Gathering white mulberries is fun for all the family, even the little ones, in the village of Sentyab, 30km from Aydarkul Lake. Local farmers, trying to diversify as small-scale farming becomes uneconomic, have made their village into a successful eco-destination for foreign visitors.
Uzbekistan – Been There

Granny’s worries are the same everywhere

Photo by Kieran Meeke

Uzbekistan – Been There Granny’s worries are the same everywhere

In the pretty village of Sentyab, geography teacher Shodiboi Boboev owns a guesthouse, run by his wife Mutabar, and they welcome me warmly into their home.

Kieran Meeke
Kieran Meeke Travel Writer

In the garden, shaded by walnut trees, we eat meals of local produce, drink tea and vodka, and try to converse in a mix of English, Russian and hand gestures. I help gather mulberries off a tree, holding one end of a bedsheet while berries cascade around my head, then watch bread being made in a searing hot tandyr oven.

I go for a country walk, seeing village boys trot by on their donkeys, girls peep shyly around doorways. An old woman in a small field tells me at length about her worries. “My son is working in Moscow. I have not seen him for two years,” she says. “I do not know when he will be back. He sends me money when he can but Moscow is expensive and Uzbekistan is far away. There is no work here for young people.”

As she talks, she picks insects off her crops and puts them into a glass jar, swirling them in tobacco juice to kill them. Working beside her, his pretty young wife cries discreetly when she hears her husband’s name mentioned. “They have no children yet,” says the mother.

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