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Showing posts from October, 2010

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 ...

 

Arrival...

Finally arrived in Khorog, a beautiful little mountain community in the Pamir region. Apologies for the long delay in reporting. Telecommunication is a challenge in this part of the world with limited access to adaequate phone and internet-connections. So here's a quick and dirty update on our last 10 days.
We had to wait in Dushanbe for three long days to catch our flight to Khorog; this flight (in an old Russian Antolov plane) only departs when the weather on the route is clear and if there are enough passengers to fill it. Last Saturday, all conditions were met and we boarded with high expectations. Forget security announcements, safety belts or turned off cell phones. These pilots have other fish to fry !
The flight goes through amazing mountain areas, over high snow covered tops and through narrow canyons but the sights are spectacular and rewarding; we never had such cool (literally!) flight in our lives ! Excited to finally arrive in Khorog, the place where we will be stayi…

Dongles, Trotters and Opera

Ten days into our arrival and we're finding our way around this fascinating part of the world.  We're still in Dushanbe, waiting for permits to allow us into the GBAO (Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast); our final destination is Khorogh, in the Pamirs.  The town nestles between the mountains of Tajikistan and Afghanistan and is the Oblast's capital.  Twenty-eight thousand people, predominantly Ismaili Muslims, live here.    From Dushanbe,  Khorogh can be reached by either road (497 km) or small aircraft if the weather permits.      So, now we have completed our 10 day In Country Training and are ready and raring to start work as Tourism Advisors to the MSDSP (Mountain Societies Development Services Programme)....... Still in a holding pattern: gives us time to explore Dushanbe and its attractions.  Saturday, one of our co-volunteers  got us tickets to the Dushanbe Opera to attend the last performance of Verdi's 'Aida'. Student Tickets cost us 5 Somoni (US$ 1) e…

Salumalek

Our first days here in Tajikistan have gone by incredibly fast. Flying in from Frankfurt via the very modern International Airport of Istanbul, pretty painless in spite of our winter outfits. Dressed in several winter layers (we are talking summer temperatures here in Dushanbe) to avoid overcharges on our 25 kilo luggage allowance, we must have looked like the illustrious Michelin man (and woman) preparing for your winter tires. Arrival at Dushanbe Airport caused little to no problems although an arrival at 3 AM, of course, has its challenges. Usual delay at immigration to convert our letters of introduction to visas, after which we were picked up by one of the very nice employees of the local VSO office here and got our first (day-break) impression of the city. Wide boulevards, street decorations that if we didn’t know better,  appear to be very early Christmas lights and a lot of people sweeping leaves. We are staying in the VSO office in a big guestroom with a kitchen, private bath…

A Volunteer and the FBI

Some of you might have heard of Christine's troubles with the FBI (a friend of Jelte thought that gave her a lot of extra credit). Signing up for a volunteer job involves filling out a lot of forms; one of those is a criminal record check, which after 9/11, in the USA, is being handled by the FBI. We were warned about their bureaucracy but didn't expect that they couldn't read Christine's fingerprints which we heard a week before our intended day of departure to Dushanbe.

A frantic couple of days followed with Christine re-issuing her fingerprints (three sets to be on the safe side), follow up calls from England and Holland to chase the FBI,  all in the hope that we would make our scheduled departure from Frankfurt on Sunday Oct 2. We almost made it (one UPS delivery too late) but are happy to report that we are getting out of Europe on Wednesday October 6, arrival in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on 3.20 AM local time October 7.  A huge THANK YOU  to 'Monica' at the F…