Our weekend started very early - good thing for us our bodies have no idea what time zone we're in...so 5am was no big deal. We rode the train from Tashkent southwest to Samarkand - a 4 hour ride, full of reading, ipods and cross stitch. Unfortunately there wasn't much to look at out the window - some snow covered mountains in the distance and lots of dry, flat land in between. Natalia (our interpreter) and her husband Jon came with us on the trip - thank goodness! Natalia negotiated all over the place...starting with our taxi driver. Apparantely negotiation in Samarkand is even more necessary than in Tashkent!
Our hotel room was luxurious in comparison to where we are staying now - you can tell it was a tourist destination! Large room, intricate wood work, soft toilet paper and English TV channels - paradise! The only problem being that we never could figure out how to switch the shower on from faucet to overhead! Dang!
Our weekend was full of lots of great food - we had plofv (sp?) for the first time...a rice, carrott, meat dish which is very traditional Uzbek food. Stephanie had a lot of lamb...all very good! And Torri had lots of potatoes and bread :) It was nice to finally be able to walk around more and explore the city. We were staying in a very central location and Saturday was beautiful - lots of sun and clear blue skies. Honestly, we really didn't know what to expect as far as tourist stops in Samarkand - but what we found out is that most of the destinations were masoleums...a tomb for random people who apparently were important back in the day. But no one really knew most of them. Truthfully - they all began to run together at some point.
One of the more famous places is Registan - an old Muslim boarding house for young boys to learn koran, astronomy and math. It is a huge facility (hoping to get a picture uploaded for you of this), although most of it has been rebuilt over the years. The highlight was paying 3000 sul ($2) to climb up to the top of one of the towers - you climb a small spiral staircase, with tall steps and no more room than one person at a time. At the top you squeeze your way by wires that hold the tin roof in place and pop your head out the hole in the tin roof. There is only room for one person and it is a little nerve racking to try to turn and take pictures of the view on a small little step that you can't see. While at Registan - we also were apparently celebrities. Took our picture with The Oregonian travel section and our Blazer hat....then a few young boys who wanted their picture taken with us. Quite a comical situation :)
This week at the orphanage - it is Torri's turn to lecture on sensory processing, behavior management, and play skills. A challenging topic to explain in a short amount of time, with limited prior knowledge/experience. They all really loved the joint compression and distraction and seemed to really understand this. Not sure how that will translate into working with the kids though. They continue to bring us pretty challenging kids, mostly so that we can show them how to get response and developmental progress from kids that otherwise would be ignored. One of the biggest challenges has been as a child is brought in - especially behavior kiddos when EVERY caregiver needs to add an explanation or additional information, making translation and keeping up with the problems/needs very difficult. But we seem to be making progress - so we'll keep up the hard work!
Stephanie's wonderful mom is helping us upload pictures as we email them to her and she posts them to the blog. Apparently blogspot hasn't added the picture application in Uzbekistan...go figure! So hopefully we'll have some pics of the kids soon....Thanks Mom!!!!
Steph & Torri