What if the Government, or Council, or Community Council, owned and ran everything, the buildings, the parks, the amenities, the services, the hot water for your house, and heating, and then they ran out of money. And they had no money to be able to provide any of these services for the next 23 years? What if?
Well that's what has happened here in Central Asia. In 1991, the Soviet nation failed, and all the central Asian countries were left to fend for themselves, without financial backing. So things began to fall apart. The first to get the sack were the gardeners, (a luxury item). As a result, no lawns have been trimmed, trees pruned, tracks mended, new plantings done. None of the 1001 jobs we take for granted have been done for over 20 years. What were once lovely parklike surroundings, have reverted to jungles, brambles, rubbish tips, flood plains and swamps. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Throughout the city are huge ugly above head height water pipes. These once transported hot water to all the houses, from a centralized city boiler, heating houses, and providing hot water for baths. Doesn't work anymore, but the pipes are still there.
Once all the city drainage worked really well, but after 20 years of no maintenance, there are broken pipes, cave ins, blockages. Most locals, even in the heart of the city, get there water from open drains, and the river. that runs through the city.
Playgrounds, another luxury. Left abandoned, surrounded in weeds, amongst the "forest" that was once a lovely groomed park.
Road surfaces on main roads are good, but side streets have only a long past memory of being sealed. Only services that have been taken over by private entities work, and you only get them if you PAY BIG.
Yep, that's Central Asia. And we are constantly asked....."Do you like Osh?"
Yesterday I met Matthew and Mark. They've just arrived from cycling the Pamirs. Matthew writes a blog..."The Artic Cyclist". Juliet has been following his blog for some months, as he has been cycling almost exactly my route, but in reverse. She has decided that the Croatian Coast is the next place she will join me, based on Matthews reports. (Cycle touring is a very small world, in a very big world).
So I've done all my chores here in Osh. And I'm itching to hit the road. I could stay and try to watch the ABs vs Samoa.......but I have an adventure on the horizon.....so I'm heading out tomorrow. Wendy DeeDee, was hoping to join me......but she's a no show......so I'm alone. It's going to take about 4 or 5 weeks to get to Dunshabe, the capital of Tajikistan, and there isn't much but mountains between here and there. Mostly no internet. No phone coverage. So you'll have to hang out for a while to hear of my adventures. Believe me. I will be having some. Just to wet your appetite, I've borrowed some of Matthews and Marks photos.
Be safe. Be happy. Catch you soon. Please look after my loved ones for me.