Monday, 7 November 2011

Last days in the Wakhan

Returning on foot to the track which provided the vehicle access along the Wakhan a day early, we wondered what we would do as we had arranged for the car to meet us the next day. To our complete surprise there was a car parked off the track. It could only be waiting for us. Somehow Adab had known and sent the car for us. This was a double birthday present for James as we could now enjoy a hot meal and bed in Ishkashim. We divided up our remaining food and gave it to the donkey men and headed to Ishkashim.

The following day we went to the local clinic to donate much of our medical kit. It had been built by the Agha Khan Foundation 5 years ago. One of the young doctors took us on a tour. There were special rooms for TB treat and two infants were in the malnutrition treatment room, where they would get 21 days of treatment. The clinic was basic but clean and tidy. A man waiting outside explained that he was here with his wife who was having treatment, his 4 month old child had died that week. The Wakhan Corridor has the highest infant mortality rate of any region in the world and this heart wrenching story was tragically repeated frequently here.

Me at the clinic

Back at our homestay we were not the only tourists. Tommy was a Belgian who had visited Afghanistan before and had had various adventures in Afghanistan and Iran which had helped him to develop a good command of Persian. We had a pleasant evening chatting to him.

Before heading back to Tajikistan we had a final look around the market and James was ecstatic to find pomegranates. He had nearly jeopardised our trip by buying very expensive pomegranates in the UK and then complaining that they were not as good as Afghan ones so now he was happy.

James very happy to have found some pomegranates

When trying to cross the border later that day we had badly timed our attempt as it seemed to be closed for an unspecified amount of time. The Afghans blamed it on the Tajiks saying that they were praying. If that was the case then it was the first time we had heard of Tajiks doing any praying. Anyway it gave us a chance to get a few good photos with the Afghan border police, as well as befriending a fellow stranded tourist who had a vehicle and driver. This was useful as we had no idea how we were going to get back to Khorog once across the border. He was Swiss and was profoundly deaf. He had spent a total of 2 hours in Afghanistan and proudly told us that it was his 56th country.

James doing his best mujahideen look

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