The heat breaks

 

It’s that rare time of the year when the temperature is just right in the Rasht Valley.  After months without rain, a storm broke the heat and cleared out much of the dust a few days ago.  A fine haze of Afghan (and Tajik) dust had hung in the air since I returned.  A still- warm wind blows through the parched landscape.  Despite the brief rain, it is still unusually dry here.  The grasses which will keep the livestock alive through the winter have been cut, and what remains is all shades of yellow and brown.

Today our youth intern and I walked for a few hours through this brown landscape.  We passed gaggles of children playing by the roadside, without a care in the world,  and a very old man on a donkey slowly making his way up the hill.  We had a brief conversation with him as we moved past, but his Tajik was difficult to understand.  We encountered a few shepherd boys near the remains of a massive concrete warehouse that must have been used for vehicles and crops when all of this land was a Soviet Sovkhoz.  Nearby were two strange pieces of land that loomed 10 meters above the landscape, eroded on all sides by wind and water.  Later we passed a few adult men looking almost delirious as they slowly trudged uphill, clearly feeling the effects of 28 days of Ramadan fasting.  In the evening, the prayer call of the muezzin can be heard clearly from our “tapchan”, mixing with the sounds of children and the occasional car.  Summer lingers on even as autumn is in the air.

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