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Published: July 25th 2016
July 16 - Pamir Highway trip Day 5 - Jizeu valley to Khorog
Today was an early day for all. We wanted to get to the next town as early as possible, because it is Saturday, and on Saturday mornings there is a special Afghan market where people from Afghanistan are allowed to cross the border into one special area for trade. Originally the plan was to go further south to a similar market that is more in a no-man's-land (you even need your passport for it), but it has been closed for a year and a half now. Too bad. But to make out plan work today, we had to get up at 4:30am and start hiking at 5am. The woman running the homestay had the best English of all so far, and she wanted to get up to make us breakfast before we left. We said no, but asked her for some bread and boiled eggs to take with us. That was plenty.
We started hiking at 4:59am (!) and we kept a really quick pace, because we told our driver to meet us at 7am. It was quite hard for me to keep up at times,
even though we were going downhill for the majority of the walk. But we did make it at 7:00, so that was a pleasant surprise. Another surprise was that it was a third driver and crappier van. Our van is not fixed yet.
The new driver had to drive very slowly, because of his car, and we worried we would miss the market. But we made it there by 9:30am and it was actually quite a small market. We walked around, took some pictures, Gio and Tommy bought a couple of things, and then we were done by 10am or so. Our driver was planning to kick us out at the market with all of our stuff, but we told him no, and he spoke to Mirzo to work it out.
After the market, this third driver took us to the Khorog market, where we changed to a fourth car and driver. So weird. He took us to the Pamir lodge, like an enormous but not so nice homestay, more like a hostel. I'm sharing a room with Anna. Once I got settled, I washed my dirty clothes - boy were they dirty - and took a shower.
Gio let me borrow her shampoo, as my hair has been super dry. It seems to have helped a little. Later Anna and I walked downtown, looking for food that she can cook for dinner. As a vegetarian, she has not had the easiest time here. For me, the food is so cheap that I'm happy to let someone else cook. This place isn't the typical homestay, and there is no dinner.
In town, we went to the park and then tourist info there (a rarity on this trip) to get some more ideas for our trip. There was a pool that kids and men were swimming in. I suppose women couldn't really go, since it is conservative and bathing suits aren't really a thing for women here. Next we headed to the market and I ate a somsa and an ice cream. Anna did her shopping and then we started the long, hot walk back. I used the time to catch up on the blog a bit and took another quick shower to rinse off the sweat from the walk. There is internet here, but only for a few hours in the morning and evening, and the connection
is quite useless, unless I sit under the windows of the house where the owners live. So that is where I spent some time this evening.
Around 7:30pm, I sat with my friends and met their Austrian friends who were also staying here. We discussed some of the information we found today in the tourist office and then headed to dinner. There is a restaurant not too far, but when we opened the door, it was obviously a special Saturday night event happening, with the place full of women dancing. We started to move on, and the next restaurant we saw was at least a ten minute walk down the road. It had very loud music coming from it, and I thought it might be a wedding. But we looked inside, and all of a sudden we were ushered in and yes, it was a big family party. We later learned it was a welcoming party for the birth of a child. He was three months old, and I think they flew in from Canada for this event. They sat us down at a table where people had eaten dinner, but that was still overflowing with food. They brought
us plates and utensils and cups and more food. So, we found dinner and became the main attraction. I was so not dressed for an event of any size, and this was not small. They soon came to collect us and have us dance with them. Of course we did. It was fun, even though I felt a little silly. After the dancing, we rushed back to the table to eat a little more, while everyone cleared out. It was obviously the last dance. I thanked the woman who's baby the party was for, and we left.
This is the kind of thing I mean about people being so nice here. I can't imagine that such a thing would happen back home. You don't let some dirty travelers from the street into your wedding or family events. But here, they do. They are kind and generous, and this is what I want my friends and family at home to know. People are often scared of Muslims, and of people and places they don't know. There are many bad things happening in the world right now. Just today I heard about the attack in Nice a couple days ago. So
awful. But it's also important to remember that the people who do these things do not represent the majority of their countrymen. It's like thinking the KKK or the Westboro Baptist Church represented all Christians. I would say the average person in Central Asia is far more generous, in many ways, than people from home. And I think we forget that we also have bad people who are not Muslim doing bad things at home.
Take home message - the people here are so nice.
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