In the beginning we were just the three of us, a Slovak, a German and a Portuguese. Gazing into the horizon and the uniqueness of Dolina Zamkov (Valley of Castles). Spring was all around us and the quietness of the Canyon was mind-blowing.
I was extremely happy to share such place with my friends, I knew the landmark itself would become more complete and filled with meaning once you experience it with others. Generosity and friendship are powerful multipliers.
In a second, literally out of the blue, first one, followed by two, three and an all bunch of colourful hats, scarfs, toddlers, elderly and a legion of picnic bags and pans surrounded us by surprise.
I knew Kazakh families were big but this one was gigantic.
At first I could not hide the shock and frustration for such an abrupt change of scenery but shortly after I understood that something else was going on.
Without being able to communicate much more than a handful of awkward smiles and head nodding, the family encircled us and start setting up a banquet with a canyon view, and without asking we were part of it.
No matter what language, race, religion or belief, generosity and friendship are indeed powerful multipliers, we just tend to believe that there is norm to follow before engaging with outsiders.
From ancient times, one of the most distinctive feature of the Kazakh people was the hospitality, on that day I could reassure that. Looking at this picture always puts a tremendous smile in my heart, we are after all, a planet of immigrants.
The Charyn Canyon is situated in Kazakhstan, 200 kilometres east of Almaty, close to the Chinese border. The canyon is 80 or 90 kilometres in length. It is within the Charyn River valley and is part of the Charyn National Park,
The geological formation of the canyon is of sedimentary red sandstone which have been subject to the “atmogenic process” of water and wind erosion resulting in “weird and colourful formations” in the form of sculptures.