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October 25, 2002

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Tashkent taxi drivers may not know where you want to go, but they always make a huge effort to get you there. For a 50 cent fare, they stop and ask directions, jump lanes, pull illegal u-turns, and run all over the city as if it's a big responsibility to get you to your destination. As in the rest of Central Asia, any car is a potential taxi, a convenient thing to know in such a large city; Tashkent is the fourth largest city of the old Soviet Union (after Moscow, St Petersburg, and Kiev). It sits smack in the middle of Central Asia, the geographic nostril of the region; all traffic seems to snarl its way through these streets. Take a turn off the broad mainstreet downtown and you'll find quiet suburbs of small alleys and village houses.
Local neighborhood religious school.
Later than we intended, after dark, we found the village near Tashkent where Ed's host family lives, the family that he lived with before the events of September 11th caused the Peace Corps to pull their people out of Uzbekistan. We arrived on their doorstep at dinnertime, with a box of chocolates and Lipton tea, and they gave us a wonderful reception even though they had no idea we were coming.
Obviously, Ed didn't 'rough it' in Uzbekistan; this room is the most comfortable accommodation we've had in months.