A little background: The protest focused on the poor economic conditions and lack of support for the farmers. Having never visited Fergana before, it's hard to assess progress but from what I have seen there and in Tashkent, Nukus and Khiva, there is marked evidence of economic development and increased prosperity from just 2 years ago.
After lunch in Tashkent we had planned to take a walk but it was pouring rain so we rested until we met up with our guide for the rest of the trip, Mirza. After a 3 hour plane ride (Russian propeller aircraft -- Illuyshin? -- and very casual reference to safety procedures, although we did get your standard airline cold cheese sandwich...) we arrived in Nukus in the chilly dark. Nukus is the provincial center of the autonomous region of Karalkalpakstan and home of the Savitsky museum. Mirza tells us that fewer than 5% of tourists visit the museum. No question it's not easy to get to but it is so worth the effort. If you Google Savitsky Collection you'll be able to get an idea. A new facility is almost ready to open that will allow more of the 5000 archived pieces to be shown.
After visiting the museum yesterday, we drove to Khiva (one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites on the Silk Road), stopping at Tepprakala and Ayuzkala desert forts, both originating from 1000-2000 BC. The ever present poplars growing along the canals were in full autumn splendor and a slightly overcast sky illuminated the subtle colors of the steppe. Arriving in Khiva at dusk was glorious: pink and golden skies contrasting the turquoise tiled minarets and warming the brown mud walls of the city and it's buildings. Once the sun goes down, it's very cold here but the rooms in our lovely small hotel have heaters and after some hot soup, I slept for 10 hours.
Today while Sue tours with Mirza, I'm meeting with vendors and staying close to the hotel since I have picked up a GI bug. As tourism grows here, a name -- like Monteczuma's Revenge -- for this affliction must be coined. Any suggestions?
It will probably be a couple of days before I write again (from Bukhara) but I'll try to post some pictures!