed. We had a kid that looked like a walking zombie, I thought I was about to fall asleep at the restaurant table, and they had a flight to Moscow to catch in the morning.

When we woke up it was time to hit the touristing hard. But wait! It’s Eid. Eid al-Adha begins today, the streets are empty, and almost everything is closed. Just leave it to us Givens to want to be tourists on the #1 biggest holiday of the year for Muslims. Some of the shops were open and we bought some stuff, but none of the historical places like museums we wanted to see were open. In Islam there are two major holidays, both called Eid, that can be a little confusing for non-Muslims. Here’s the lowdown. Leave it to the atheist to explain religious holidays to you:

Eid al Fitr: (little Eid) Celebrates the end of Ramadan. The end of the month long fasting. It’s a big celebration.

Eid al-Adha: (big Eid) Celebrates the end of the Hajj, you know, the pilgrimage to Mecca all Muslims are supposed to do at least once in their lives, please tell me you know what Hajj is, and it’s also remembrance of Abraham’s (Ibrahim) obedience to God when he almost murdered his own kid. God was all like hey, Abraham, I want you to murder your kid, and Abraham was like okay, God I’ll totally murder my kid cos that’s an okay thing to do. And then at the last minute God was like j/k you can just kill this goat instead. Cos, you know, he’s a totally loving God. Anyway. It’s the holiday celebrating the fact that Abraham was so dedicated to his God that he was willing to murder his own kid because God told him to. All three of the Abrahamic religions think this is one of the coolest stories they have, but in Islam it’s HUGE.

Everybody’s ready to slaughter a goat for their evening meal. They’re tied up all over. I was thinking for dinner we might just walk down the street. People might invite us into their homes. That would be neat. Sure, I think actually believing religious superstition is dumb but religion itself is one of my favorite things to study. I’d love to get invited into a random stranger’s home on Eid for dinner in Bukhara. What a story that would be! It’s too bad we don’t have any fancy clothes with us. This is the day everyone busts out their finest wear.


We walked into a small shop that said museum, it wasn’t a museum, it was a shop, but I’m so happy we did because the artist has been to Santa Fe! He participated in the Santa Fe Folk Art Exhibition of 2011 and when he saw me looking at the certificate he told me Santa Fe looks just like Bukhara! I laughed out loud and looked over at my husband! I told the artist I used to live in Santa Fe and I’ve been telling my husband the two cities look alike ever since we arrived. We had a short conversation about how similar the two cities are. Now that I think about it I want to go back and buy something from him. I feel bad for not getting anything before. I’ll do that later.

We were stopped on the street by a man that offered to bring us to his home for lunch. I knew it was some kind of a scam. I’ve been around the block, but what the hell, let’s go to the guy’s house for lunch. The thing is… everything here is so affordable that even when it is expensive it’s still not expensive. Does that make sense?

So we went to his house, he introduced us to his family, his wife really did prepare us a homemade meal, and out comes the sales pitch. His daughter makes handmade pillow covers, table cloths, table runners, rugs, and duvet covers. Oh my god! They were beautiful! Beautiful! Let me say that again: Beautiful! We bought one. That was going to be our one big ticket item here anyway. We have been looking for one really nice carpet to hang on the wall so why not buy it from this guy’s daughter? Bukhara will be our last chance because we won’t be in any more tourist trap cities after this. It’s only remote historical and natural places for us after this.

After lunch we came back to the hotel so I could write. I’ve been at it for about four hours now. Brandon and Trinidad are sleeping. Tomorrow we’ll try to see museums and things. Honestly, I was happy to just have a day to catch up on my writing. I feel better now.