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Published: November 14th 2017
TAJIKISTAN with the Tajik Outlaws Part 3.
I once had a muscular physique...girls used to watch me play tennis...said they liked my legs.
Then I met Denise and the girl followers dropped off as my new hot blonde made it clear they should..."clear off".
Our first day was at a music festival.
Years passed. I still played tennis and kept trim & taut.
When the body started giving out...the mirror became a last resort.
Attending music festivals, band gigs and dancing became our forte...as life of music heaven constantly kicked in.
There was also our love of travel...the remoter the better.
When Travel Camel invited us to Tajikistan he said as there was a Dancing Car he'd arrange a music event.
That was NOT in the printed itinerary...nor was being challenged to take my clothes off. In my culture
One of our group had recently become a father...no names but congratulations Shane who lives in Kenya.
So as you do I had to ask, "In your culture (pause) do you change your baby's nappies?"
Shane as is his way...twinkle in his eyes...avoiding the question.
In my culture
tell him but I'm only asking as I know the answer.)
"In your culture (pause) do you clean cloth nappies with your finger nails or do you just hold it under the tap?"
The rest of the group crowding around...giggling at each pregnant pause.
"In your culture (pause) do you get up when your baby is crying in the middle of the night?"
The more the gentle grilling...the louder the giggling.
Me saying, "In my culture we...do this."
And so it became the catch phrase of the trip...when someone said "In my culture"...the giggling would start before the rest of the words came out.
Simple words that bound us together. Laughter we all know...is often the best medicine. Town life
We stayed for two nights in a hotel next to the river...only hotel in the Tajik part of the trip...for a "more relaxing day where you can explore Khorog. Discover the vibrant local culture of the town and learn more about living in this part of the World" said the itinerary.
And discover we did.
Entering the narrow road in, we learnt how to deal with peak
hour traffic, Tajik style...one lane each way becomes two lanes each way. And if you are in a truck and traffic is jammed...just park your truck in the middle of the road and go about your business. No one can complain because you're not there to hear them...everyone will somehow get around...no worries about police as they can't get to you either!
Time to rest from the trots and other ailments...the best part being private bathrooms and air-conditioning to avoid the oppressive heat.
Time to dream of the open road...pulsating starry nights...and the people we'll meet. Country Life
We stayed at a homestay at the base of a mountain in Yamg...surrounded by green fields...men playing soccer nearby as the sun set over the river. The green fields laced with salt...not so green after all...the ground sodden from the river but producing salinity or so it seems. These people are poor enough without nature ganging up against them.
All poor except our host. He owned a few properties in the area and had built rooms on for tourists.
This property had six bedrooms for eleven of us...the drivers staying elsewhere. So with 3
couples and the two Bulgarian men who were friends sharing...we had two extra rooms for the two single women and one for Shane.
Yet the Irish woman persisted in refusing to share with Naddya...embarrassingly loudly...Shane insisting he sleep in the car...the Bulgarian men insisting he share with them as they had a third bed in their room...Shane insisting as he was the leader he preferred to sleep in the car.
And sleep in the car he did...much to the chagrin of all but the Irish one of us.
But even in Tajikistan...like the churning River Panj...events often repeating...have a way of turning in on themselves...to bite.
Our homestay had a communal dining room with very long table and chairs...no sitting on the floor on mats here!
After a generous but simple dinner...table cleared and removed...we seated one side in rows...surprises to follow.
Our host sits one side with a traditional stringed instrument...a young lad with a large hand drum...strumming...tapping...then the lad begins to sing.
His voice sublime...the room filling with sounds of the Tajik countryside...enter the dancers...the Yamg Dance Troupe had come to Camel's private ho-down.
Girls in white with
ribboned braids...eldest to the youngest...rock me baby...rock me all night...like a Tajik wagon wheel...just keep it rolling...smiling...twirling...you don't know how good you make us feel.
A young lad with one of the younger girls...pretending to take tea...then dancing shyly...whispers of "so cute" floating about.
But one of the performers was not so keen. Our hosts youngest grand daughter...about 5...in traditional dress...watching intently as the elder strutted their stuff...but when it was her turn...No way I'm getting out there!
A veteran of the stage entering...riding a cloth horse...86 years of abundant energy...the crowd roaring...he soaking in the applause.
T'was quite a show...then some of us joining in...Mr Zee showing why he was the coolest driver...strutting his stuff with the Dancing Car...which of course included Dave, MJ, Denise and me! Yamchun fortress and getting hot & nakked
About 10 kms from Yamg is the Yamchun Fortress overlooking a gaping gorge...and further down a wild stream tumbling down. Out of the rocks above the stream are hot springs fed by the mountain to a few buildings perched at the end of the road..
Sherali telling us he has obtained special permission for us not
to get "nakked"...all disinterested except the three Bulgarians (Naddya, Chavdar, Kalin) and me.
There were some women waiting at the end of a path so fascinated I waited with them. Men and women having 15 minute rotations in the Hot Springs I heard.
A man walks past down the steps indicating I follow...a woman at a door indicating I go around the corner...a man's face at a window beckoning me in.
I enter a changeroom with naked men in a pool below...no one I recognised...where are the two Bulgarian guys?
Two naked men sharing a towel chatting to me...others inviting I join them.
This was certainly less intimidating than one of our stops on day 2 or 3 when I walked into an outdoor limestone hot springs pool area and there were about 40 men covered in white powder...calcium carbonate I guess...just chatting or soaking...all eyes on me...quickly pulling my camera...obscuring it from sight. Definitely one of those sensational photo ops that are best left away!
But here the men were looking and inviting...all shapes, sizes and ages...so I dropped my strides and joined them...one speaking good English and translating...to our mutual delight.
We took turns standing under a pipe outlet...hot water cascading over our bods...like under a waterfall in the jungle...but here in a pool of naked men...no one embarrassed as we soaked in full sight.
I dry myself with my shirt...dress otherwise wet...goodbye to my new friends...hello to Jengish coming in...walk back into the light.
It's moments like this why I travel...sharing with the locals...rejuvenating in hot springs...hot & "nakked" ...serendipity in all its might.
It turned out there was a larger pool with more waterfalls that the men and women rotated turns that the 3 Bulgarians had been in. Chatting to Naddya my towel shirt dried before we joined the others who were climbing Yamchun Fort.
Yamchun Fort is on a finger of land with a 360 degree view over the valley and gorge. The walls were in ruins but showed it would have been a substantial strategic location of the Old Silk Road.
Later our host showed us through the museum of the famous Sufi, Kuborak-Kudam who had stayed in that room there for 40 days and 40 nights eating one dried grape a day in prayer and contemplation...me wondering where he got that
idea...our host and Dangerous Dave playing traditional guitars while we sat in there. Langar...no room in the inn again...so 5 of us gotta get out of tha.
I should explain that all of our homestays were pre-booked but in Tajikistan it is first in best dressed. So no surprise when we arrive at a two-storey dwelling...already occupied by the friendly Dutch (whose drivers I knew as Talai One and Two).
The Bulgarians in Jengish's white car had arrived first and were housed. The green Dancing Car arriving with the Germans and the Irish woman in Kudash's red car who as usual rushing in to grab the remaining rooms.
So that left Dangerous Dave & MJ, Denise & I (Mr Zee's green Dancing Car) and our esteemed leader Shane (red car)...you are not sleeping in the car again Shane...over my dead body you do...frantic calls all over but no rooms available anywhere in the area it seems.
But we are not called the Dancing Car for no reason...so we danced out of there...Shane and Sherali ending up getting us a secluded homestay on the slopes of the mountain...we insisting Shane join us...probably only did
Our Langar Homestay
We're not complaining!!!
so to make us not feel left out...but not speaking for the others I was glad we 5 Travelbloggers were together that night.
Den and I had a room with walls covered in rugs...laughed as we poured hot water from a scoop to shower with...the 5 of us on cushions around a low table for meals in an alcove in a courtyard...the sound of the wind and donkeys braying as we slipped into sleep.
And sleep well we did.
Any differing attitudes in the group miles away...to us insignificant...we in Tajik Heaven...enjoying the ride.
But like the redback spider under the toilet seat in Oz...if you ignore it is there...it may bite you.
Relax & Enjoy,
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