Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tajik river valley to Khorog

The view from my tent this morning is of Afghanistan.  Literally, I am camped right next to the swift milky-blue river that separates Tajikistan from Afghanistan.  Fortunately the current dissuades folks from swimming, and the river serves as a pretty decent border.

Yesterday was nearly surreal as we swooped down from a series of mountain passes that separated us from a rich river valley filled with Tajik villages.

The passes were a formiddable hurdle in the first place, not only because of the height of the climbs, but also the quality of the roads.  I knew there were dirt roads on this tour, but these roads were washboarded, very rocky, sandy - not the worst you could expect, but close.  They just about reduced me to tears, as I painstakingly picked my way over in the smallest granny gear, kilometer after kilometer on my suspensionless bike, as the big Chinese trucks kicked up dust and exhaust in my face.   (Fortunately, the pavement would reappear between segments of dirt road, and overall a good majority of the road was paved.  But those steep dirt segments were hellish.)

On descending from the final pass, we were in a long river valley.  We stayed one night at a hot spring, frequented by locals (suffocatingly hot sulphur, nude bath with the local women).  The next day we passed through a number of villages, lined by the first trees we've seen in a while; or rough fences; or fields of something sneezable.  Houses were flat roofed clay houses straight out of some ancient world, or the more modern blue-roofed construction.  Women cover their heads with scarves, and many cover their faces with more scarves.  Children yell out "Hello" - sometimes from some hiding spot - and you just yell "hello" back.  Men gather in groups  around cars, and stare as you pass.  Many will wave and greet you. Cows sit alongside the road.  The road winds back and forth across the milky-blue river, majestic mountains hem in the valley on either side.

I regret not learning some Russian before this trip, to talk more substantially with all the folks we pass.

We've seen a small trickle of folks along this tourist trail.  Other (solo) bicycle tourists; a few German and Swedish motorbikers.  The secret is out; this is the place to be!

Today:  day of rest in Khorog.  Several of us happened across some kids in the park last night who wanted to play frisbee with us, so we have another frisbee date with the kids in the park this evening.  Laundry, exploring, etc.   Tomorrow, we head off into the wifi-less wilderness for several days til we reach Dushanbe.

Sent from my iPad

1 comment:

  1. Playing Frisbee with the kids sounds fun. Hope the next segment goes well!