On the drive from Ashgabat to the Darvaza Gas Crater and onwards to Konye-Urgench and the border with Uzbekistan, we stopped at a little village in the desert just off the main highway. I think it was called Yerbent, but even that I’m not entirely sure of.
It seemed like a lonely forgotten place, little more than a couple of buildings and livestock pens with some traditional yurts for storage.
And yet, the kids that lived there ran and laughed and played kind of like kids tend to do all over the world. One of the little girls was pretty shy, and except for one brief moment kept her distance.
The rest, though, ran up eagerly to ask if I’d take a photo of them. With people so reluctant to be photographed in the rest of Turkmenistan, it was a welcome surprise.
After throwing a few mean word towards the camels and snapping a few more pictures of the settlement, though, the brief visit to Yerbent was over and we drove off towards the fire on the far horizon.