I am sitting in the business center of the Hotel Koreana, using a keyboard that has English, Korean and Cyrillic characters. I couldn't get into my email, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the Hotel's fast Internet connection and post my first real entry. I think it's Monday here now. After flying for 24 hours (including layovers) with the best travel companions I could have hoped for, we arrived at Tashkent International Airport (via Paris and Istanbul) around 2am Friday, local time. By the time we had our luggage and were processed through customs, it was around 4am, and we were herded off to a hotel for some sleep before we were dispersed to our various locations the next afternoon.
Karen and Joseph to Samarkand, Anna to her Tashkent family and me to my Tashkent apartment. Thank goodness Anna's host mother, Mavjuda Niyazova (a wonderful lady who has been hosting American students for this program for about 10 years) picked me up, brought me there, and showed me around my beautiful apartment. After she left, I unpacked some, found CNN international on TV, napped (soothed to sleep by the familiar voices of Christiane Amanpour and Matthew Chance, and awakened with a jolt to Larry King) and then napped again. The next time I awoke, I thought I heard a very loud bird. I ignored it for a while, then decided to sleepily investigate. For some reason, I checked out my front door, and realized there was someone there. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the door open, even though Mavjuda had shown me how. It was so frustrating to try to communicate my inability to open it and understand what this man was saying to me, since despite all of my pre-departure Russian lessons, I seemed to have forgotten everything as soon as I arrived in Uzbekistan. Dictionary in one hand, I struggled with the lock with the other, to no avail. Finally, I understood the word for window, and heard it again in proximity to the word for key. I ran to my bedroom window, and saw Mavjuda and a young man standing outside, facing me. They nodded when I mimicked throwing the key, so I lobbed it down to them. Pretty soon, they were inside my apartment, and I was ready to die from sheer mortification. How very embarrassing! They were so nice about it, though, and it turns out that they had come by to bring me a brand new microwave! Again, the mortification. But we talked a little, and I showed her family photos (sidebar: she thinks that Dad is very handsome in the old photos where he has a beard, and that Aunt Debbie looks like a Pushkin heroine). Abdulla (Mavjuda's husband, who had been talking to me through the door) also tried to fix my TV, which had apparently thrown a temper tantrum while I was sleeping and was now providing only audio. The young man there was Bahodir, the best friend of one of Mavjuda and Abdulla's sons (both Akbar and Sobir Niyazov moved to New York in August to study there, leaving only their sister Rahima behind).
My next challenge will be navigating my way back home alone for the first time. It's pretty straightforward, so it should be fine, but wish me luck!