1. He abruptly made a u-turn in the middle of the road to circle back to show us something he had seen on the side of the road. It turned out that it was a man riding a donkey in the midday heat. As we looked to the ground, we could see that he had harnessed the largest lizard I have ever seen in the wild. He had a rope around the lizard's hind legs, and the lizard was snapping its wide mouth open and shut. I did not photograph this scene because I knew if I had been outside trapping lizards on a hot day, I would have been really irritated to have a bunch of tourists photograph me from the comfort of an air conditioned minibus. Also, I felt sorry for the lizard--I like lizards pretty well anyway, and this one was truly magnificent.
I asked our guide why the man had trapped a lizard. She asked our driver and then translated back to me that the man wanted to graze his cows in the field, and that these lizards stole the cows' milk. I had never heard of lizards drinking cows' milk before, but as one of our friends on the trip later pointed out, nobody goes out in the midday heat to trap lizards for fun.
2. When we stopped for lunch somewhere in the middle of our drive, he revealed to us (through our guide) that he had a rather large supply of different kinds of alcohol on hand, and advised everyone to drink after lunch to break up the grease in our food. He had mostly hard liquor, but I think one bottle of wine, also. I'm not much of a drinker anyway, and in the heat, nothing sounded worse to me, so I decided to take my chances with the greasy food. Some of my friends on the trip enjoyed our little minibar, though, so he didn't have to feel like his thoughtful gesture was in vain.
It was interesting watching the scenery become gradually greener until we finally reached Bukhara. When we arrived, it was close to evening. We went out to dinner and saved the bulk of our sightseeing for the next day.
After a breakfast in our hotel that included large platters of fresh apricots and cherries, we visited the summer palace of the last emir of Bukhara. It was quite a compound, and included a mix of more traditional and European design elements. There were also a number of beautiful--but very screechy--peacocks wandering around. We were told that they were descended from the emir's peacocks.
After lunch, we spent the rest of the day exploring Bukhara on foot. Here were some of the highlights:
The Ismail Samani mausoleum, which was completed in the tenth century:
Seeing an old mosque still being used for prayers:
A mix of old and new in the city:
Kalan mosque (I think! Maybe I should have written down what I was photographing, rather than relying on my faulty memory):
The Chor Minor ("four minarets") madrasah. Each of the four minarets represents a different faith (Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism):
Bukhara's synagogue. The rabbi's son spoke with us and said that Bukhara has about 150 Jewish families today, some of whom are foreign.
This didn't really lend itself to photographs, but Bukhara had so many fruit trees, especially mulberry and apricot. I love fruit, so I was enchanted.
After spending one full day and two nights in Bukhara, we were scheduled to go to Samarkand, via Tamerlane's birthplace!