We were now in the Fergana valley. The morning ride was very pleasant, 25 km downhill from the top of the mountain we climbed the day before. After that, it was flat again. We headed up to Kossonsoy, as we had the address of an old uzbek cyclotourist we met in Ukraine, 2 months ago. We printed pictures we took together, and wanted to bring them by hand to his family, in that (very) remote corner of Uzbekistan, next to the Kyrgyz border. I got a haircut during our afternoon stop : hair washed/cut, and beard shaved by a 14 year old kid…all for 0,80Ђ. Feels like a new beginning
The shortest road was passing along the kyrgyz border. Half of it in Uzbekistan, half in Kyrgysztan…at least, it looked like! We got warned it was hard to ge tthrough, but gave it a shot. When we got there, we got stopped and explained we where going just 10 km away to see our friends’ family, that we were on bike, etc…but it didn’t work out. We had to go backwards and take a much longer way to get where we wanted to (Chindovul). All in all, it was about 150 km extra to give those damn pictures to a family we’re not even sure to find. Anyway, it worths it, we thought. With all the time wasted arguing at the border, we got late and had to catch up with another night ride. When we got tired, we asked some guys hanging out with their mobile phones if we could set up the tent in their backyard. As always in Uzbekistan, it didn’t take long before they brought us plov and watermelon, gave us blankets and room on the terrace to sleep outside. Even if we were exhausted after 130km of cycling, it was good to meet those friendly guys and socialize with them for a good bit of the night.
It’s still very hot in the fergana valley (30 degrees at 8 AM), so we left in the morning. When we got close to the village -still, 40000 inhabitants-, we started asking people if they knew where did Zahid the cyclist live. We quickly got escorted to his family house, where we met his mother, and 2 of her granddaughters. We got extremely well received, and even could (try to) talk on the phone with Zahid, who was currently cycling in Russia. The family, in a very traditional way, insisted for us to stay for the night. At first, we thought we’d cycle some more, but gave up with this idea when we saw the girls were picking up vegetables in the garden to cook dinner for us. We took time to rest, had a swim in the river, fixed our bikes, and improved our russian with them.
We were curious to learn more about Zahid background : he is the oldest of the 11 kids of the baboushka hosting us ; had had 2 wife and 6 kids, and was a 55 years old russian teacher. All in all, there are 56 grandchildren in the family, most of them living nearby. We met good few of them, who came to see those 2 cyclists coming from Europe to give fez pictures. Staying with the family had been our deepest/purest/nicest immersion in Uzbek culture and definitely do not regret those 150 km extra cycling to give them the pictures