Aridity and water
19.04.2008 - 20.04.2008
View Route Olympia - China on Lent's travel map.
While the first three days in the Garagum ("black sands") were desert experience pure with a mostly yellowish (though hazy because of the weather) wide-stretching horizon and occasional camels on and some very basic service facilities (Cayhana) for supply of tea and pies stuffed with minced goat meat, the scenery changes eastwards of Gazanjyk where the Garagum Canal ends that diverts water from the Amu Darya river for a thousand kilometres along the Kopet Dag mountains and is used for irrigation and drinking water supply (which in Turkmenistan is free of charge).
An interesting sight on the way was the Paraw Bibi Shrine, a popular sanctuary in honor of a virtuous young women that lived in the 11th century. Certainly we're in a muslim country, but the shrine seems only superficially islamized and the merchandise sold to the pilgrims at is really quite similar to some of the European Catholic Mary shrines. With the Iranian border just over the hill top one can see that life in Turkmenistan is affected, but surely not determined by Islam. This is also true in comparison with Turkey, a country that appears as the main sponsor for the now independent Turkmen nation in economic, religious and cultural matters. There is a mosque here and there, but no prayer calls are to be heard anywhere and unlike in Turkey women dress in a colorful way.
School kids in Gazanjyk