It wasn’t you, it was me.
Another time, another place, things could have been different.
Okay, I guess not another place since you have kind of been where you are for a few hundred years. Maybe even a few thousand years. But you get my drift.
I had high hopes for us. I pictured sunrises over your old city walls and moonlit strolls through quiet streets (thanks Lonely Planet for that vision).
Instead, I found myself staring at the entrance of yet another madrassah with turquoise and royal blue tiling, trying to coax myself to enter.
I found myself climbing up the watchtower of the Ark, surveying my surroundings and just thinking, “wow, everything is really, really…brown.”
I found myself wanting nothing more than to return to the air-conditioned comfort of my hotel, watch the end of the Olympics and chat with friends on Facebook.
It could have been different. I could have visited you before I marveled at Bibi Khanum in Samarkand and delved into a 16th century madrassah in Bukhara. I could have explored you before I saw all those mosques, madrassahs and mausoleums in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Before they all just started to look the same.
I could have stopped by before ten days of scorching heat and dusty drives through the desert in Turkmenistan completely wore me out.
So Khiva, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I didn’t do much more than enjoy some plov and shashlik. And haggle over a souvenir. And take a few pictures, 75% of which were of the same unfinished minaret from different angles.
Khiva, I know you deserved better. You were once the capital of a powerful khanate that lasted for like 400 years. You were a major center of Islam, with over 90 mosques and 60 madrassahs. Some even say you were founded by a son of Noah over 2,500 years ago (archaeologists disagree).
I didn’t give you a chance and I regret that.
I’ll try to make it up to you.