Photographer's Note

I have mentioned in the previous post that after a short stay in the border town of Eshkashim, me and my guide Azim left for the Hindu Kush. What you see in this photo is the next mountain range we reached a couple of days later, the Pamir and the friendly inhabitants of the village Sarhad-e-Broghil, The kind of friendly people I met all the way during my trip.

To be more precise, that was me, Azim and our driver. I’ve written quite a lot about the border crossing and also about the quality of the accommodation and food. It’s now time to tell you a little bit about the transport.

We left Eshkashim in a battered, but reasonably new Toyota Landcruiser. “Wow”, I thought, but also “Damn, is this the way I’m going to travel in Afghanistan? What am I going to write in my travel diary?” And, last but not least “What will my TE friends think when I admit I travelled in such luxury”.

The luxury didn’t last long. On the first slightly steep hill the Toyota packed up. Azim made a phone call (we were still close to the border and we all had Tajik sim cards; if something like that happened the following day we would have been stuck, unable to communicate with the outside world) and informed me a replacement vehicle would shortly be sent from Eshkashim. And indeed, half an hour later my new car arrived. I couldn’t believe my eyes – it was still a Toyota but… a Corolla. What followed, was the most bumpy 2 days’ long drive in my life. But part of me was happy as at least I had a story of travel hardship to tell (little did I know that upon my return to Eshkashim I would be so ill that I wouldn’t really need any other stories).

Another problem, for a solo travelling woman, were toilet stops. This may be the case of “too much information” for some TE members but just to say – ladies beware. The landscape is mountainous but the valley is flat and wide. There is not much vegetation (certainly no dense bushes, more like an odd tree or two). And you travel with two men who probably know, but don’t quite remember (or are too chivalrous to admit it) that female bodies function in a similar way as male ones in terms of input and output, so it’s not enough to give your female guest water… Ok, I think I’ve said enough for you to get the picture.

When we reached the furthermost village of our trip, I was told that the driver would leave us and drive all the way back to Eshkashim without us. There is some strange law in Wakhan (not dissimilar form the rules of hiring horses in the Himalaya) that requires travellers to hire cars in the villages along the way, to benefit the local communities (great, but what a waste of cars and fuel; not that it had much impact on the environment though – there are very few cars in that neck of the woods). To be honest, tired of the bumpy rides and having been promised a Landcruiser for my return journey, I was glad. So imagine my dismay when, on the morning of our departure, I found another Corolla waiting for me. Just before you ask – practically all cars, at least in that part of Afghanistan, are Toyotas of some description. Usually imported and driven with foreign registration plates they are the 21st century camels.

I did travel in a Landcruiser on the last day of my journey, the day when I arrived back to Eshkashim. If you would like to get an idea what it’s like to travel in a car in Afghanistan, you are welcome to watch this 18 second’ video on youtube:

Two more photos in WS.

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Additional Photos by Kasia Nowak (kasianowak) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1597 W: 9 N: 3247] (16832)
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