Traveling in Central Asia makes you feel like you are traveling back in time, the ancient Silk Road where people keep their culture the same way like centuries ago, but what mainly did not changed is their generous hospitality with travelers.
It was in this old desert with long roads and oasis when everytime we knocked in a door to ask for a place to pass the night we felt a very natural and warm welcome. This is a consecuence of being host for centuries for the tradesmen who cross the desert between Europe and China. They are people who like to meet foreigners, to talk, to make you feel confortable, to show you their culture and make you meet their family. No matter if you dont understand their language because they know to find the way to communicate.
In Central Asia when they see a traveler around the people will open so fast the doors of their houses and prepare some dinner with everything they have. In another countries the people is afraid of foreigners, in Central Asia foreigner and guest looks to be the same thing. They teached us to trust to people and that by sharing too much time with them we could learn more about their life and culture.
We started with Kazakhstan crossing later Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, from the dusty desert Kyzym Kum till some of the highest roads in Pamir mountains, remote roads where you can not ride very fast, sand or ice are going to slow you down, land of nomads people and wild horses, camels, wolfs and marco polos and some time huge trucks from Russia that let behind them a very big dust cloud. They were very lonely days and a great test to meet ourselves, no villages, just somethimes Chaigana (place for hot tea or rest, and to fix flat tires) where we could take a break.
One of this days we arrived to Usturt, a very small community of people who work in a gas platform in the middle of desert in Southern Kazajistan with only few. We looked around but there were nobody in the streets until suddenly then from the a house left a kid. We went to him with the motorbike and he started running to another house probably afraid that we were following him. Then we asked him for his parents, he knocked on the door and many people left out. Mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, unties, many children… a big family. With few Russian words we asked for a place to sleep. They saw us dirty and tired and very fast they invited us to go inside. It was house with not much things inside, with big rooms covered with colorful carpets in the floor and in the walls. The mother sent one of the boys to take bucket with water, we kneel down how they told us and the kid started washing our hands and our faces. After that they took us to the biggest room and there was long and low table full of food, no chairs so we seat in the carpets around the table. It was Bairam, a muslim hollyday. In those days the houses are opened for everybody and the food is always ready, lamb, camel milk, apples, candies, nuts, and sweets. This was a interesting way to start with Central Asia, we discovered that for this first days in the desert food and bed will be easy to get always we can arrive to some house or “chaigana”. After the dinner the women in the house prepared a room for us with a couple of fat handmade carpets on the floor and we had this night one of the best sleep in very long time.
But the hospitality in Central Asia is not only a characteristic only from the people who live in the desert, also in the mountains the doors were open for us.
We were traveling through Tajikistan in November, beginning of the winter. From the first kilometers of the famous Pamir Highway the people was telling us that it´s going to be very cold when we start to climb the mountains. I was with not proper jacket and shoes for winter ride, note ven gloves and we were ignorant that the road was reaching to almost 5.000 m altitude. Some people start to make us presents with big and fat clothes that will help me to keep r up in the mountains. Tajiks were right, we face temperatures low as -20ºC degrees and white storm which mix strong winds and snowing at same time, freezing everything in its way. We got mountain sickness symptoms with headaches, nose bleeding. It was very hard to breathe and we suffer very stressful moments. The hospitality of this people was the most important in this area. Without them it was imposible to cross the mountains because every house we could see along the road we were stopping and the people was giving us hot tea and invite us to seat near the fireplace to make warm our feet and hands and to get dry our clothes, of course when was getting dark they always offered us a place to sleep.
People in Central Asia may don´t have much money or things but they will make their guest be more than confortable. Simple people, with not expensive properties have no reason to worry or to be afraid for loosing something, so they are more open to receive a strange in their house. Also for then is more important passing time with people and have a nice conversation because they are not distracted with things. They teach us that with nice words and real smile every door can be opened, so after those countries we did not want another way to spend the night but in the house of some local people, and like this we did, in 4 years with our bike around the world no a single night we pay for a hotel (click here to see how we got it).