The beginning of the friendship with Tajikistan wasn’t the best. All my three fellow travelers were weak because of the diarrhea they brought from Usbekistan. We couldn’t find anything interesting in the capital Dushanbe so we escaped already at the second day into the mountains. Escaping describes it well because we escaped from the traffic police who tried to stop us because of our dirty car. Because you’re only allowed to enter Dushanbe with a clean car otherwise you risk a fine. But we got a fine only two hours later for speeding. I was driving out of town through a valley when a traffic police office jumped out of nowhere so I had to stop. He showed me on his laser pistol a “83” and explained that only 60 is allowed. I answered “Nje panemaju” (I don’t understand) and tried it all the time that he might lose his patience and let me go. But instead he called an English speaking guy who translated to me that now my driver license goes to Dushanbe and I have to pick it up from the police station and pay the fine there. It was obviously that he wanted money. After paying 56€ we were free again.
Later that day we passed the first of the many checkpoints of the autonomous region Gorno-Badakhshan for which we needed a special permit in our passport. Then we drove through a beautiful valley where on our right side we could see the Panj, the border river to Afghanistan. Afghanistan should be for the next 600 kilometer on our right side.
We looked for a long time from our car windows to the other river side. Hmm this is Afghanistan. The people from both side of the river had been united for a long time. The region called Badakhshan and covered parts of the Tajik Pamir, north parts of the Afghan Hindukush and even the Hunza region of Pakistan. But the region got split within the “great game”. India and Russia fought more than 130 years from 1817 to 1947 for the domination in Central Asia. At the end they split Badakhshan. They build between Great India (including the today’s Pakistan) and the Soviet Union (including the today’s Tajikistan) a only a few kilometers wide buffer zone and gave it to Afghanistan. This buffer zone called Wakhan-corridor and was supposed to be on our route soon.
We spent the night in a home-stay next to the street. There was Afghanistan only 200m from our beds. We ate cross legged on a carpet plateau under fruit trees, used a simple pot for showering and used the bio toilet. It was like back to the roots. And for sure in areas like this you can find a place with internet. So we enjoyed the simplicity of life…