Tajikistan

The Watermelon Man

Dushanbe

Republic of Tajikistan

September 5, 2019

Hello,

In a previous letter I declared that “The Tajiks are the most kind and generous people I have ever met.”  I stand by my description.  But I neglected to provide any examples.

In another letter, I asked you to “Remind me to tell you the story about the Watermelon Man.”

So please allow me to explain.

My very first experience in Tajikistan is unique:

The Folks of Dushanbe

Bookends: Summerfest and Book Fair 

Dushanbe

Republic of Tajikistan

September 4, 2019

 

On my first day in Dushanbe, my Tajik friend Nigora invited me to join her to celebrate Summerfest.

On my last day in Dushanbe, a Kurdish man, a fellow guest at my hotel, invited me to accompany him to the Annual International Book Exhibition at the National Library.

Goodbye to Panj and Pamirs

Khorugh City

Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region

Republic of Tajikistan

August 27, 2019

Good-bye to the Panj River

The route of the Panj River is remarkable.  And invigorating.

Five tributaries crash down the mountains to join the Panj.  At 1125 km (699 miles) long, it forms the major border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. 

The Panj completes its rambunctious journey in Termez, Uzbekistan where it joins the Amu Darya, an important river in Central Asia.  In ancient times the Amu was called by its Latin name, the Oxus.

Alichur and Highway M41

Sher's House Inn

Alichur Village

Murghhob District (pop 1788)

Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province

Republic of Tajikistan

August 25, 2019

Sunrise

Alichur means “Ali's curse” and is reputed to have been spoken by the prophet's son-in-law Ali on a journey through the area, on account of the harsh climate and penetrating winds.  (Above the tree line at 3991m or 2.5 mi.)

Despite the climate and the wind, I wake up early in this tiny village and walk across the plateau.  I look forward to a cloudless sky and the morning sun as it illuminates the surrounding mountains.

Bulunkul

Bulunkul

Tajikistan

August 24, 2019

“You must be very rich,” the visitors from Saudi Arabia remarked.  “You have rivers!”

So reported Bakhtiyar, my driver in Tajikistan who quoted his Saudi clients from last year.

Just today, on my own journey, I climb from the fertile valleys and stop at the Pamir River, one of the five rivers that flow into the Panj River, a major tributary of the Amu Darya (or Oxus River). 

I take lunch at the Koi-Tezek Pass4122m, 13,523ft, 2.56 miles high in the barren desert.

The Saudi visitors also had a special goal in Tajikistan.   They wanted to visit Bulunkul, the coldest village in the country.  

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