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 bathroom and a garden where we have our morning coffees and breakfast. Weather here b.t.w., is beautiful; 80 F dry and sunny so perfect for long walks to explore the city when there is time.
From day one, we have been occupied with training-courses, language lessons and essentials such as getting permits and cell phones and dongles but the pace is relaxed enough after three months of US stress and the team and the other volunteers here are great so it’s very easy to get settled in. A lot of ‘welcomes’ and introductions here so far. Already, we have had a welcome lunch at the famous Dushanbe Tea house and a dinner at the Country Director’s home, with the most incredible vegetarian banquet (thank you Tom), where some of us practiced our karaoke skills. And now it’s back to language lessons again.
The people here are really very kind and hospitable and leave you alone; there are a lot of international help workers here so we don’t stand out and with our first words of Pamiri and the international language of football, we have many pleasant encounters.
Some of the challenges volunteers face on a day-to-day level: washing clothes by hand, no espresso coffee every morning, ‘interesting’ bed linen and towels, avoiding the traffic police (!), barking dogs – so what have we done to our pets in the West? Cut their vocal chords?
So, for now, it’s back to the language lessons (we are learning the local dialect Shugni) of the Pamirs, where we will be working.
Qulug bishar! gai pass; thank you very much (and) Good bye