August 21, 2007 – Timeless Architecture and War Veterans

Dancing in the park after prayer- a group of Uzbek women share laughter in a park near the mosque

The warm smiles of the Uzbek people, the surprising and timeless architecture of this Silk Road center continue to make us feel relaxed and happy we came to Uzbekistan.

We began our day today with a walk to a soviet park that was built in the 1920’s,  Jim, whose business is hydraulic lifts was fascinated watching the well maintained, efficient amusement rides at the park.  Our favorite was “propeller driven” - there were two quite small fans that circulated the metal chairs and thrilled the riders.

An Uzbek war veteran shares his story with us Later we visited the 9th century mausoleum that was the first of Bukhara’s sites to be made a UNESCO world heritage site and that today sees many pilgrims from around the Islamic world each year.  We watched a group of women from Kyrgyzstan praying and later we encountered a happy group of pilgrims from Ferghana here in Uzbekistan.  As soon as the older women of the group saw us they asked where we were from.  Then the oldest woman, who seemed to be the leader of the group said to another woman, “go get the tambourine, we will dance after we pray.” 

Sure enough a while later the ladies emerged from their holy duties and we all enjoyed a festive and laughter filled time dancing in the park near the mosque.  There were many friendly locals around the area as well and we enjoyed sharing smiles and laughter, although we could not speak much – they knew little English and we knew no Uzbek.

Alex and Julie strolling in the old cityWhen we parted, we continued our walk and the ladies got back on their bus, they smiled, blew kisses back at us and shouted, “Come to Ferghana!”  We all watched them drive away wishing we had the time.

As we walked back toward the center of the old city of Bukhara, we were spoken to by an old man sitting in his front yard.  Through a translator he asked if we were American.  When we said yes, he told us that he was a veteran of the war and that he had shaken hands with American troops when his Red Army regiment met them at the Elbo River in Germany in 1945.  Alex’s father had been American soldiers when the two victorious armies met, so he particularly enjoyed visiting with the old man.  When the old man lifted his shirt to show us the scars that he’d brought home from the war we knew he suffered much in that greatest of all Russian wars.  He described the backpack filled with food and toiletries that the Americans had given him 62 years ago in Germany and said to us as we walked away, “you are generous people.’ We walked away feeling grateful to have met so many kind and open Bukharians and hoping the good will that had preceded us in this man’s generation would not be lost.

Linda takes a break from sightseeing to purchase some souvenirs from Uzbekistan

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