The Bike Trip Begins

I apologize for the long silence...the last few months in Tajiksitan were amazing!

Mikey did a lot of mountaineering...lots of stories to share when we see you next, but I'll give an overview to wet your palet.

2 friends from St. Mary's came to visit, they picked an epic route to hike, Mikey got high altitude pulminary adima resulting in the need to drop altitude as quickly as possible. Mikey's health improved, but they were in a restricted area, verbal permission was granted for their presence in this area, but internal communication wasn't good. They were escorted from the area by the FSB (KGB) and were under supervision for 3 days working out all the details.

A climbing group with the American Alpine Club came to visit the Pamirs. Mikey was invited to hike/climb with them and had a great time. On one trip they summited a previouslly unclimbed peak.

As for me, I participated in some amazing work being sponsored by the US State Department in rural and conservative areas of Tajikistan. Summer Camps, specifically CAMP AMERICA! American style summer camps complete with Art, English, Drama, Sports, Rock Climbing, and more. It was spectacular, and it is my plan to return to Tajikistan next summer to repeat the whole expereince, woo hoo!!!

We left Tajikistan 5 days ago on bicylces and are now in Osh, the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan. Our last day in Tajikistan we were treated to a spectacular day by a co-worker Maksud and his fmaily in the Isfara- Ferghana valley region. We will miss Tajikistan more than words can express!

Our first four days on bikes was great, my crotch and legs are a little sore, but I'm confident these aches will pass. In this part of Kyrgyzstan it is very hard to avoid Uzbekistan, which we don't have visas for, it's both inside and outside of Kyrgyzstan, and we zigged and zagged to avoid it, we'll continue to zig and zag around Uzbekistan in the next two days too.

Similar to Tajikistan, Kygryzstan has new roads being built by the Chinese. We road through a 100 plus kilometer Chinese construction sight. I was surprised to see a middle aged Chinese women in the middle of the Kygyz desert working to build a new road. When Mikey and I talked about her potential motivation, Mikey reminded me that there are more poor people in China than there are people in the U.S. People who find themselves struggling to survive are usually willing to take oppurtunities for change, even if that oppurtunity comes late in life and happens to be a desert in Kyrgyzstan. Made me think.

We discussed Chinese influence and business in Central Asia and the world, and talked about the potential for China to continue gaining influence and power and to once again perhaps "rule the world", Mikey was clear in adding "again" after this statement.

In the guest house this evening we have a small, ecclectic group of 8 people: Americans, Iranians, a Syrian-Swiss, Australians, and a Canadian. It has been informative to compare the versions of history that we have learned and use as our lenses to understand the world. They're different, and it's been fun to debate on the facts and theories (philisophical and conspiracy) of life.

On  to Jalabod tomorrow... our plans are to spend a month in Kygyzstan, 3 weeks in Kazakstan, then we will fly to New Delhi and head to Nepal. We fly from Mumbai to Baltimore on Dec.20th. I'll do my best to check in every now and then.