So Khiva was originally full of Iranian people speaking an Iranian language. But then the Turks, those darn Turks, took over power in the 10th century. After the Turks got tired of all the mean people in the restaurants and all the French tourists, the Astrakhans had their turn. Then the Astrakhans went back to their preferred job of imprisoning wizards and Khiva fell into the hands of Russians, under General Konstantin von Kaufman in the 1800s. Russia was soooo nice though and let Khiva act in a quasi-independent manner, kind of like they are doing to the USA right now! I guess this is why you can get by speaking Russian in Khiva, although no that's not it because it's pretty regular all over Uzbekistan so maybe it filtered in otherwise; I'm sure they took over at various points in time and space. Anyway Khiva was part of the USSR in the 1900s and then it became part of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic and now it is part of Uzbekistan and yes I am getting all of this from wikipedia but my husband donates to it (unlike the rest of us who see that message 'we just need a dollar from you and then you can keep having access to all this knowledge that you regularly use just give us a dollar' and we just click that black 'x' on the box and are like byeeees am I right up top) so I think it's okay.
Right on the other side of the gate was our guest house, the Qosha Darvoza which no I don't know how to say either but I do love u-less q words. I highly recommend this guest house for Khiva visits because the location is perfect - right outside that (north?) gate of the old town so it's very close but not inside the ancient walls, which is important because inside is like an immediate uncomfortable trip back in time and you don't want to sleep in that kind of place. Also who knows if there's electricity? So the Qosha cabana is a great choice. The man working there was also one of three very kind Uzbeks we met during our time in the country so you will want to meet him because that's like a unicorn in these parts. Also it had such a cool desert-chic vibe.
A few steps beyond the gate, we ran into construction on one of the major buildings, because we were in Uzbekistan and that's what we learned to expect all over this country so why should this tiny protected town be any different.
After this point, the Ichan Kala land becomes a complete maze. It is full of winding little alleys and no street signs (they aren't streets!) and buildings that all look the same, lather rinse repeat, so following a path or keeping hold of any sort of intention with your wandering is impossible. And filling all these alleys are children who have learned how to say 'WHERE YOU FROM' in the languages of the main groups of tourists who come here - English, French, German - and they will chase you and harass you and shout WHERE YOU FROM as long as they want. Kind of annoying! And they see how lost you look because who can follow directions in this sort of confusing sandy maze! So they will chase you and ask you if they can help you and ask for American money and we were like 'we don't have any American money we are in Uzbekistan!' and they won't care and will just keep repeatedly asking you for it and chasing you. If you persevere, you'll make it through the shady part of the alleys and into the opening up of the tourist center.
Everything else was bullshit though, and we'd have even more rudeness in our next stop. We were so sick of this country and how badly it wanted to screw with it, apparently, so we were kind of dragging ourselves from place to place and going through the motions. What a shame to feel this way when traveling in such far away, seemingly cool places! Well not everything can be a winner, and at least we saw some nice mosques and minarets and other old things.