Monday, April 22, 2013

April 21, 2013

Perhaps a bit anxious about the trip down south, I woke up before four in the morning and decided to get out of bed and get the day going. I went back and forth with the packing of my clothes as I didn’t want to pack heavy winter stuff, but wasn’t sure either that my lightweight stuff would suffice at this time of the year.

According to the Google weather forecast, temperatures would range from mid-50s to mid-70s in Osh. I decided to take a chance and just packed most of my Tajik outfits and carried a shawl in my purse. Elvira came to pick me up in a taxi and we headed to the airport in a clear day most suitable for a picnic somewhere.

I had had breakfast and confirmed with Elvira there would be a restaurant at the airport where we could have a bite to eat for lunch, but after going through security, we found out the restaurant was closed for renovation and there was only  available consisted of a kiosk selling cold fried snacks.

Elvira asked around and was told there was a restaurant right outside the airport and I headed there to have a bowl of soup and flat bread. When I came back, it was time to check in and our luggage exceeded the 20 kilo limits the airline allowed. She had to go and pay for the additional four kilos.

We rode the requisite bus to the old airplane and I found that there was no air whatsoever coming from the vents. I sweated for the most part of the 40 minute flight where we were offered a piece of hard candy and a small cup of water.

 The landing was smooth, but retrieving our luggage was a mess as the Osh airport doesn’t have a carousel for that purpose and the luggage was just piled on the steps of the building with the passengers pretty much fighting their way in to get theirs.

The guest house we were staying in had sent a driver to pick us up. We drove through the countryside where peasants could be seen squatting in their fields while others plowed the land with the help of draft animals. We then drove through the chaotic center with the usual run down structures although a bit of color seemed more prevalent there than in Bishkek.

The guest house in question looked as dilapidated as the city in itself. When the receptionist pointed to the two rooms directly in front of the reception area and the front door as being our rooms, I balked and simply refused to accept such accommodations. I felt doubly insulted when told there was no attached bath, but a toilet across the hallway, in view of anyone in the lobby, and a shower around the corner.

I had been quite explicit with Elvira in indicating I needed a quiet room with an attached bath since I usually get up once or twice to empty my bladder. We’d had that conversation not two weeks ago, so for her to now say she had forgotten to mention it to Jyldyz, the Forum coordinator in Osh, who waited for us at the guest house, was simply unpardonable.

I insisted we needed to find another hotel and it was almost 7:00 pm and I needed to eat dinner. Jyldyz got on the telephone and so did Elvira to no avail since apparently all the hotel cost more than the $25.00 per night Elvira had allocated for lodging.

I then remembered that Naziba was from Osh and had offered her assistance on Saturday. I called her and she recommended the Osh Nuru hotel, which happened to be practically around the corner from the guest house. Elvira and Jyldyz told me I’d not like it since it was an old Soviet-style hotel, but I was willing to give it a try.

Elvira felt it was too late to go looking for another room and agreed with the guest house to move me into a regular room with an attached bath, and away from the reception area, just for one night for $41.00. We then went to a Turkish restaurant for dinner, nothing to write home about, and next door to a supermarket to buy the supplies for the coffee break the next morning.

We took a taxi to the hotel Osh Nuru and were pleasantly surprised to discover that they had been remodeling the place and had rooms on the 7th floor with attached baths for the same $25.00 fee. The receptionist spoke some English and was very cordial. I chose a room away from the main drag and we made reservations for the next day.

We walked back to the guest house and after making arrangements for making my coffee in the morning and borrowing an iron, I went to sleep exhausted.

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