In 1987, Alex Bertulis called me out of the blue and invited me to join a team of Seattle climbers on the Seattle-Tashkent sister city climbing exchange. I lived in California at the time, and had the good fortune to be invited on this trip because they wanted a woman who both climbed ice and had big wall experience.
At that time, not many women had done walls, and of those, not many also climbed alpine ice routes. I delightedly accepted, and set off for a month of climbing in Kyrgyzstan , which at that time was still part of the USSR and still behind the iron curtain. These two facts most likely contributed to one of the best climbing trips I ever went on, and a trip unlikely to occur today.
On our way in, we flew to Moscow; from there to Tashkent; and then on to Samarkand.
Samarkand is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular towns and locations I’ve ever visited. Alexander the great had his library there, and Genghis Khan overran it with his hordes. In about 800 AD, Samarkand was the center of civilization, mathematics, and knowledge. The silk road ran near there, and in 1987, Samarkand remained famous for its textiles.
I was there to climb, and bought no cloth (and had no money in any case), but one of the Russian climbers gave me an Uzbek cookbook. I was going through my bookshelves today and came across this gem. The book comprises 16 loose cards, each with a picture on the front and a recipe on the back.
Ugra-chuchvara, or Uzbek dumplings