driver offered to change with us for 175 Soms = US$1 (This is the black market
rate; Official rate is 90 soms = US$1). Although we had agreed on US$1 for the
ride to Hotel Samarkand from the bus station, this chap later demanded
Rafiewa (Address: Iskandarow Str., 38, 703012 Samarkand, Tel:  352092,
353823, 354527) who runs a homestay at her home near Guri Amir (Tamerlane, or
more politically correct, Timur’s Mausoleum). Yes, she had vacancies and her
sister, Aziza, brought us to the place – a traditional house with a
vine-sheltered courtyard (US$8 per person, plus US$3 for an enormous dinner).
We were to spend the next few nights in a shed in the garden. Here we were
surrounded by apple trees, mulberry trees, pomegranate trees, etc, as well as an
inquisitive cat and some chickens. Best of all was this very friendly family
who was always providing us with lots of tea and snacks, as well as a lively
exchange of views and ideas. We have learned so much about this beautiful
country and her people as well as their aspirations, after a few late night
conversations with Aziza and a few of her other English-speaking relatives…"