Monday, August 21, 2006

Ishkashim

We're back from Ishkashim and another great Badakhshan adventure. Ishkashim is a region (and a city) south of Khorog, about an 8 to 10 hour drive. On the first day, we got a very late start and decided to go only as far as Garmcheshma, which translates as Hot Springs. In Garmcheshma, there is a natural hot spring and a guesthouse where we planned to stay for the night, but the guesthouse was full so we ended up staying at the house of a local Physics teacher. After dinner, we went for an evening soak in the outdoor hot spring pool under the stars . . . at least the men did. The women went to a small builing to relax in privacy. Early next morning, we hit the road after a hearty bowl of sheer choy, or milk tea, and bread. Along the way, we stopped at another natural hot springs for a quick soak. After reaching Ishkashim city, we drove for another two and a half hours until we reached a village set on the steep slopes of the river valley. At the bottom of the village we found some musicians who were excited to arrage a performace for us the following day. At the top of the village . . . another natural hot spring and a guesthouse, which was also full. So we foud ourselves a freshly slaughtered goat and a kind family to host us for the night. The next morning we soaked and then went back down to the bottom of the valley to see dance and music in the oldest home in the area. They said no one really knows when the home was built, but guessed it to be hundreds of years old, possibly 18th century! On our way out there was a wonderful impromptu dance party the small courtyard of the ancient home. When the dancing ended, we drove futher down the road to another village where, with the help of a man from the first village, we found another home to host our party of 10 for the night, this time a border guard and his family. In the morning, Uvaido set out early and found some amazing dancers and musicians to perform at our host's home. Once again, we enjoyed a wonderful performance where eveyone danced. We left at about one o'clock and reached Khorog at about 10, where our wonderful house cook, Hodja Bagum, was waiting up for us with a huge pot of food.




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