East of Paris Bookstore

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Penjikent

On a day trip to Tajikistan, we visited excavations of a 5th - 9th century settlement and a school.  Getting there was arduous and the boarder crossing out of Uzbekistan into Tajikistan and back took several hours in each direction. The experience was worth it.


We drove through grasslands and cotton fields for hours. Here is a photo of Mr. Wonderful and me by an irrigation canal near the endless cotton fields that are draining the Aral sea.


As we neared Penjikent, our destination, we noticed a group of construction cranes. We thought there was a building project in progress, but upon seeing the cranes we realized they were frozen in place with rust and decay. Our guide told us that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the cranes and lots of other machinery stopped working and has been standing in the elements unused and unusable.


Another feature of the collapse of the Soviet Union was unfinished apartment buildings. Construction on various pre-fabricated concrete towers simply stopped 20 years ago. People have moved into the lower floors that were finished or "almost " finished. The upper floors are open, beams rusting, walls crumbling.


Once in the city, we visited an excavation site and hiked through poppy fields with the Pamir mountains in the distance.
We also visited two museums ... one with artifacts from the dig area and one with more modern exhibits.








A Tajik beauty at the Rudaki Museaum, named after the leading Tajik poet.




Lunch was in the home of our entrepreneurial local guide, who runs a B&B for intrepid travelers and also caters meals for larger groups like ours.  The food was bland and heavy on starches, but the atmosphere was lively.  Here is a photo of the salad course:  shredded beets, shredded carrots and kidney beans and chopped beets.
The next photos give a new perspective on fresh lunch meat.
But, the butcher and his children look happy.




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