I came to Uzbekistan in May 2006, as an independent tourist. Having studied the history of Central Asia and the Uzbek language in college at the University of Chicago, I was confident that I would be able to find my way around Uzbekistan on my own. After successfully navigating my way from Tashkent through Samarkand, Bukhara, Khorezm, and Karakalpakistan, I found myself back in Tashkent with too much time on my hands. Eager to escape the busy pace and dirty skies of the big city, I arranged a trip to the mountain village of Khumsan through OrexCA.com. I must say, from the majesty and grandeur of the Registan to the excitement of entering Tajikistan quasi-legally to visit the Sogdian ruins of Pendjikent, nothing compared with the hospitality the people of Khumsan showered on me.
When I arrived in Khumsan, I was warmly welcomed into the Akramov's house and a delicious, warm meal was immediately served with fresh, still-warm-the-goat milk and locally-produced wine. Best of all was washing my food down with crystal clear water from the family's stream. Later that night I visited another family in Khumsan and was treated to a delectable stir-fry of mushrooms and potatoes served with home-made ketchup and more wine. My hosts were so gracious that even after delivering an abbreviated toast in my broken, heavily accented Uzbek, they heaped praise on my "sweet poetry". I remember ending my night by chewing on wild, mountain rhubarb and gazing at a sky abundant with stars I had long forgotten.
My final day in Khumsan, I took a horse-back trip through a gorge in the mountains. I remember at the beginning of the journey, still at the bottom of the gorge, looking up into the heights and seeing little houses, perched among the cliffs. The great joy of the trip was visiting these homes. At every single one, a family waited with tea and food, ready to serve us. What a joy it is to sit with friends, drinking mint-flavored tea and listening to the gentle trickle of waterfalls!
I plan to visit Uzbekistan again, and when I do, I will coordinate my whole trip through OrexCA.com and I will insist on visiting all of the villages where they have contacts. I didn't have any trouble independently planning a fulfilling trip to Uzbekistan, but after my visit to Khumsan, I am convinced that I missed many of Uzbekistan's true gems. Next time I will trust the experts of OrexCA.com to help guide me to the biggest adventures and friendliest families of Uzbekistan.