And serendipity. When I got into Ashgabat today, I discovered that a volunteer from Mary was in for medical reasons and will go back to Mary with me, so I won’t have to take that taxi ride alone. There’s no direct road from Balkanabat to Mary. Everything goes through Ashgabat. And I couldn’t get a plane ticket from Turkmenbashy to Mary, so it means about 11 hours total in taxis. That’s why I split my trip between two days. (I’ll have even more taxi time going to Lebap for a day and to Bayramaly, but I’ll get to those in a later post.) It was really nice to just spend the afternoon in Abat. There were a few volunteers in and I had lunch with one and dinner with another. And it’s extremely nice to not have any pressing matters to attend to for a day or two.
I did learn that our COS conference location has been changed from Awaza to Ashgabat, so I’ll be leaving site a day earlier (and taking another taxi). I’m not that upset about the change in locale. Awaza isn’t that great; there’re way more things to do in Ashgabat, including a photo studio where we can get pictures taken wearing traditional Turkmen garb. Personally, it will mean less lugging around luggage for me. I won’t have to schlep it up to Awaza, then back down to Ashgabat. We’ll be staying at a pretty nice hotel from what I’m told, and I think at some point we’ll make our way to the giant (world’s largest) Ferris wheel they just erected this year!
When I get back from Mary and Lebap, I hope I’ll find time to write a blog about my travels there and post some photos of Merv, but be patient, as those two days back at site might just be a whirlwind of activity and I may have to wait until I’m back in Ashgabat.