The BCCE was packed to the beams with people interested in hearing about Valerie Myntti’s four-month excursion along the Silk Road. She came equipped with maps of the region, excellent and vivid photographs, as well as compelling stories of her adventure from Istanbul to Mongolia. Traveling with the Dragoman travel company, Valerie shared her tales of traveling with a few guides, always including a local guide from the region where they were, and the company of a dozen or so other travelers. There were six people who stayed for the entire trip with Valerie.
Her adventure involved visiting many Unesco world heritage sites, and her detailed descriptions of each region (the people, the culture, the politics, the challenges and beauty) were peppered with relevant historical context and present-day realities. The Dragoman travelers spent 50% of their time bush camping and 50% of the time staying in local hotels. Most locations had no local tourist infrastructure, and families were approved by the state to invite people into their homes to stay during their journeys.
The entire trip ranged through Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Ukbekistan, Kyrgystan, China, and Mongolia. She shared the scope of her expedition for the first half of the presentation, then showed a brilliant slide show with folk music from each region of her journey. Maria Sommerville worked with Valerie to consolidate over 4000 photos into a stunning visual presentation. After the slide show, Valerie stayed to answer questions from the crowd and thank everyone for attending.