Part of the reason Afghanistan was such a great travel experience was that people were so amazingly helpful and friendly and willing to sort out three random foreigners who showed up for a look around. What could have been a rather disorganized and uncomfortable experience was made amazing through the kindness and hospitality of the people we met on the way, and this post is dedicated to them.
Not even fully across the border we met Zeki, who gave us a ride to the nearest village and walked us around while doing some translating and discussing Afghani culture and the peculiarities of the Badakshan region.
After posing for some pictures and walking round the village and exploring the bazaar (a personal favorite pastime regardless of what country I’m in) Zeki left us to our own devices with an invitation to return to the border post where he could sort out beds for us for the nights in the soldiers’ compound.
Which, it turns out, was entirely unnecessary. After a bit more walking we met Durmohammed.
After showing us a chaikana and the most delicious meal I’d have in the country, Durmohammed offered to walk us back to his house for the night where we could sleep and his wife would fix us up with something to eat.
On the way, we stopped in at our hosts’ friend’s house for a cup of tea and a bit of conversation (mostly about love and marriage in Northern Afghanistan) with an incredible view over the mountains beyond the border.
When we finally made it to Durmohammed’s house, we talked for hours about living through the wars, the times before when warlords ruled the country, when raiders would swoop down out of the mountains unto the village, as well as the future of the country and some of the ethnic tensions between the Pashto majority and the Persian/Uzbek/Tajik minorities. It was a really engaging political and sociological discussion, but one which I’ll be detailing elsewhere.
We said goodbye to Durmohammed and his family, but the next few days would work just the same as we explored the region.
Walk for a bit on the traditional paths across the tops of plateaus and sides of mountains.
We met sooooo many people on these roads, and stopped so many times to wave or try to say hello (or occasionally ask directions, as our map wasn’t quite up to the challenge).
Eventually get tired, stop for a break, and soon be invited in for tea at the nearest cluster of homes.
Walk to the next village, get tired, and sit down for a break.
Meet somebody else, talk for a bit, and be invited into the village guesthouse.
Copious amounts of food, a couple hours of discussion, and a bit more exploring and taking photos of the folks we met. Then off to sleep and at it again the next morning.
The last day, after being offered a ride by a group of guys who were driving back to Redoge Bazaar, we ran into Durmohammed once more and went together to have lunch at this unlikely looking teahouse beside the bazaar. We said thanks, of course, and probably too many times. Nothing we could say, though, seemed to be enough for all the goodwill we felt towards the people we met on the way.