Fergana is one of the many places in the Fergana valley. It is the fruit going area in Uzbekistan. Fruit trees are every where. Right now strawberries were in season, dirt cheap and delicious. No chemicals, just natural and juicy. I stayed at Valentina’s guesthouse. A private room, with private bathroom. Close to the markets and the centre of town. I met Jean Claude for breakfast the next morning, and asked if I could tag along with him, since he was going to the same places as I had planned! Valentina’s breakfast is legendary! She must have thought I looked like a starving waif! It kept me going for lunch and dinner as well!
After breakfast we grabbed a shared taxi to Rishton, the place famous for its pottery. We visited the famous potter. Potters had been in his family history like forever. Each family has a copy right to a certain design. The pottery shed itself was very small, and the kiln was home build in the back yard. We were looking for the pottery factory, and as we were sharing a pot of, free, tea, the man told us it was just across the road!! What a fascinating place this was! All the women were so funny, welcoming and hospitable. Willing to share their lunch, their tea and their laughter. The only not so happy face was the manager, who kept looking at his watch!
Walking back to the bus station from where we hoped to catch a marsroutka to Kokand, we bumped into a lovely young girl, who asked if she could join us. She was going to the same place, was studying English and French and could do with the practise. Well, it became the best day, Sitora, from Uzbekistan, was nineteen years old. Spoke fluent Uzbeki, Russian,English and was working on her French and German. The three of us went to Kokand where we visited the palace and the old mosque and madrassa. A great time was had by all.t
On the way back we stopped in a place called Boston, because we could, and because there was an enormously big pottery market. Sitora knew of a holy man who had his mausoleum there and who granted wishes for true believers! I asked for world peace, and obviously I am not a true believer as we all know what happened this week, with the mango Mussolini and Iran.
The people at the market were genuinely pleased to have some fair dinkum real tourists in their market, and couldn’t give us enough presents! One of the women was very extroverted and out going, asked Jean Claude for a dance, and great fun was had by all when he obliged.
After making several small purchases, we took a shared taxi home to Fergana. The high, snowy mountain range came into view, and Sitora excitedly pointed them out. Impressive with the late afternoon sun turning the snow to a golden glow. Another great day. We all went out for dinner finishing of this marvellous day on a high note.
The next day we met up again, this time to go to Margilon, the silk place. First off to the markets. Then, just as Jean Claude told us how he had attended an Uzbeki wedding, and me sighing that I would love to attend one, one day. A man called from across the road, a wedding feast in progress. We were invited! More food was to be eaten, more dancing to be done! Fabulous. Afterwards a museum, and time to return to Fergana. Jean Claude to catch a taxi to Tashkent, Sitora to go to work and me to have an afternoon nap! All these experiences making me tired!
One more day to just wander around, visit a museum, do some shopping and organising my shared taxi to Tashkent. Good bye Fergana, and Fergana valley. A magnificent place to visit!