We woke up yesterday to a new guest in our hotel; a well educated Palestinian guy that was a pleasure to talk with. We talked all about education and I explained to him how I teach my world history class to fifteen year old students. He was surprised. He asked world history? How do you teach the history of the whole world? He said he wished I had been his teacher 🙂 I love hearing that from adults. We discussed biases in education and how important I feel it is to give my students a well rounded education with a small amount of knowledge on a large amount of topics from all around the globe. So they can have a very basic understanding of Leopold in the Congo, Bartolomeu Dias from Portugal, the Women’s March on Versailles, the World Wars, major revolutions and more. In the end I’m pretty sure we established I’m the best teacher ever.
Our car was still in the shop and he had some plans with the owner of the hotel and they invited us to join them. We’re always eager to make new friends and have new adventures so we said yes! The plan was to go to a small village about an hour from here, then walk to a valley where we could pick berries right on the Uzbekistan/Kyrgyzstan border with one foot in each country.
We all piled in a taxi and off we went. First, we went to a park to see a 1,000 year old tree. Then, we were off on our walk. After we had been walking, and talking, and getting to know each other for oh, I don’t know, maybe forty-five minutes the hotel owner’s phone rang. When he hung up he said we have to go back! Someone had found the other guy’s phone at the big tree. What???? How did that happen? He said no. My it must be a mistake. My phone is here in my bag. He checked his bag. It wasn’t there. He didn’t even know it was gone! He said he must have dropped it while trying to put it in his pocket after taking a picture back there. A complete stranger had picked it up off the ground, dialed the last called number that just happened to be the hotel owner, and so he got his phone back. Isn’t that some great luck! His last dialed number could have been anyone! He’s a Palestinian guy that lives in the UAE currently traveling in Uzbekistan, who knows whom he could have called last and it happened to have been the very person we were walking with at the time and spoke the local language!
So, we turned around and headed back to the big tree and talked the whole way back. Mostly about, you guessed it, world politics. When we arrived the lady was standing right there patiently waiting for us. I will never stop believing in the kindness of strangers and that people are good. We never made it to pick our berries on the border but I have a great story to tell anyway!
Sometime during all that the mechanic called and said our car was ready. We went straight from there to the mechanic’s shop where he showed us our beaten up old water pump. It was truly in bad shape. I’m surprised it hadn’t completely fallen apart. Now we have a new one and the car didn’t overheat on our drive home! It was only a short 20 minute drive, the real test will be climbing out of this valley the day ofter tomorrow, then the 8 hour drive to Samarkand, but let’s hope the car is fixed. The mechanic says we’re good to dive to the the moon now.
We didn’t get back to the hotel until 3:30 in the afternoon and our Palestinian friend had to rush off to catch his train for his next stop. I hope we run into him again before our visit is up. There were so many good conversations and so many good jokes during the day I wish I could tell you all of them like when my husband said: if you can’t have premarital sex if you don’t plan to ever get married. And the Palestinian said they may have a good laugh at you first but they will still kill you. We were talking about shariah law in the UAE at the the time.
The hotel owner told me he was going to his house to feed his dogs and offered to let me join him. He knows how much I love dogs. It turns out that not only is he a customer service extraordinaire, he’s also a dog rescuer! He has seven rescued street dogs and a littler of puppies he’s caring for! We went to the butcher and bought chicken for them and were on our way. I was excited to hear how they whined and cried for him as soon as we pulled up in the car and they could hear his voice outside the gate. The dogs were beautiful. Some were too timid to let me pet them but others couldn’t get enough love from me.
We came back to the hotel and my husband and daughter weren’t here. They had probably gone out to eat or something. I was hungry, hungry, hungry and I asked the hotel owner if he was hungry. He was. We went to eat together. We went back to Brown Sugar, the same place my family and I ate together the first day we were in this town. I like that place. I’m sure I’d be a regular if we lived here.
After dinner we went for a walk around town, and through the park, then back to the hotel. While we were walking in the park I met the most amazing dog. These two guys were walking a beautiful large dog and I asked if I could pet it. It instantly leaned up against me and I felt a bond between us. I know it sounds hokey but sometimes I really do feel it and I certainly did with this dog. Later, as we were walking back to the hotel we ran into the same guys again and I stopped to pet the dog again. This time they tried to sell us the dog, for practically nothing, and oh!!!!
How I wanted that dog. But how could I? That poor dog would die in my car on this trip. It’s 40°C/104° F here and we leave the car parked for hours at a time while we walk around being tourists during the day. I couldn’t do that to a dog. We got back to the hotel and I fell asleep plotting and scheming about ways of getting that dog back to Almaty with me.
All in all it was a great day! Now I’m sitting here at 6AM waiting for my family to wake up so we can begin the next day and see what adventure awaits us!