Uzbekistan

We were confronted by a barrier which clanged shut in our faces as our support van was sent through. The guards sternly reminded us to stay behind the barrier at all times and went off to deal with the van. After a lot of talking and waiting had gone on we could only watch in disbelief from a distance as every single bag and box in the van was emptied out and searched. Our position out in the road was not a very comfortable one as the sun was blazing down on us and there wasn’t a scrap of shade, we were quickly over-heating in our bike gear.

Time dragged on with no sign of progress being made, some of our group were kept out in the sun for over four hours. They had looked suitably shocked when I said there is never a guarantee of getting through before the guards finish work for the day and I described how I’d once had to camp out in No-Man’s land when I was caught between two border posts after the second one had closed. At this point everyone started to eye up the pitifully small areas of grass around us as potential camping spots, and then realised with alarm that the tents had already gone through in the back of the van.

Hmm, rule number one for border posts:

“Don’t let the van go first under any circumstances”

After what seemed like an age had passed, the border guards came over to us behind our barrier and said two people could go through, “women and children first” I muttered under my breath, and it was if they’d heard me. The guard asked for the women to bring their bikes to the Customs area – I let the rest of the group know that I was willing to be bribed and claim one of them as my husband and get them through more quickly.

We had customs declarations to complete in duplicate, searches to be made of our stuff, questions asked and a lot of waiting around. The good news being at least we had some shade in the Customs area.

Finally after many hours we were all through and could continue on our way, the sun was setting so at least we were seeing the landscapes at their best and even the graveyards looked good in this light. We had a 120 mile ride to our hotel, most of it in the dark – we swore softly to ourselves about the border complications as we rode in formation across potholes and pontoon bridges (they’re fond of those in Uzbekistan).

Tiffany