Did We Anger the Gods?

Yesterday was a tough one. First off, we hadn’t slept very well the night before. We shad stayed in a guest house that seemed okay at first look but the longer we were there the worse it got. The bed was rock hard, the air conditioner didn’t work, the water pressure was terrible, I could go on but those are the major issues. Oh wait! There were also dogs barking outside our window all night long.  

So, we’re experienced travelers and one night in a crappy place isn’t the worst thing ever. I had to tell you all that to set up our day.  

While there we met a guy traveling guy that was going in the same direction as us and asked if he could bum a ride in the morning so he didn’t have to wait for the bus. We said okay.  

It was a 3-hour ride to our first stop of the morning: Mizdakhan fortress and necropolis. There are two major sites to see here. There’s an ancient fortress which we drove right up on, please don’t reach through the screen and kill me if you’re an archeologist reading this… I know what we did is wrong. And second was the Tomb of the First Man. Don’t worry, the gods punished me because I had my first asthma attack in four years!!! Four years! I take a good maintenance medication that keeps my asthma under control daily and I never have any issues. Then, suddenly, yesterday, while walking around on this ancient fortress, bam! I felt my bronchial tubes closing in on me. Luckily, even though I haven’t had an asthma attack in four years, I keep an inhaler with me at all times. But it was in the car and I had to get there. That was a stressful few minutes for me. Of course I’m here typing this which means I made it! I would have liked to have explored the fortress some more, but I wasn’t feeling up to it anymore so we moved on. Off to the necropolis!

In the local Zoroastrian tradition, they said the First Man was buried here and then when the Muslims moved in they just adapted the myth to say Adam, yes, *that* Adam was buried here. So I’ve seen the actual burial site of Adam!! There are several other myths about this necropolis. One of the mausoleums is supposed to be the World Clock. The story goes seven bricks fall off the building each year and when the last brick falls, the world will end. People take seven of the fallen bricks and build a small wall, make a wish, and that wish is supopsed to come true, but only if the bricks come from the World Clock. we couldn’t figure out which building the World Clock was. The thing is, I don’t think anyone else knows either because we found these little brick walls seven bricks high all over the top of the hill. Anywhere we found a brick mausoleum, we found little brick walls seven bricks high. 

There was a nice old man working there as a guide to show us the Tomb of the First Man/Adam. He didn’t speak any English but he sure tried to communicate with us. We think he told us that the the Saudies sent recordings of Muslim prayers into space. I know that sounds strange but I’m pretty sure that’s what he was saying. 

Then, as we were walking away, we had our second medical crisis of the day! Our daughter had a seizure! Crazy! I had my first asthma attack in four years and she has a seizure within an hour of each other???? Now, her seizure isn’t really that surprising. It’s about time. We don’t know why but she has one every six months. Almost exactly every six months she’ll have one, they started four years ago. Oh! Another four! My husband and I have been joking maybe this was her last because she had her very first seizure when we were at a museum/holy place and yesterday we were at a holy place so please, oh please, let it be her last. That time we were terrified, on holiday in a rural village in Benin on the west coast of Africa and got a trip to Paris out of it. This time we handled it like pros. We just let her lie there on the ground for a few minutes then helped her into the car when she was ready. 

Our traveling companiion was not so chill. I understand. He had never seen anyone have a seizure before and he probably thought we were terrible parents because we weren’t freaking out. I mean… my heart was racing. She’s my baby girl. It’s terrifying to see her lying there all pale with blue lips… she looks dead… it scares the fuck outta me… but I know what’s happening and I know it’s best to stay calm or to stay as calm as I can. In the car he kept insisting it was the heat and it was pissing me off. Brandon and I both kept telling him no, she has epilepsy, it was a seizure, she has one every six months and it’s time. Not only had he never seen anyone have a seizure, he had never even heard of epilepsy, so we’ve taught him. a new thing, and maybe you too. 

After getting her in the car we drove straight to our hotel. I said hotel but really we stayed in another guest house. This one was much better than the last. We left her sleeping and Brandon and I went to the Nukus Museum of Art also known as the Savitsky Museum. We’ve been excited about it because it’s supposed to have the largest collection of Soviet banned art in the world. That’s art that the Soviet Union banned. Getting in was a hassle. They didn’t speak English and I understood they were telling me I could leave my bag at the bag check but I was saying no thanks, it’s okay, I’ll carry it, but they wouldn’t let us upstairs, eventually someone that spoke a little English came out and explained it wasn’t I *could* leave my bag it was I *must* leave my bag. Ah ha! That’s a big difference. No problem. I checked my bag and we went upstairs to see the art. 

It was okay. Not much really caught my eye. There were a couple pieces I liked a lot like these. I have some artist friends that are probably reading this. Don’t be mad at me.

There were these little signs everywhere telling me I could get more information but I didn’t know how. All the other museums all across Uzbekistan had offered us English speaking tour guides and had also have this app called NazzAr that’s really cool. You scan a QR code and it tells you a bit about what you’re looking at, but there was no code here. The staff was following us around like they thought we were criminals. It was obnoxious. Every step we took someone took a step and followed us. It made me feel really unwelcome. Anyway, I asked one of them in Russian “Do you speak English?” She replied “No.” I pointed to the placard and she said “Audio-guide”. Audio-guide?????? What audio-guide??? No one had offered us an audio-guide. 

It wasn’t worth it to me to go downstairs and ask. I was done with them. It was hot in museum. They had been very unwelcoming at the front door. They were following us around as if they thought we were criminals. We’re art fans, or I’m an art fan, I think Brandon was just there to placate me, and history teachers from America that drove all the way to Nukus to see their museum and they treated us like that? I will never recommend anyone I know waste their time going there. We never even found out which specific pieces of art were the banned ones. What a bust! I only suggest going there if you speak Russian or if you know exactly what you’re looking for. All I had to go on was what I’ve read on Wikipedia and a couple other websites but… ya know… you’d think the museum staff would be happy to help me…you’d think….

The Nukus Musuem of Art is the only museum we encountered in all our research on Uzbekistan that calls itself a world class museum. We’ve traveled all over Uzbekistan, we’ve gone in two-bit run down museums, we’ve gone in awful museums, we’ve gone in wonderful museums, we’ve gone in museums of all types, but almost every one of of them in this country before has made us feel welcomed, and wanted, and they’ve gone above and beyond to at least try to communicate with us even if they couldn’t. This one was a total disappointment.  

When we got back to the guest house something exciting happened. I receieved a message request on Instagram from someone that’s traveling through Uzbekistan right now and has been following me on Google Maps and had a question about something. jYou can’t contact people on Google Maps. That was neat. I like to know I’m helping. I spend an awful lot of time writing those reviews. 

It was a long, long day, I fell asleep at 6PM and didn’t wake up until the next morning!