Saturday, May 11, 2013
May 11, 2013
I was having my last piece of cheese for breakfast when Elvira knocked on the door to indicate she was ready to take a walk to the Saturday market nearby even though breakfast hadn’t been served yet and it was already a few minutes past eight. She had peeked into the owner’s room and seen the couple still asleep.
As we were going down the steps, a stout woman I’ve never seen approached us with a tray containing a pot of tea, four fried eggs and that detested Russian bread. I turned the whole thing down reminding Elvira I’d had three pieces of salami and some cheese. She had her breakfast al fresco while I went across the street to take some photos in the park.
The market was a crowded, but colorful affair affording me the opportunity to take numerous photos of vendors and customers alike while they haggle for prices and tried to attract passersby to buy their wares. I only bought half a kilo of the sweetest dates unable to pack anything else into my already bulging suitcase.
Elvira went to town with her shopping buying a distinctive type of rice only grown here, pistachios, hazelnuts and dried apricots. The canvas bag felt like it was filled with rocks as we both pulled it by one handle on the way back to the guesthouse. While waiting for Jygit to come and take us to the airport, I worked on the photos I had taken and found the Internet speed to be good enough to upload them to my Facebook page.
Jygit came by at quarter to eleven and stopped at a convenience store so I could buy something to drink. There was nothing cold, but what they claimed to be iced tea and turned out to taste like cleaning fluid. After one taste, I gave it to Elvira to finish it. She, in turn, bought two fried samsas filled with a local herb to eat while in flight.
The tiny airport didn’t have an X-ray machine, so all luggage and handbags had to be examined by hand. Elvira was in a huff when told her luggage exceeded the allowance per traveler and argued with the airport employee trying to get an exemption. Since she was holding the line back, I told her to just cough up the money since she knew she had purchased all those edibles for her family.
Her riposte was that she was fighting the fees since she would not be reimbursed for that expense from the grant money. Dumbfounded I commented that the grant money was not intended to pay for her personal expenses and that she needed to dig into her own pocket for those.
The flight took off on time and while I started to write a list of things to do when I got back to Bishkek, something that perplexed Elvira to no end, she promptly went to sleep claiming she’d had a restless night.
The day was overcast and we had chosen a seat over the wings, so there was no view to be had. I opened up my laptop and edited the remaining photos while the battery lasted so they could be ready for sharing when got back to my flat. I was able to read the beginning of a book on the life and works of George Orwell before the battery went dead.
Elvira woke up when the landing announcement was made. As we were exiting the airport, we went past a taxi kiosk and I asked Elvira what the plan was for transportation back into the city since were being besieged by taxi drivers at the moment. She didn’t reply and just continued walking.
She then struck a conversation with one particular taxi driver and we followed him into the parking when we boarded a newer type of SUV vehicle. He drove a little bit and then stopped on the curb, so I asked Elvira what was going on since my bladder was in desperate need of emptying and I was hungry and tired.
She informed me the driver didn’t have the required tax ID number she’d need to file her report and was talking to some of his fellow drivers to find one who had it. The car had automatic windows and thus I couldn’t even open them. After waiting for a few minutes, and noticing the murderous looks I was projecting, Elvira took off without saying anything to me.
I waited a while longer without seeing either one of them coming back. I was so furious I just wanted to get any taxi and pay out of my pocket so I could get the hell out of that place and into my own apartment. I went to find Elvira who was still talking to a crowd of drivers trying to find one with the proper paperwork. She panicked when she saw I wasn’t carrying her own handbag and yelled at me for leaving it unattended in the taxi.
I yelled back that I was sick of waiting and just wanted to get home. The driver followed us and apparently promised to get the paperwork along the way for he stopped again once again we got near the Osh Bazaar and said he’d be right back. I allowed him ten minutes before telling Elvira she’d better get me into a taxi for the remaining few blocks to my house or someone was going to get hurt.
Since the taxi driver couldn’t be seeing anywhere, she flagged a taxi and transferred our luggage into it and directed him to take me to my place first. She got into the taxi as well and refused to accept my offer to pay for it. When we got to my place, she offered to help me with my luggage and numerous bags, but I turned down the offer since I was just desperate to make it to the toilet in time.
I had nothing to eat at home except for an apple, an orange and the dates I’d brought from Batken. I ate those and called Willoughby to arrange for dinner at a Turkish restaurant she’d found to her liking. We settled for five o’clock thus giving me a chance to go across the street to pay for my Internet access and buy some staples.
I walked to the Anatoli restaurant and found Willoughby already there. The poor woman had to listen to me for a couple of hours I as ranted and raved about my three-week ordeal through the south of Kyrgyzstan. Even in Bishkek, of course, I couldn’t find anything to my liking at this place since I didn’t want to eat meat. I had to settle for a salad and the yellow lentil soup I’ve come to like.
The so called “salad” was just a rather dry dip accompanied by bread that was cold and tasteless. At least the beer was cold. Willoughby wanted for me to try their baklava, which I did, and found it to be was decent. She insisted on paying as a way of welcoming back to Bishkek and brought out half of a banana bread loaf she’d baked earlier so I could have something to eat for breakfast.
I walked back to the flat content to know I’d be sleeping in my own bed, with a real pillow, and no commitments to think about for the next few days.