Friday, June 19, 2009

Of Uzbekistan: Three Buckets of Cheese and One Ton of Hay

Hiking in the mountains was nice. It's kind of difficult to really do much hiking in Latvia. To your correspondent, you can't really go "hiking" unless you have some mountains or at least hills. I suppose walking through a scenic forest could be hiking, but even though there are plenty of forests in Latvia there don't seem to be many trails. Or maybe we just don't know where to look.

Anyway, it was great to go hiking. I went with one other tourist in the area - a Ukrainian guy -- and one of the young men from the family I was staying with, who served as guide, rode on a donkey while we walked, and borrowed my camera to take a picture of me in front of every tree and bush along the way (none of those pictures are being posted). He also helped us find some cool old petroglyphs of a stick figure with a spear chasing a bunch of bighorn sheep. Along the way we passed homes of other villagers (and their pack animals carrying hay to wherever it is you take hay, as below). The girls above (looking at my Ukrainian hiking companion as we each took a picture of them) thanked us for showing them their picture on the digital camera LCD by offering us each several of the bite-size cheese balls they were carrying in their buckets. I've never had anything like them - they cheese, but hard as a rock. They were also one of the few local foods I had in Uzbekistan that turned out to be not delicious. It was ridiculously kind of the girls to give them to us, but I carried the cheese balls around in a pocket for a day and then left them behind in my next hotel room.

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