And Back to Uzbekistan Again

THE BEGINNING AND THE END OF A VERY VERY LONG DAY

We were up at four and in the car by 4:45 for our drive back to Tashkent.   The temperature was minus twenty and after our host family leader had picked up another family leader we were on a very dark and not so fancy road.  I am usually pretty calm in a vehicle, but with the cold weather and what I assumed would be ice on the road I thought it would be a slow and steady journey down the hills – but I was wrong.  With winter tyres and a good sense of the road he was slow when it was necessary and not very slow when it was otherwise.  We passed a few buses near the border so that meant a little more determination on the accelerator to get to the check points before the hoards of bus people.  We came up on the check points quicker than I had remembered.  To our surprise we passed through really quickly and easily.  Only a few other people like us.  As I may have said before, during the day it can take between three and four hours.  And no one is allowed to drive a vehicle across the border, so its a matter of parking and getting a bus or a taxi.  The lady in the border security booth took forever to process what I can only assume was a simple passport.  It was enough to make me wonder but it was without avail.
We were met by our friendly drive from Tashkent.  As we loaded into the four wheel drive I was taking a slightly wider route to the front near-side door and didn’t see the square drain where my foot was pointing.  I went down with a bit of a thud and bumped my head on the concrete.  Everyone was very concerned, but it didn’t turn out to warrant much of a mention.  I thought I would tell the story that the gash on my head was from a terrorist attack at the border – but the only terrorist was my foolishness and the gutter was completely innocent.  When we got back to the older family leader’s house his wonderful, loud, kind and motherly wife thought I needed to rest for a few days just to make sure everything was okay.  Daesop amazingly had some antiseptic stuff so there wasn’t any need for the fuss.
We attended a great meeting of different family leaders from near and far.  It was a bit like the one we have in Canberra each September.  It was warm, relational, caring and strong. Many different leaders had things to say.  Some had come all the way from Vladivostok.  Can you believe that.  The meeting went on till about 5:30 and then we checked out, went to the older leader’s home to get our bags etc.  It happened to be his birthday so we took himself and his wife and a few others to a restaurant for dinner and sang happy birthday to him in English.  No one quite new how to take it – but the older leader was very happy and so were we.  They have been so profoundly hospitable.  Unbelievably so.
We finally arrived at the airport.  The Asiana Airlines flight was delayed – and then was further delayed.  It was meant to leave at 11:10 but didn’t end up leaving until 12:30.  That meant we had been on the go for more than twenty hours without a break or a rest.  We were like impatient zombies – if there can be such a thing.
 M1
This is Umida, who did a wonderful job translating Russian into English for most of the day.
M2
Caring for one of the family brothers
M3
A bunch of brothers all from the one family – even though they live a long way from one another
M4
One of the family rituals is when brothers wash each others’ feet before having the bread and drinking from one cup