A time jump – day 150 of the journey and country number 22.
A lot has happened since we left Armenia behind.
We drove through Azerbaijan and fought with corrupt policemen, we waited for days for the ferry without a timetable and met other super-nice world travelers there, we fought our way through many hundreds of kilometers of straight roads in the glowing sun of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and in the end we passed several border crossings undamaged and surprisingly easy.
We have arrived in the Pamir and drive the route through the Wakhan Valley, i.e. the southern section which winds along the border to Afghanistan.
The Pamir is a part of Tajikistan in Central Asia, one of the poorest and most isolated areas we have ever come across. AND BEAUTIFUL! This is already an exciting contrast. In Khorog we have another double room with bathroom and in the afternoon we go for a cappuchino, in the evening the Gazprom barrel replaces the shower. At least it is warm and the table is richly set.
And we enjoy the apricot trees, which at this time of the year hang overflowing with ripe, fragrant fruit. The daughter of the house speaks English, so we can talk to the owners – we learn a lot about the inhabitants, school attendance and life on the Pamir in winter.
The next day the road becomes a challenge: a constantly changing mixture of soft deep gravel, washboard track and sandy sections. In detail not even very difficult to ride, but it requires constant concentration and in the end it is simply exhausting. At the same time we would love to enjoy the landscape so much. Accordingly we take many breaks.
We drive directly along the river Pansch, on the other side lies Afghanistan. We see villages, oases, cars, donkey carts, many people. But unlike here, nobody greets us. The river is wide and raging, the color like liquid cement. Here, nobody crosses the border so easily. Nevertheless, we encounter many border patrols, always four soldiers at a time, walking along the streets fully armed. Regardless of this, we enjoy the view of the landscape very much. Mostly barren and dry, a bit of a lunar landscape, but as soon as a tributary offers water, the area becomes an oasis: bright green, gentle, interspersed with fruit trees and vegetable beds. Simply beautiful. And it makes us realize once again how important water is, something we Western Europeans forget all too easily.
Especially impressive for us are the high snow-covered mountains on the Afghan side. Almost the whole time we have the five and six thousand meter peaks of the Hindu Kush in view: snow-covered and majestic. We can’t get enough of each other.
Meanwhile we are at 3800 meters altitude and are looking for a place to sleep. Next to a small river we set up our tent, together with Rüdiger and Kerstin, whom we met in Khorog, and Oliver and Dominique, whom we have been seeing regularly since the ferry across the Caspian Sea. A funny evening, but it ends soon, at this altitude it gets very quickly very cold.
The next day the route continues similarly until we arrive at the Khargush Pass at noon. There the route is over 4000 meters, but it becomes a bit easier, so that we become less concentrated. And so it happens as it has to happen: I switch off the ABS on a somewhat steeper section to avoid slipping, promptly block the front wheel and fall. Luckily we had decided to travel with soft luggage so that apart from a few bruises from the footrests and a bruised ankle, not much remains. Except maybe the realization that an ABS can do more than I can and it won’t be turned off so quickly in the future.
So much for today’s Pamir – the story continues at a later date. Promised!