Last Saturday we went to the Botanical Gardens. I wanted to go to Cairo's gardens, Baku's gardens, and even Tblisi's gardens, but I've never made it to any of them. But now we've made it to Dushanbe's botanical gardens and actually, they were quite nice.
The north part of the gardens is fairly well-groomed with some lovely wood pavilions, which Brandon and I appreciated. The children tolerated the walking for awhile but quickly grew bored of yet another wood pavilion or pretty tree. However, they perked up when we came to a long line of tubular steel exercise equipment. Looks like a playground to me!
I enjoyed the wild, forest-like nature of the southern part of the gardens. They had been planted quite some time ago and lots of underbrush and random trees have grown up over the years. After living in two cities that don't have enough rainfall to support anything that isn't watered, it was wonderfully refreshing to find underbrush and grass growing on its very own. The entrance fee for our whole family added up to $1.20, so I imagine we'll become quite familiar with the gardens over the next few years.
Last Saturday we went hiking in the foothills behind our permanent house. If you follow the roads up the hill, eventually they peter out and the real fun can begin.
They have a nice view over Dushanbe (mmm! Smell that air quality!) and are, apparently, all public land. They appear to have been terraformed and planted with trees - probably to control erosion.
We got lots and lots and lots of puzzled looks from the locals living up on the hillsides - after all what white (really, really white) people go and slog around in the mud for fun. We do! Because, if you haven't figured it out yet, we're crazy!
Eleanor is non-plussed.
We stopped for a picnic, because it's not hiking if there's not a picnic at the top. It's the only way we can get the children to agree (not that their agreement is necessary, but it helps to curb [some of] the whining). I have big plans for those snow-covered mountains in the background. The children are going to really love that.
As we were hiking, I informed them that this was effectively our backyard. Our house (sadly) has a mostly paved courtyard so in order to get some exercise we're going to be doing a lot of wandering over the next two years. At least it's close!
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