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Published: June 26th 2017
Geo: 38, 72.22
Wednesday 13th July
Time Check 0600hrs Location: .......Rushan
Homestay! We are setting into as lovely little rustic bungalow surrounded by beautiful flowers and fruit trees. Our little abode has three rooms, large dining area, bathroom and separate wc which will be "tested" to destruction. On the sleeping front there is the "ladies dorm".....a double for the two men and our little double (single). Cathy will sleep one way and me the other........
Sitting in the lounge round a low table bedecked in a brightly coloured plastic Arabic patterned table cloth we discuss the various regional differences in our respective Countries. Bavaria v The Prussians etc .......don't mention the war though......we have discovered that sausages are the main difference ....The "Sausage Equator" in Germany is the the Danube where the white and inferior Franconia Bratwurst is a feeble version of the manly "Munchen Baloney" ......the Lancashire Yorkshire divide heralds a different sausage technology in the UK........all good stuff as we wait anxiously for beer to arrive from the owners brother. When it does........ there is much excitement as we intently inspect a selection of Russian brews and a strange "Halal" ale in a large plastic bottle......which tastes sweet but is
"fundamentally" beer.......boom boom!
"Fussy Pertush" is getting anxious about hygiene as the wreckage of several flies lie mashed on the dining room table after a "cull" earlier in the afternoon. To be frank, the Group has settled down and getting on reasonably well although I can sense it would not take much to knock one or two off their perch.
We are here for two nights and the "highlight" is a 14km trek into the snow capped mountains that surround us. Bedroom report: small..... very small and hot with a couple of resident blow flies who resist several attempts to be "shot down". I eventually manage to smother one with a tee shirt but then take pity on it as I hear feeble little buzzing sounds and release it only for it to settle on Sydney who by this time is looking distinctly irritated..........a bed takes up three quarters of the space and is billed as a "double" but in reality is a large single that has a pronounced sag in the middle.
After a repast of goat and potato soup (the staple diet) the talk at dinner dwindled and we beat a retreat at about 2030. It
was a restless night spent avoiding each other's feet. The odd mosquito buzzed us whilst we tried to get some rest!
Dawn to be frank was a blessed relief! I was up at 0500 and was the first of 12 people to use the slightly "Heath Robinson" facilities. Desperate for coffee but fearful of blowing the electrics with my travel kettle I sneakily unplugged a conveniently located washing machine nearby and rammed in my convertor plug.....usually in these sorts of areas the supply is only 110v and a kettle takes about 30 mins to boil! Thankfully fizzing noises were soon coming from the device and we are now sipping away on the little verandah!
A group of about 6 French cyclists suddenly arrive after a 23 hour drive from Dushanbe and with lots of "Bon Jours" and a quick chat about Brexit that start piling into the single bathroom.....this is going to be interesting me thinks as they also are staying in out three roomed abode........!
It is now 0700hrs and the "Group" is stirring. Various "swotting" noises are emanating from the ladies dorm and one by one they emerge 'poker faced'...........some looking like they have just done several
rounds with Frank Bruno....... the odd flip flopped local randomly appears from the surrounding village.......donkeys roar and other livestock join in the cacophony.
Today is our our BIG WALK DAY! We set off at about 0900hrs for a short 40 minute drive to The Bartang Valley. Row upon row of vast gravel scree slopes towered menacingly to the left of the narrow gravel track and to our near right a raging torrent crashed and foamed. Huge craggy striated craggy cliff faces are dramatically depicted against the crystal clear blue skies and in the distance we could make out huge 5000m snow capped mountains.....these heralding the start of a range of mountains into which our journey had only just began.
The walk was billed as "gentle". We set off at 1000hrs negotiating a sturdy well constructed 300m wooden bridge that swayed and bounced above the fast flowing river only feet below us. Our mission to walk some 8km to a remote village at the head of the the Geiser Valley and at elevation of 2,500m was home to about 5 families who were subsistence farmers. No electricity.....no TV......just the themselves and the harsh but staggering beautiful environment.
a small but vigorous tributary of the main river as we picked our way over lose rock interspersed with wild Lavender and other vivid pink iridescent flowers. In the bright morning sun one could mistake this as a scene from the Sound of Music. We merrily joked to one another about the easy of the walk. Little did we know what was to come.
The temperature was steadily climbing and at only 1030 the ambient temperature was in the early 30's...........we paused for photos and swigs of water.
Suddenly this tranquil Alpine setting changed into a far more rugged and hostile environment as we turned right up another valley clambering through the glacial debris. We then started to climbing....much complaining noises from the "IKY THUMP" brigade.........."Immmmmm NOOOOT APPY.........PIS$@D OFF I AMM.........we clamber on for another 2 hours.....puffing and blowing.
We eventually arrive and collapse into a small hut for lunch......hard boiled eggs and tinned sardines all washed down with Chinese Tea! We are now at 2,500m and feel slightly light headed. In the next week we will be sleeping at nearly 4,000m!
Refreshed we make our descent clattering over rocks and make it safely back tired but richer for the challenge.....
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