5th November 2019
I lay in the garden with the birds singing in the trees all around as a few chickens clucked on their way past and I could hear some goats rustling around in the trees behind me. The sun shined in the clear blue sky as I appreciated being here in the sweet spot between the heat of summer and cold of winter.
It’s mid October and we’re over half way through the Land of Silk Road Treasures Tour. We’ve already been mesmerised by the Ichan Kala (inner fortress) of Khiva and wondered the captivating streets of Bukhara. Then it was time to get out of town and experience rural life in Uzbekistan. There’s no better way to do that than a homestay. After leaving Bukhara along the road to Samarkand we turned off the road and away from civilisation as we drove over the mountain pass to Nurata. We turned east at Nurata and found ourselves stopping where the plains meet the mountains to change on to a minibus, which could just about drive on the dirt track to the village.
Checking in to our basic but comfortable rooms we went on a walk around the village to get our bearings and see village life. 26 families or around 250 people make up the village. But it’s very spread out and feels like we’re staying in a mini village of just 20 people. After a delicious home cooked meal we enjoyed dancing with the locals as some played the tabla (National kind of drum) and tor (small guitar-like string instrument). It was a lot of fun but everyone was tired from the travel and in true rural homestay style we were in bed at 8.30pm!
The next morning some people relaxed around the homestay while others went on a 8km hike up into the mountains to take in the spectacular views. The dry desert landscape stretched out before us leading all the way to the huge Aydarkul Lake. Beyond that lay Kazakhstan and I pondered that it may be possible to walk north and see no civilisation other than the odd road crossing all the way to the Arctic Ocean. We were in no rush and stopped regularly, especially when we started to see eagles circling above us. We weren’t high enough to see the endangered wild sheep that live in the mountains but saw a man crest the hill riding his donkey and herding goats. After an outdoor lunch in the tranquil gardens we spent the afternoon relaxing and learning how they make bread in the wood fired tandoor. Nigina talked us through the whole process and then we tried some of the bread straight out of the tandoor. It’s doesn’t get any fresher than that.
After time spent in towns everyone enjoyed the change to a slower pace of life and an authentic Uzbekistan experience. We were sad to say goodbye to our host family the next morning but excited to take the golden road to Samarkand to see the Registan.