November 12th, 2008 – by: sayohat
Garm Chashma hot springs
I was able to spend my last day in the country finally updating this blog and enjoying some good grub at the cafeteria below the Southern Fried Chicken restaurant, not far from the good ol' Hotel Poytaxt. This time my room was shared with two other presumably western tourists, judging from the backpacks. But when I checked in at 10:30, no one was there. It was snowing all day in Dushanbe
, but there wasn't much to show for it at the end of the day but wet roads and quiet flakes melting in my hair. When I returned to the room, I met my hotel roommate, Dave, who was standing outside the room. Apparently the doorknob had fallen off and wouldn't connect to the internal mechanism that made it work.
Bumping along in a Tajik marshrutka
Eventually two Tajik men came and fixed it with screwdrivers and some elbow grease. One of them saw Dave's empty beer bottle and repeatedly tried to engage us in a round of drinking, evident not by Russian I understood but by the unmistakable finger flicking on the throat. After the door was fixed, the other roommate Naveen came in. He's been traveling for two years, Dave for five months. They were both American and neither had been in the Peace Corps. Naveen talked about how he usually only meets Americans traveling long term only after they've been in Peace Corps. It's certainly true that proportionately more Canadians, French and Germans travel than Americans. We stepped out briefly, grabbing the last meal at a nearby cafe before retiring to our room and some more travel conversation.
Two thick skulls in Istaravshan
Tajikistan in a word is "adventure," and certainly unpredictable. The transportation will stand out for me more than the tourist sites, although the mountains and fortresses were worth visiting. I would like to visit again when it is spring or summer to appreciate the lakes and more of the mountain scenery without the difficulties finding transportation or worrying about snowy mountain passes. Yet those things contribute to making this a fascinating country worthy of much more than a month and certainly deserving more coverage in the guidebooks. Each part of the country I visited was distinctly different and although I couldn't speak the langauges, I got a feel for the people and certainly some of the difficulties they have to endure. This may be the poorest country I've visited, and the economic indicators don't point in its favor. However, Tajikistan has enormous potential and despite all the frustrations I am glad I visited at this stage in the country's history. It's young, growing and wild. Anyone seeking true adventure will not be disappointed in this country. Rohi safed, Tojikiston!