We had a really good day today, despite some really depressing news last night. As Kai wrote, yesterday we crossed into Uzbekistan, which was probably one of the least pleasant border crossings yet, but still the hardest bit is remaining patient. However last night I happened to check my emails, the first time in a while as internet was really hard to come by in Turmenistan, and Team America had emailed warning that the Uzbek border guards had been wondering where we were as we had "missed a step", and needed to go back to get our "yellow form". As we'd left I did wonder how come we still had both copies of our customs declaration forms.
So we made the decision this morning to go back. I was in more of a mind to risk it, but Kai has become risk-averse of late. Good thing too. It was also lucky that we hadn't gone all the way to Samarqant as I had suggested as there would have been no way we would have wanted to drive back the 700 odd km to the border. (To be honest Buxoro was nicer to visit than Samarqant anyway.)
So after a few last trips to the toilet in our water-less hostel, we left at about 8:30am and made good progress, getting back to the border at about 9:30am. In contrast to the day before the border was very quiet and we got back to the customs office easily. There the two male and female guards recognised us, pretended to be cross with us, told us that we must thank the friends who notified us as we would now be able to leave the country, and sent us on our way. The guards outside were a bit annoyed when I played with their attack dog, it was so cute, but still didn't have any water.
We then made quick time back to Buxoro for a very good lunch (I opted for beef shashlik again, as it was so good last night. Kai's plov was very good too, which I was surprised at) stopping only to see if we could get some fuel from one of the very few open petrol stations which all have very long queues outside. I walked down to check that they had 95 octane "benzene" and we were waved in, past all the locals (sorry locals).
We made it to Samarqand for about 6, stopping once so that Kai could take a dip in a very grey/brown fast flowing river, which we had a job getting him out of.
Hopefully tomorrow we will make it to and through the Tajik border, stay the night and start the Pamir Highway on Monday.
Before we started this trip I was a bit concerned as Kai was always talking about two months, while my work had given me 6-7 weeks. Once we started however it was me who was suggesting we spend a bit more time in, for instance, Iran, and Kai was then getting nervous about being left behind by the rest of the ralliers. When we left Iran I was quite happy with our progress as we'd done about 6500 miles in three and a bit weeks and only had about 2000 left to go. However, one day into Turkmenistan, driving to Mary, and I realised how a bad road can turn your 800km days into 200km days and so many small countries means the border crossings start to eat up time and I began to get nervous. Since Mary the roads have been much better, hopefully they won't get too bad, else I might have to leave Kai to finish the rally on his own