Amul Mohammed gestures for me to follow him. Curious, I can't resist.
We pick our way through a narrow, debris-littered lane in Jalalabad, southern Kyrgyzstan, pull open a rusty gate, and stand in the courtyard of what was once Amul's home. It is nothing, now. Scorch marks lick at collapsed walls, empty window frames, broken doors.
Only the remnants of elaborate tiled designs suggest the former grandeur of this house.
With a slow, sad movement, Amul points at the ruins around him: "Moi dom" ("my house").
The sadness is so deep, so wounded, so raw, that it threatens to break my heart. I don't know what to say. What can I say? Tears fill the eyes of this middle-aged, formerly prosperous Uzbek man.
My own tears quickly follow. I reach out, putting my hand gently on his arm, shaking my head as I gaze at the destruction.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
Amul nods. He might not understand English, but our hearts understand each other in that moment of grief.
On that battered street in Jalalabad, yesterday seems like another life. The day before, we had enjoyed a swim in Lake Toktogol, the afternoon sun hot as it beamed down on our bare backs.
Someone had erected an Olympic-size diving board on the edge of the lake, and it seemed every child in Kyrgyzstan was there. Mothers attended to small toddlers while children ran free, whooping, jumping, swimming, diving. Older guys worked up the courage to jump from the top ramp, and we watched their acrobatics while eating icecream.
In Jalalabad, no-one is smiling. Children aren't swimming, or playing football on the streets. They are busy, working to clean up the rubble of their ruined lives.
Large solemn eyes stare at us from behind breathing masks, as shovels and wheelbarrows are put to use. A friendly group of older Uzbek ladies crowd together for a photo. We point to scorched buildings, asking what they are, or were. A bank, a university, their homes. One of the ladies breaks down, and Misha cradles her in his arms. She sobs, openly.
We follow the ladies back to their home. As with Amul's, it has been razed. Only one room has survived untouched among the blackened remains: the sauna. The women have no choice but to live in what used to be their bathroom. Their few undamaged possessions are carefully laid out in the sauna: a watermelon, a few plates, a carpet.
In the courtyard, a small rose bush with three perfectly scented red roses stands untouched.
Kyrgyzstan has been plagued with violence since riots in Bishkek in April of this year.
In June, the violence made its way to southern Kyrgyzstan, where riots in Jalalabad and Osh saw several hundred people killed, with further tens of thousands of Uzbeks living in Kyrgyzstan forced to flee their homes and settle in refugee camps across the nearby border with Uzbekistan.
Not wanting to enter a war zone unnecessarily, we had made the call a few weeks earlier to skip Kyrgyzstan entirely. But now, with the violence settling to an uneasy calm, Kyrgyzstan was back in the plan.
We would ride through Southern Kyrgyzstan to get to Tajikistan - but we would ride fast, and we wouldn't stop, particularly in Osh, taking the by-pass around the city.
Somehow, heading south from Jalalabad, we miss the by-pass, and find ourselves on the road into Osh.
Like a secret we aren't supposed to discover, it is a shocking sight. For perhaps two kilometres, everything is razed. Osh has been raped, stripped, beaten, looted by her own people. Fire has swept through the area, and doors, windows, roofs are gone.
Ghosts of normality haunt the place: a sign advertising shashlik (kebabs), a billboard, a pile of watermelons. It is hard to believe that this destruction was caused by man - by hands, by fists, by matches, by angry incitement.
And then, we reach an intersection, turn left, and... there is no trace of destruction. We are back in the usual bustling chaos of a city.
We leave Osh the way we came in, and pass the same military checkpoint - one of seven we have been through that day.
Misha leads the group, while I am bringing up the rear. Suddenly, my heart stops.
The soldier on guard has advanced toward Misha, AK-47 up, butt tucked into his shoulder, barrel pointed straight at Misha.
"Slow down, Misha!" I hiss into my helmet, aghast.
Misha spreads his arms wide, as if in helpless surrender. Drawing closer, I realise that a huge grin has spread across the soldier's face and just then the man bursts out laughing at his joke.
He shakes hands with Misha, and then the rest of us, as we laugh, wave and knock fists as we pass. But the laughter is a little sour, tainted by what we have just seen.
I have been to Kosovo, seen the Serbian churches ransacked and stripped, and heard stories from Albanian Kosovars about Serbs doing the same to them.
I have been to Belfast, and seen the hate painted in murals on both sides of the peace lines. But this conflict seems different to me. It is fresh, and still smells - the acrid smell of burning.
The pain is still smeared on every face, freshly returned from refugee camps. I can't help but wonder how these people will ever forgive, ever have the courage to break the cycle.
Spending time with Amul and the other Uzbeks in Jalalabad, I feel helpless.
Staring into the eyes of a man who has just lost everything, there isn't much comfort to be offered.
But, as we slowly shook our heads and trudged back to our bikes, we said one final thing: "We will tell New Zealand. We will tell New Zealand what has happened to you."
So I am.
* To help Rob and his mates reach their fundraising target for the Living Hope charitable organisation in Vladivostok and for more information on their journey, click here.