We went to bed last night unsure of our car situation. The mechanic had it with him and we didn’t hear from him before we fell asleep. I woke up a little after midnight and we still had heard nothing. At some point during the night there was a knock on our door and it was a hotel staffer with the mechanic. They said the car was ready and they wanted us to test drive it! We said no, we’re just going to have to trust you on this. We’re not getting out of bed in the middle of the night to make sure the car is driving.
We woke up in the morning, went down for breakfast, and the room was full of Uzbek businessmen. One offered to let us join him at his table. He spoke enough English for us to have a basic conversation. Apparently they were having a conference on grape growing at the hotel. It’s a burgeoning industry in Uzbekistan. The guy turned out to be the mayor of a city we’ll be driving right through one day next week and he invited us to visit him. So, of course we will!
There was a museum in Fergana we wanted to see before we left. The Museum of Local Lore. So far Uzbek museums have been impressive. The only thing I wish is that they had a little more English, but that’s just me being a snob. I know I’m in the Russo-sphere. They have far more English here than I ever saw in Xi’an.
These towns are all tiny, everything is less than 5 minutes away by car than everything else. After the museum it was time to drive to the next town. We drove the 18 minutes to the next town over. Within the first five minutes of the drive our check engine light came on and then as we pulled in the parking lot of the the first museum the engine overheated. What a start to our day! We decided to not let it ruin things for us.
We left the car in the parking lot and made our way to the history museum there. It wasn’t so impressive. In fact I’d say it was the least impressive museum we’ve seen so far on this trip. After the museum we went to the Yodgorlik Silk Factory. It was really cool. Even my teen daughter seemed interested sometimes and that’s a miracle. The grounds themselves were just as interesting to me to look at as the silk making process was to learn about.
I had the mechanic’s phone number and our silk factory tour guide spoke English so I asked her if she would call the mechanic for us. She was happy to help us. The mechanic said he’d be there in fifteen minutes. An hour and a half later he arrived.
While we were waiting our new friend, the owner of the hotel we didn’t get to stay at, the one with the cat, randomly called me just to check in and see how we were doing. I told him what was going on and he came to the rescue! He showed up to help us with back-up! He had two cousins with him! It was amazing! They stayed with us all day long.
In the end we went to a different mechanic, one his cousin knew, this mechanic has finally diagnosed the true problem with our car! Our water pump wasn’t working! And he’s replacing it as I type this! Everyone was extra kind to us at the shop and they said they wanted to be sure to make our car ready to get us to the Aral Sea and back to Almaty.
After that we we feeling exhausted, especially me since I naturally wake up at 5AM every day, but our friend’s cousin really wanted us to go to his home to meet his family and so we did! We felt is was a great honor to be invited. He has a daughter the same age as my daughter so it might have been a good time for them. In the end, I’m glad we went!
His family was really nice. his home was great to see. We had fresh corn they picked and shucked straight from the garden. We had tea, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi. We had fresh baked bread. They showed us family photo albums and they even gave us some Uzbek souvenirs.
Now we’re staying an extra night in Fergana because of the car but we got to stay in the place with the cat after all! I’m writing from the bed there now. And I’m so tired I’ve fallen asleep three times in the middle of making this post so I’m going to stop now.