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Showing posts from 2010

The Victory of The Sun

Today is a day for celebration (yes, another one). Ancient Persians marked the first day after the winter solstice as the victory of the Sun over darkness. I can relate to this. BUT, apparently we slept through the lunar eclipse, a rarity when it coincides with the winter solstice.  We'll have to wait another 80+ years for the next one!! On a more pragmatic level, for us it means that from today the sun crests the mountains earlier, and heats up the valley for longer each day. Hooray! In three months, winter will be over! As yet, we haven’t seen any snow, nor had REALLY, REALLY cold days. We are told that from the 5th of January, for a period of two weeks, it will be bitterly cold. Everyone here is a walking ‘Farmers Almanac’. When one lives at one with nature, we suppose that’s just the way it is.

It’s almost two weeks now since our short four day visit to Dushanbe. Called to meetings there, we dutifully complied, took a flight (Jelte) and a ‘chopper' (Christine) and dropped …

Reality Bites

Finally, I suppose it's time to talk about the weather here. Since arriving in Khorog, we have had just one day of rain... every other day has been filled with startling blue skies and sunshine. But, as the days draw shorter, the sun struggles to show its face over the mountain-tops. Which means that most of the valley sits in the shade until 10am. So, progressively, the edges of the river have started freezing and our daily walk across the wooden suspension bridge is a little more slippery. As Jelte mentioned, two weeks ago we took a trip to Roshan, Darwaz and the Gisev valley. It was pretty cool. This last week, we took a trip to Ishkashim; it was COLD. Both of us are eternally grateful to my sister Paula for guiding us through the necessities of cold weather gear. I know that our thin California blood would not have made it thus far without our thermals and countless other layers. The only items that we have still to get good use out of are our balaclavas and we hope they will …

Another day at the office ....

Just as we are slowly settling into a routine of work-weeks and free weekends (spent on hiking through mountains or attending Pamiri weddings) it is decided that we are going on a couple of road trips to experience and check out the “tourist” product. No punishment. Another day at the office…. Picked up early in the morning by an experienced driver and our colleague Aydigul in a four wheel drive, we are soon making our way towards the city of Rushan. The road from Khorog leads north along the Afghan border and while the driver is artfully avoiding donkeys, sheep, cows, schoolchildren and goats we take in the incredible sites of the Afghan landscape on the other side of the river.  We visit several districts during this trip and local convention dictates that we meet with the local area-manager first, go over the program and then visit the sites. So, after an extensive brunch along a beach like river bank, we are off to the hamlet of Gisev where we will visit our first home-stays.  Home s…

Botanical Garden Adventure, Work and Play

As we mentioned in our last blog, we hadn't finished with our long weekend, which, on Monday Nov 8, brought us to the much touted Botanical Gardens (the second highest in the world, does anybody know where the highest are ??).   

Another cab-ride along a wild raging river brings you, on the outskirts of the city, to the bottom of a mountain (everything is at the bottom of a mountain here btw) , where we were unceremonously dropped off by the driver. We couldn't see anything which remotely looked like a garden but the signs were directing us towards the top of the mountain and, who are we to not obey, so we started making the long and steep climb. We were all alone; had expected many families and people here on a beautiful holiday afternoon but that didn't dampen our enthusiasm. After a track of 45 minutes, we ended up before a gate which looked very closed but, after further inspection, was unlocked. We carefully opened the gate (there ar…

Cross Border Markets and our First Tajik Wedding

It's Friday afternoon, 4:30 pm and a colleague mentions, by-the-way,  that Monday is a holiday as Constitution day falls on Saturday, 6th November.  A long week-end with places to go and things to see!!  To hell with a two week pile of unwashed clothes!   Here in Khorog, every Saturday morning  there is a cross-border market, which is the closest we can get to actually visiting Afghanistan.  
At 10 am Jelte, Rod and I hail a 'cab' and for the price of  just one Somoni each (the equivalent of 30c or 20p) we share a 'golf cart' - commonly known as a Chinese van - with 4 other passengers to take us to the site of the cross-border market.  When we arrive, things are just beginning to come alive.  
We wander around the few stalls of fruits and clothes and odds and ends. Jelte and Rod sit down to breakfast of 'choi' and bread with Halva. Christine is too busy watching one of the stall owners cook 'pilav' on an open fire.   
Within half an hour the mark…

The Road Along Afghanistan

As many of you have pointed out we are situated right at the border with Afghanistan and today, the first day after our successful move (we now live in a very nice little Pamiri house along the river), we decided to take a look for ourselves.

Like so many places we have traveled to, the journey often starts from what the locals call  'the station' or ‘the terminal’; here, at the edge of town, you’ll find the minibuses, jeeps, Toyota Landcruisers and Chinese made vans of vague nature, which offer their services to all places on the Tajik map. Dushanbe, the capital, is the most popular destination (16 hours for 600 km). But we were less ambitious today and opted for Garm-Chasma 47 km away (“Hot Springs”). After some old fashioned haggling, we soon made our way to the South along the Afghan/Tajik border, which is formed by a sometimes thundering, sometimes meandering ice blue river (the Panj). As we were progressing over asphalt (mostly), we could see an unpaved trail on the other …

Khorog and the trip to it, some pictures ...