The public athmosphere changes right after the border in Kyrgystan. Everybody is much more relaxed than in Uzbekistan. The usual interest in the bike is there, but not so intensed and pressures. I hang out a while and take in the new sphere, change money and chat with the guys around my bike.
Just a few kilometers to Osh where I take a few rounds, it is only 11am and I enjoy to have time. Peter is reached by phone and he gives me the tip to try to get to the "Tes Guesthouse" where I would meet other bikers wbith who I can come the next day to their working place, checking my bike. All works out fine by asking people who are happy to help.
I meet the New Zealand bikers Penny and Igor, very nice people, and after a chat and putting up my tent as the cheapest way to stay in the friendly place, I walk to the market for some food and drinks where I didnt have to pay more than everybody else. On the way back I take the way though the huge park which is partly an amusement park. I only see relaxed and even happy people. Old men have phantastic high hats from which I have to get one. The woman are dressed in wonderful coloured summer dresses and kids have fun. Everything is unbelievable cheap, the food e.g. which I take some in an open restaurant. The waitress is cool and able to communicate with me in sign languge and anyway its not too complicated what is needed. But I am astonished about her practicality and easiness. I think I found a good place.
Tomorrow I check out the Swiss guys who run the "Muztoo" touring to check my bike through. All seems fine again.
Sociologically it is a great study to see all the different characters coming and leaving at "Tes Guesthouse" in Osh, where I am stuck to manage the future tour.
Besides me the only people who have to work here are the people who run the house, led by a resolute lady with hair down to the middle of the calf, an internatinal team of biologists, who took samples of plants throughout Kyrgystan and a doctor working for the Red Cross in prisons fighting the tuberculosis and two guys from the UNHCR.
The rest of the many travelers have nothing else to do but resting, doing the laundry, exchanging tips where to go and waiting to take off again. Many did travel the Pamir Highway, either with bicycles, motorcycles or cars, or they are going to. A luxury I cant do unfortunately.
Whole groups, led by a company, come for a night or two, usually under the gudance of a loud speking lady from one is Rachel, who does it already continously since a couple of years, having quit her office job and now much more happy to travel the whole region. I try to encourage her to write a book after this period in her life, managing all these sociological experiments of driving mixed groups of peopel who never met before through all kinds of environments and nature. There must have been quite some interesting scenes.
But most travel under their own steam. Like the Ungarian bicyclist who stood out of the nothing in front of me, telling his story of where he cam from and where or where he doesnt want to go next. He is one perfect example of a singel traveler who starts speaking immediatly, whether one wants to hear it or not.
Probably I did the same when I met Igor, the biker from NZ the first moment I entered the camp. But I knew soon when to give space and when people are looking for communication.
Unfortunatly the bike check with Igor at "Muztoo" was build up on a misunderstanding, me thinking he is the one biker who wants to go there anyway the next day as Peter from "Muztoo" told me. He just did go with me because he thought I need him to show me the way, just out of helpfulness he was staying for hours there with me working on his bike. You see, assuming something is not enough, that he is the biker to come with me there. Anyway Igor enjoyed not less than me maintaining his bike and chatting about the plus and minus of different bikes. His BMW100 is tuned for the trip with better suspensions which did it even through mongolia with two passengers, no complicated electronics, all accessable, huge tank, and after some problem with the coils it is running on just two of the four sparkplugs. The perfect bike for such a trip.
Penny and him are the same happy as me to have found an easy going contact through wich we can reflect our tour and observations a bit beyond the usual: "where from and where to"-showing off.
When they leave I give them a good luck charm: 6 wine gum devils.
-They are only six. I didnt think about it. It should be seven, but the sevenths is my wish that you never have to pull one out on the trip to beat the devil.-
Since their departure the camp wasnt the same anymore. A vacuum of one day of writing emails, waiting for answers and making new connections in the camp for my sociological studies passed.
Penny and Igor have a niece website of their trip as well. Much less text then here and more photos. Worth to look at! http://igorandpennyhittheroad.wordpress.com/
The scenery in the camp continues to change. A Belgium traveler asks for a guide to take him by horse through a certain pass, the biologists leave with their driver Muchan, a Uzbek of Kazakh origin, who chatted to me in Russian about his life in which he did also some touring for a ballet group through Europe, ... if I understood right.
Juri the Russian, a former advocat, does geological exploratory drillings in the region of Magadan, is dicussing the problem of noisy breaks of his car and shows me pictures of his trip and work. The Ungarian cyclist is still undecided and puts up the tent again. Etc., etc. .
Joe works for the UNHCR in Kyrgystan and confirms my theory that NO ethnical conflict between groups, like the one which happened exactly here three years ago, develops to severe fighting between the gropups, unless it is not steered by the politics. All societies have their own regulating processes developed. Only if they are controled by the governmets and small conflicts are used for their political reasons, it happens to become a war like situation between groups. What the UNHCR is trying to do is working on the base, creating meeting places, kindergarten, building up the destroyed houses again. For sure, if the kids learn to play with the others, it is more unlikely that they will kill each other later. Building up the houses of only one side doesnt work, since the others get envy. Sven from the German GIZ in Tadschikistan, on a holiday with his family through Kyrgystan, told me also about the effort they put into these countries. The problem seems to be the continuity once they installed something. Every culture runs on their own policies and procedures. And like I agree with Joe and Sven, it took hundreds of years of violent conflicts to get in Europe to that what we call now a democracy. The big mistake alsways seems to be, not to reflect critically on that system while telling others what and how to do. The best opion seems just to offer a dialoque and help if countries like Tadjikistan and Kyrgystan want to work on a process which goes along with the humanitarian and economic aims of the foreign organisations. But lets be blunt about it as well. With all respect for that kind of work, these improvements are often initiated just for the trouble-free profit-making with these countries and sourced by political interest. Otherwise, how could it be that countries which dont fall into the range of interest, are sometimes left alone in their misery?
One strategy is to have the organisations as much as possible working indepedently with their own budget and aims. But if one is fed from the tax income of one country the work has to be done according to the political aims of that country.
In the arts I am lucky that one supporter of my work is the Goethe Institute, where the local directors still have a lot of range to decide about the projects. But also there it is sometimes a game of balance with the themes they have to stick to once they are decided in general meetings for the whole region, and very often I got replies of interest, but the priorities would be focussed differently.
Possible sponsors from the economy need the publicity and sometimes try to push the results to more spectacularity then it is healthy for the artistic and social effect. Rarely money is given for arts and no questions are asked.
Understandable. It all would not be such problem if on the side of the sponsors would be more people with an understanding for the artistic processes, with who it is possible to get into an eyelevel dialoque about the aims. From the side of the ecomnomy I never met one, in organisations like the Goethe Institute yes.
How can it work out for all sides without a tranparent and reciprocal dialogue? Whenever one is not offering that, be careful, there is probably something else behind it.
While I write this, a group gathers in the conference room of the hostel. I find out that it is not only a hostel, but the seminar room is rented to organisations for seminars as well.
All fits together at this place. My theory is that it works out very well because of the well taken care of the gardens in and around the place and the resolute but aimful chef of all, the lady with the hair down to her calf.
Unbelivable what goes in and out here. All of these people go in different directions, sometimes the same with time differences. In my mind I try to see all the peole in different speeds with their vehicles distributing through the region on a imaginative map. The game to play here is not to jump from one to the other, but to see them all at once, beating the usual reduction of complexity. But not only I see this, they might have same imaginations about where the others go. The capacity of imagination finds its limits when you include the multiplying encounters they have. Have a try and imagine this is happening constantly all over the planet. It seems to work better when one relaxes and just takes unagitated breaths about what comes: it is just the whole world at once you are able to see and understand. When you feel your ass is routing strongly down to the ground, you are close to be calm with whatever happens around and with you.