Part VIII: Finally Karshi

15 -16 Dec, Sunday and Monday: Tashkent, part Two.

Tashkent. Shit. I’m still only in Tashkent.

I sleep almost straight through 10 hours this time like it was nothing, interrupted only for a few seconds when called to be reminded “you know you aren’t supposed to leave the hotel right?” ACK! Scary phone noise! “Ok.” click. Bang! Asleep again as fast as I had awoke. And there you have it, how jet lag gets you, you get out of it, stay in an airport all night, and you get it right back! Only now you know you can’t leave the hotel for any sort of entertainment. Sad Only expensive food from here on out. The next two days are a bit hazy / not really interesting, so I will not go into them very much other than to say chicks dig it when you talk Russian to them, they are surprised and flattered, and that you do it badly is irrelevant, since you are trying, and they figure anything is better than no effort or knowledge at all. And they’re pretty, too.

17 Dec, Tuesday:
Ok, it’s time for one more try to get to Karshi. Really, it all worked out fine this time. We crammed back in that teeny tiny little flying cave, which was less than about 100 meters from the terminal this time. Yes, we rode the bus. No, Leroy didn’t get off the bus in any sort of unauthorized manner this time, either. I had a good (…umm…good enough?) seat at the back this time, until they told us to have a shot at those fine seats up front, 2 feet from the cockpit door. I got hit with the door and an ass or elbow or two, but it hit me flat at least, not sharp edge on like poor Ken.

It was a pretty uneventful flight. They did serve a round or two of drinks. It seemed like the pilot couldn’t really decide what heading he wanted to take, so he did a lot of turning. We dropped down from above the clouds. However, we stayed IN the clouds. Flaps down. Still in clouds. Gear down. Still in the clouds. Hmm… That’s unusual. Still descending, and turning a lot. Hmm mmm hmm…still in the clouds.


I figure we were at about 250-300 ft when we finally broke the cloud layer. It was a safe landing after that, and pretty uneventful from there. We stepped off the plane, walked past the guys with the slung AK-47s, and straight through the “airport” which I now know truly only means “a place next to a runway.” It was cold. No baggage issues. There were no lights on at all, so the building was somewhat dark and poor looking.

Attila and Csilla (chilla) met us and drove us to the base. You know, I didn’t realize the humor, or the rhyme of the names until just now. As we drove along, everyone stared at us. Not out of hatred or any ill will, but simply at seeing something unusual. We looked back at them with the brightly colored clothes amongst the entire general dirty and dingy feeling of a broken down and beat up rural area. You see quite a few jackets that bear an outward resemblance to a bathrobe. Lots of areas looked like they started to build but gave up. Maybe there’s no roof, missing walls, no windows. This place is so dirt poor, compared to it Tashkent is definitely the rich big city. There were several little stands set up along the road with a hook that had some kind of large animal hung off of it, and a butcher ready to take your order.

There are three different checkpoints we go through, 2 of theirs and 1 of ours. I wouldn’t want to try and run through either of them. The Uzbek soldier for some reason looks at my ID and says “Robert Alan” and waves us through. Didn’t say a word to anyone else, just says my name. That was odd. I would just as soon him not do that.

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