Ok. I got it. I need to go for a run earlier than 7 am. I'm fully awake before sunrise (as I've been throughout the night) and right before six, I'm ready to go. I contemplate whether I should dress like a lady. I decide against it. Nobody can possibly jog in Ashgabat wearing a long-sleeve shirt, so I wear a tank-top today because I'm a rebel like that. I cross the highway, plug in my earbuds, look for my most incandescent salsa songs and start to run. For some reason there seem to be more people out today than yesterday and it is painfully obvious that running is not a Turkmen thing, especially when the one running like hell, going nowhere, is a dark-skin Latina, in tight lycra capris, plugged to her iPod, wearing a tank-top that reveals a gigantic tattoo on her left upper-arm. In my haste to be comfy for my run, I forgot all about the tattoo. But, no worries. Every passerby is there to remind me that I look odd, or stupid, or tacky. It's hard to tell. A few of them decide to stop all together and simply stare at the oddity: a tattoed, unchaperoned woman, running in circles.
The sunrise, is spectacular from the Horses Park. The sun seems to peek through the cloudless sky to burn the buildings in the background, and the horses I have to admit, look simply majestic. I run up and down the stairs, around the fountains in each corner of the park; I run along a canopied trail that leads to somewhere presidential because it's blocked by a KGB-wannabe car with no driver, past the sleeping watchmen who, again I don't photograph, past the cleaning ladies already sweeping the grounds with their miniscule brooms, past some uniformed guards who blow their mean whistles as I jog by, past the fragrant pots of jazmine...So close to Afghanistan, I think. So close to death, to destruction, to sadness. So close to it all, yet so safe. I feel safe, so I blast "Herr Mannelig" a song by In Extremo, a German medieval punk band and make another round.