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Khiva the museum city. That is his reputation. I arrive at nightfall and the cold has fallen on the city. I moved into the first small hotel inside the compound.
I plan to stay here for two days.
The next day is sunny but icy. I’m going to wander around the city.
Very few Western tourists, I will count about twenty of them throughout the day. Some Uzbeck tourists. Overall more traders and exhibitors than tourists, that’s for sure. And just like in Samarkand, brides being photographed in front of the various monuments. One of them makes me feel sorry: I’ve never seen such a sad look in a bride before. Arranged marriage? Probably. Outside the walls, the ballet of cars running with the screeching of tires in a cloud of dust replaces that of the horses of yesteryear.
But the city is pleasant and not too big. The monuments are really beautiful. The “Friday Mosque” (Juma Mosque) particularly seduces me with its wooden colonnades.
Goujat I am
After 2 hours of wandering in almost deserted streets, the cold winter makes me find a warm place to have a life-saving coffee. At the entrance, a woman smoking, talks in perfect English with an Uzbek. The French accent nevertheless remains perceptible and I therefore greet her with a great hello as I pass by. She answers me, obviously stunned. I answer his silent question by telling him: “you are French”, an affirmative question on my part. She answers me: “Yes, but how do you know that?” I say “your accent”. She answers contrite: you ruined my day, I thought I had perfect English. The guilt embraces me (well not really but good) and I try to reassure her: “your English is perfect (which is true) but the French accent remains recognizable among all. We talk for a few minutes and I hand him my card. She in turn introduces herself: Senator on an official visit… So that day, I was a jerk to a senator…..
Sorry, Senator, really.
In the evening at the hotel, I meet Kenza, a young French tourist. The conversation begins over a coffee by candlelight, due to a power outage. She is charming. We decided to go to dinner together and we found two other French people, whom she had met in Samarkand or Bukhara, I am no longer so sure.
The next day, I have to leave one day early. The day is beautiful but a snowstorm is announced for the next day and I can’t afford to stay stuck because of the very limited validity of my Turkmen visa. (5 days, fixed dates, but I will come back to this in a future post).
Utopia, refuses to start: battery out of order, the cold is too cold. At night, it must fall below -10°C. The owner of the hotel across the street came to help me spontaneously and 20 minutes later Utopia finally started.
If you go to Khiva, go to his house, he’s really nice: Zukhro Boutique Hotel
There you go. Two short posts but the next one is much less so….. I hope to finish it by tonight….. 😉