May 4th – Saturday – Day 14
Today we leave for Khiva.
We will pass through the Kyzyl Kum or Red Sand Desert today. We are on the same route as the Camel Caravan of the past. Watch out for thieves and robbers looking for quick riches.
We will drive all day to reach Khiva.
The desert has had more than the its usual rain and it is green and full of life. The road is quite bumpy at times and we drive a hundred and fifty miles to go a hundred as we dodge the chuck holes and cracks in the it.
At times we drive on the sandy shoulder. It is smooth, slippery and perhaps a little dangerous. The views are vast. The mountains remind us where China lies far out in the south east.
There are houses being built here and there, around us. I always wonder about the people who choose to live out and away from civilization’s comforts. But it is beautiful here in its own way.
We made two stops for nature calls through the desert. Ladies to the right and men to the left. There are no trees to hide behind, so we use the rocks that nature has provided.
The bus gives some privacy to the women. There is an odd honk now and then from those driving by and enjoying our circumstances. They are not rude, they are just remembering that they have done the same and are keeping us on our toes.
We have arrived at a rest stop for lunch. A man is cooking shish kebabs as we get settled at our long lunch table. They smell wonderful. One of our troop has ordered some.
The hotel has sent a packed lunch with all of us. The amount of food was mind boggling. It consisted of chicken and rice in a container, a giant chicken sandwich in a bun, a cucumber, a tomato, a fruit box drink and a bottle water, an apple, a banana, a moon pie, a candy bar and trail mix. I’m not kidding. It was crazy.
Perhaps buses have broken down here before and the extra food is just in case. Just joking. There is a restaurant of sorts here and restrooms. We are in the shade. It is quite nice. We left a giant pile of wrapped, untouched food on the table as we got on the bus. Someone will surely use it later.
We crossed over the Amu Darya River. Darya means river I think, so this sentence might seem crazy to those that speak the local language. The river is wide, fast moving and muddy here.
The edge of the Khiva suburbs start at the river and the farmland seems to go on for ever.
The Poplar trees have reappeared in Khiva. They line the highways and the fields. They are beautiful as the wind blows the leaves back and forth and they shine and flicker as we drive by. The leaves are dark on top and light green on the underside.
The mountains have faded from view now. We passed camels grazing along the road. They looked shabby and unkempt as they try to shed their winter coats. That fur under their necks is highly sought after for sweaters and other clothing.
We stopped to take their photos. They didn’t seem to mind a bit. They were busy plotting their next adventure.
We have passed through the desert and lived to tell our tale. It took just nine hours by bus over interesting roads and past beautiful scenery. There are new roads being built out here, so by the time you get here the ride will be a little smoother.
Khiva has a wide main avenue and narrow shady alleyways.
The houses are made of mud brick and plaster over with cement. They are set back about fifty feet from the wide road. Most or all have gardens growing one sort of vegetable or another in that space.
There are buildings being built all over the place. There seems to be little rhyme or reason for their locations.
The homes have walls between them and they block the views of the yards behind the houses.
The houses look modern, but I know their secrets. The walls are not waterproof and in time the plaster will fall away from the mud bricks and need repair. I see it everywhere as we drive past them. I would be kept very busy here.
There is little wood here for building. The Poplar trees are harvested and the small, thin trunks are used in the wall construction in between the mud bricks. It seems to work, but the houses melt slowly over time.
We are staying at the Asia Khiva Hotel.
We walked into the old walled city after we settled in at our hotel. There are tombs on the bottom of the walls. The walls slope at a forty-five degree angle for about thirty feet or so. That is where the tombs are scattered about. Then the wall goes straight up about twenty feet or so.
The walls are made of mud bricks and are quit thick. They have stood for thousands of years, but over time the rains and wind make them slowly disappear if they are not maintained.
The town inside of the walls looks like Santa Fe with square, flat roofed mud houses. The roads are made of stones and boulders. Two cars can easily pass each other through the entrance gate.
The minarets are the most beautiful so far. They have bands of different colored ceramic tile wrapped around them. You can see them from anywhere in the small town.
The temperature is higher here, but the breeze keeps it very comfortable.
We had a fine dinner in a large restaurant in the old walled city. The meal consisted of bread, four cold salads, soup, main course, and a dessert. I’m not complaining at all. The food is always great and the bread is to die for.
The bread on this trip has been wonderful. It is similar in all of the countries as the borders are artificial. The bread looks like a pizza crust on steroids and is docked with tools of many designs. The edge is similar to a pizza but is a larger diameter roll around the edge. There are flowers and swirls in the bread made by the tiny pins of the docking tool. The tools can be bought in the bazaars.
The bread smells and tastes wonderful. I will miss the bread when I return home. I doubt that I will be able to find it in my neighborhood.