Photographer's Note

In the note to my last post I wrote about my return journey to the border town of Eshkashim. The following day I left Afghanistan. I was unwell but I also felt very sad, knowing it was unlikely I would ever visit again. It was the end of my stay in Afghanistan, but not the end of the trip.

Once back in Tajikistan I phoned Tolek ( only to find out he was on his way to a hospital in Dushanbe so I simply turned out in his house, said hello to his wife Gul ( and reclaimed my old room for one night. I had some soup for dinner, then spent the whole night in the bathroom, regretting I had shared my medication with an Afghan woman. The following morning I got in a shared taxi ( to Dushanbe.

I had 3 full days left to travel in Tajikistan before my flight back home. I had made no arrangements, in case something stopped me in Afghanistan or in eastern Tajikistan. As I was still a bit weak I decided I would spend the remaining time in the Fann Mountains, staying in the same spot and enjoying the nature and solitude. I caught the first available shared taxi to the lake Iskandarkul and checked in the first guesthouse I saw by the water’s edge.

In October, that turquoise lake, one of the major attractions of western Tajikistan, was surrounded with trees painted in autumn colours and completely devoid of holiday-makers that flock there in the summer months. Paradise.

I was also hoping I would spend the evenings in a warm room, enjoying a book and a good night sleep but that wasn’t to be. The owner of the guesthouse, quiet and working in the convenience shop-cum-bar on the ground floor of the house during the day, in the evenings turned into a landlady from hell. She sat in her bar, drinking with the men who worked for the company maintaining electricity pylons nearby and rented rooms in the same guesthouse. Late at night, she would knock on my door, several times, screaming “dievooshkah!” (which means “girl” in Russian) and asking if she could borrow various items from my room (such as my blow heater, the only heating in the room where the temperature without it fell below 10 Celsius) or if I had whatever it was she was after (e.g. pain killers for one of the men’s headache). I didn’t really get much sleep during my visit at Iskandarkul.

But with the landscape so amazingly beautiful and my digestive system on the mend, it felt like a minor annoyance and I managed a few wonderful walks enjoying the sunny weather and marveling at the colours of the Fann Mountains.

Please have a look at the two images in WS. I found it really difficult to choose which of these three to use as the main upload.

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Additional Photos by Kasia Nowak (kasianowak) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1692 W: 9 N: 3499] (17676)
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