Sulayman rises from an old city on the Silk Road and an arid expanse of farmland, and looks something like Horsetooth. Still, its five hills are made of quartz and lime, not sandstone, and I feel conspicuous in my shorts and trainers. This a place of pilgrimage, where colored prayers dangle from bushes and women in veils slide down a certain rock said to impart fertility.RBM's last dispatch from Osh can be found elsewhere on this blog and over at NPR.org.
Get on with it. What’s a foreigner doing in a cemetery?
The sun has nearly set but I want to find a running trail I can trust -- and get a look at the summit. I don’t know how to get there, but the path that snakes around some military barracks, on the west side, seems less taken. I work myself higher and higher along switchbacks, feeling my heartbeat climb into familiar territory. Burs rake at my legs as I lose the path, but the exertion is exquisite (and hard to find on the campus where I teach). I pass boulders covered in Kyrgyz and Russian graffiti, some with blue numerals that signal older markings -- hunters and the hunted, most predating the Qur'an. Finally, the path enters a draw and shoots straight up, toward a plateau where the sky seems brightest.