I don’t think I’ve ever pinched myself but I did cry the first time I visited Euro Disney. Why? It was as naff as I had expected but for me it was like the Taj Mahal, something momentous and I was there. We take a suitcase when we travel but we take much bigger baggage, ourselves, our thoughts, our reactions, the real ‘who we are’. At first reaction there isn’t time to rig up our defences, it takes a while to dream up a witty remark, the throwaway line. Disappointment hovers over our faces, all this way and it’s a bloody con. Another let down. But the sad thing is, the let down is entirely ourselves, that’s why travelling is so fraught.
I still feel disappointed, the Fergana valley should have been beautiful. It sounds lovely, fertile, lush, nestling between two mountain ranges. Well the mountains were too far apart to be part of the scenery I saw. The farming was donkey based and not very exciting, not even quaint – that would be patronizing. No, it was just another disappointment in a long list in my life starting with Cream Crackers. I remember a British Rail train journey when I was 4, the excitement of waiting for the delicious biscuit. Surely the best one I would ever eat, only to discover dreary, creamless crackers.
So why am I here, looking at a dull landscape of no visual merit, Gengis Khan might have passed this way, hordes of Mongols fought savage battles. I could wait for Alexander the great to put in an appearance, who knows? But for me it was just a disappointing landscape, I felt cheated, faintly cross – with myself. How dare I, spoilt brat, travel all this way just to beef about a landscape that falls short of a glamour I had invested in it.
Sophie, being enterprising and practical had catered for such feelings with a bottle of Baileys followed by some fearsome brandy which we drank out of an orange plastic mug before our evening meal – but that’s another blog see here.
I loved the moments when Sophie turned to me and was able to say,
“Lil, you’re here”.
First sight of Khiva’s city walls. The tiny flowers growing in the desert. The Registan in Samarkand. Dancing with the grannies. Eating Cornish pasties in the bazaar, there are more lovely moments, too many to mention. And I learnt to smile, it cost nothing and was well received. I learnt to put the difficult moments on the back burner and enjoy the little things.
All in all it was a tremendous success and that was very much thanks to Sophie. She reads things, uses her mobile, grasps the currency, is infinitely curious and launches into discussing everything with people who’s English is rudimentary, I was full of admiration, I am full of admiration. Thanks!