It has been a cold December in Uzbekistan and like many places in Europe, we are suffering from a shortage of natural gas. This has resulted in lukewarm showers, low flames on stove tops, and people resorting to portable heaters or AC units to heat their homes. Some apartment blocks and homes are affected differently, depending on the home and neighborhood. Luckily, we have warm showers, not hot like before, but enough to feel comfortable. Some of our floors heat as normal and in other rooms, we have no heat at all. On our way to the mountains on Saturday, we noticed long lines of cars waiting for the natural gas stations to open. Many cars in Tashkent converted from gasoline to natural gas because it is cheaper.
Why the shortage of natural gas? I think natural gas is subsidized here and a portion of the natural gas Uzbekistan produces is sold abroad. There has not been enough development of new gas fields in the country. Finally, the country’s economy is growing so fast that supply cannot keep up with demand with more cars on the road, more apartments being built, etc. I see the government has made a deal to purchase more natural gas from Turkmenistan to alleviate the shortages. The unusually low temperatures have not helped the situation and I see that it will warm up a bit over the next week.
The good thing about the cold winter is an early start to the ski season. We had several days of snow last week, one resulting in a rare snow day on Friday. Oliver and I took advantage of the white winter and had an invigorating day of skiing at the Amirsoy Resort. It is relatively inexpensive to ski here. The rental equipment of skis, poles, boots, and helmets for two people costs $28. I reached a milestone and was granted a “pensioner” rate of $18 for a full-day ski pass while my son was charged$26.5o as an adult. That is a pretty good day for $75 for two for a full day of skiing. If you include the $13 parking fee and lunch, it is around a $100 day. I think it is money well spent for a day being outdoors and active with my son!
I am just thankful that as a “pensioner” (age 55+) I can still ski. I was working on leaning forward on my skis and it really did help me control myself. I was able to go on even the steepest and narrowest run (Bravo) without trouble. My favorite run in Tango because it is wide, and long, has a couple of steeper parts and connects back to the mid-point of the gondola. I couldn’t wear the goggles because it was too dark for my eyesight in the shade covered parts of the mountain. Several of the intermediate runs below the mid-point of the gondola were closed. Fortunately, there were not a lot of people at the resort so there were no wait times. The cold weather made for crisp snow and especially in the morning, the snowboarders had not plowed up the snow.