Travel diary: Uzbekistan

I write better on the move, literally. I can be quiet at home, undisturbed, with a nice cup of tea on my desk, the blank page in front of me, and often nothing comes out on paper. But then, as soon as I step outside, sit on a terrace or catch a train, words, stories and characters seem to come flooding back. Travelling then boosts inspiration to the maximum and perhaps that’s why I’ve had the desire to travel ever since I was a little girl. I dreamed of taking a year off after finishing secondary school to travel and imagined myself later living around the world, a year here, three months there. I would learn to speak several languages, get to know the local customs, make friends in each country and carry them in my rucksack everywhere. I didn’t travel as I had imagined, but I didn’t stop travelling. From the age of 18, I lived in various European countries to study and work, and I travelled to others, visiting friends, hiking and, from a certain point on, mainly for work. 

Travelling for work is quite unique, there were times when I only travelled for a day or two, in the context of meetings or conferences; but I also had several trips of ten days to three weeks and these were undoubtedly the best. On the longer work trips I travelled either to work with various UNICEF or World Health Organisation offices and it was a real privilege: I always worked alongside international colleagues who were in the field or with local colleagues, I travelled around the countries, interviewed country officials and even families and children, and I always had the opportunity to experience the local culture. The first of these great trips was to Uzbekistan and it will go down in history. I had never travelled across Asia or made such a long journey, I knew little about Central Asia and I lived every moment of the experience to the full. It was a unique trip, but aren’t they all?! I have a suitcase full of stories, some of which, every time I see the international colleagues who accompanied me, we reminisce about and laugh together, without exception. I could tell you about the car journey to Bukhara, the stomach problems, being a vegetarian in a country where meat is the protagonist, the visits we made to health centres in a rural region; but what struck me most of all was the human encounter, in all its forms.

We are all part of something larger than ourselves, we can share a human connection with people no matter where they come from. We don’t need to share the same culture of language and travelling never fails to remind me that – as human beings – we are all alike. The trip to Uzbekistan cemented this belief in me: that, quite simply, we are all part of this great human family.