Down from the mountains
Defrosting now after two weeks in the mountains. Plenty of snow there, and many of the villages were already unreachable by vehicle. People who live in those villages have to walk up to three hours to reach the main roads or larger villages. Horses are also used, and the ones we saw were beautiful animals and well cared for. But by January the snow will be too high even for the horses, and anyone needing to get down the mountain (to get to a hospital) has to be hand-carried by several men in a bathtub converted for the purpose that can slide
over the snow.
We visited about 25 communities for our assessment, and everyone single one showed us tremendous hospitality. These villages are for the most part very poor, yet for visitors they always go to great lengths to make you feel welcome. We were served tea, bread and sweets everywhere, and in most places they also managed to cook up soup and “pilav” the national dish of rice, vegetables and meat. We knew that generous hospitality is the custom here, but to experience in so many homes was humbling. Communities know that we are making an assessment and there is a good chance we may not be able to work with them, but that did not matter. As I prepare to leave Tajikistan for a holiday break in the US, it is the memory of these meals that will stay with me most strongly.