It’s Election Day in Uzbekistan and everybody seems pretty chill about it. The previous presidential election was held in 2016, following the death of President Islam Karimov who was a controversial figure and ruled the country under a tight fist for 26 years. Today representatives from five political parties are on the ballot even though it is widely understood that this is more of a formality – like a theatre performance – and the incumbent, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, will prevail by a landslide. As a new friend who grew up in Bukhara told us: “At least we know that guy…the others, we don’t really have any idea who they are.”
Although we pass by a few–very calm–polling places (and were were mistaken a couple of times for Legal Observers!), we spend most most of the day checking out the Jewish Cemetery, the wacky amusement park, a dude-dominated avian lane (birds for fightin’ and birds for singin’), and the big bazaar where a nice little pile of evil-eye deflecting herbs will set you back about a buck. That got my vote!