Linds and I took the bus, a first for both of us, and probably a last. The bus is cheap, about 5 manat for the trip, but it’s also ridiculously crowded and unsafe and slow. The bus depot sells enough tickets to fill up the seats and then the bus driver picks up more passengers for a bribe who crowd into the aisles and stand for the entire three hour journey. I just kept envisioning the bus tipping over and my being crushed by the fat dayzas standing in front of me, or the bus catching fire and, again, being unable to push through everyone to the exit. We weren’t even to Gumdag and we were asking each other how much longer it would be.
As luck would have it, Ilana’s host mother happened to be on the bus and started a conversation with us when she heard us speaking English. When we finally arrived in Serdar, we followed her to her house and Ilana and Casey came soon after with cookies for tea.
Monday morning, two volunteers from the Mary welayat, Sam and Ben, joined us. They were driven up by one of the PC doctors who administered flu shots to us before continuing on her journey to Bbat to close Andy’s bank account. Casey’s friend, Sergey, joined us and our group hired a marshrutka (van) to head out into the mountains to a dacha (cottage). It’s beautiful there in the mountains. There’s actually grass and flowers. And the weather was good with sun.
Tuesday Ilana, Linds and I went to the Russian cemetery by Ilana’s house. I was really excited because I love cemeteries and try to get pictures of them whenever I go somewhere new. I was afraid I might not ever get pictures in Turkmenistan. I’d still like to get shots of a Muslim one here, but at least I got these. It was interesting to see Orthodox crosses everywhere and Cyrillic writing on the stones. Then, it was time for Linds and me to catch a taxi back home. It was a quick little trip, but it was fun.