Sunday, November 13, 2005

Goulya's Outdoor Adventures

Unable to schedule any interviews today, it being Sunday and all, we decided to take the opportunity to explore. Through the guest house in Dushanbe a local woman, Goulya, sponsors a hike for internationals on Sundays. As if getting out of Dushanbe wasn't temptation enough we were sold after reading the description of last week's hike:

"Some people decided to have a camp at the middle of the way, but almost whole group reached a waterfall, which, luckily for us, wasn't completely empty. Few water, leaking by the rock from about 30m height, amongst green moss surroundings, created interesting combination of waterfall and vertical stream. Nice Indian summer weather with clear sky; yellowish-reddish trees, some of them with eatable berries with no name in English; bare hills, partly covered by cow dung so frequently as it was dungy rain there (sorry for such a romantic detail)"

I for one am curious to see how she describes our hike but for now you will have to content yourself with my description. We followed the Varzob river about 20 miles or so out of Dushanbe and then hiked in the Kondara region. After the initial steep climb up to get away from the road we found ourselves in a bit of a valley surrounded by sloping mountains with long grasses and jutting rock outcrops. For whatever reason the line from A&E's Pride and Prejudice where Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle are in the going to Derbyshire "and surely these southern counties have nothing to compare to the wild and untamed beauty of the Peaks." It was pretty breathtaking. We spent a lot of the hike jumping from rock to rock crossing back and forth the mountain stream, which was slightly fuller than anticipated due to the past couple days of rain. The river had several small waterfalls and rapids. There were a couple of more challenging spots where we rigged a rope to help people along narrow ridges. After two hours or so, we broke for a lunch of Tajik bread and American peanut butter, tea and cookies. One of the people we were with is a French photographer who laughed at the peanut butter but had some anyway. Then we forged on to the main waterfall, where we took a million pictures before heading back. Pictures to follow - I promise.

-A. Monkey