Tajikistan Dispatches

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Dispatch #1, June 12th, 2005 PDF Print E-mail
The spigots spit out brown foul-smelling water and the toilets don’t flush. My introduction to Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

On the other hand, the city has charm. There are giant trees lining the broad streets and down the middle of the main street is grass and a sidewalk – lined with even more old trees and park benches.
Dispatch #2, June 22, 2005 PDF Print E-mail
The temperature was hovering around 100 degrees as we walked into the state-run hotel in the center of Korganteppa, a town about 100 miles southwest of the capital, Dushanbe. The lobby was inviting in that it was cooler, but drab otherwise. It was very Soviet, the reception desk was behind cheap glass and there was a tiny opening in the glass – forcing even the shortest person to stoop to speak to the desk clerk.

An attendant led us to the second floor, past a dusty bar with two plastic tables and chairs and down an unlit hallway. I was given room number five. It was a tiny room, but had an air conditioner. When I asked the guy if it worked, he held up the broken plastic plug that had been lying on the floor, but then plugged the two pieces of cord, that hung from the unit, directly into the socket – when he made the connection the unit rumbled to life – and miraculously it blew cold air.
Dispatch #3, June 30, 2005 PDF Print E-mail
Thirty feet below us was a raging river, the mountain side above was red dirt and we were sandwiched in between – on a dirt road that was getting more treacherous by the second – as heavy rain and hail pounded our Nissan SUV. 

Suddenly, rocks were flying through the air – I counted three the size of bricks – including the one that dented the hood of our vehicle. Now, the heavy rain was causing parts of the mountainside to begin to move. We watched in horror as the water rushed down the mountain -- depositing huge piles of mud in our path. As we plowed through it, the other two passengers and I were desperately shouting “go, go, go,”as Fattoh, our driver, pushed harder on the gas pedal trying to outrun the land slides.
Dispatch #4, August 2, 2005 PDF Print E-mail
We were on our way to a circumcision ceremony as we bounced along a dirt road cut into the side of a mountain of rock. Below us was a raging river that separates Tajikistan from Afghanistan, in front of us were the Pamirs – part of the Himalayan chain – mountains that are higher than the Rockies.

The Pamirs are like the Grand Tetons or Yosemite on steroids. Awesome beauty with snow capped tops and tiny patches of green just below the snow and then solid rock most of the rest of the way down. Tajiks and Afghans have irrigated the sides of many of the hills above the river – where they grow fruit trees, wheat and have garden spaces.
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