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Published: April 10th 2019
Yesterday we rode our second bullet train, this time from Bukhara to legendary Samarkand. One and a half hours on the train was far preferable to six hours riding in a bus (which is what our luggage did). We passed from desert to fertile lands, seeing acres of fruit trees recently planted and starting to grow. One of the nicest surprises I have found in this part of the world is a blossoming springtime. Expecting mostly desert and seeing flowering apple and cherry trees is an unforeseen delight. But we are still in the northern hemisphere, so spring should have been expected; I had just forgotten about it living in early springtime's frozen white country of northern Maine where we won't find blossoms until May. Seeing a lovely spring here now is a wonderful treat!
Several hours of our last morning in Bukhara were left unscheduled for us to have time to finish our shopping in the many markets starting right across the street from our hotel, the Omar Khayam. Market shops are scattered everywhere here in Bukhara's Old City, many crammed into and through the famous domed bazaar a short walk away. I enjoyed wandering through the little shops, buying a few special things here and there, walking with friends and waiting while they bought handmade rugs, embroidered coats, jewelry, scissors, silver bells, toys and knick-knacks, but yesterday morning was dull and rainy; most shops didn't open until after 10AM, my companions were nowhere to be seen, so I walked through the quite empty streets alone in the rain, taking a last look at the now familiar jumble of streets and colorful shops, reminding myself of where I was. This was always a place for traders, and I was in Central Asia's most sacred city, the hub of intellectual as well as spiritual growth and pilgrimages as far back as the 700s. But one quickly becomes accustomed to being in even the most foreign countries; seeing unusual faces and clothing soon becomes the familiar, the expected. Perhaps this is good, seeing beyond the exterior to the human within, feeling a likeness, a bonding, recognizing the other as the same. What we look like, what we wear, should not matter. It is a wonderful gift to learn this again and again as I travel throughout this varied and extraordinary world.
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