Salom Tajikistan!

It was 5:30am and I awoke from a fitful sleep between two large Russian men on an AirBaltic flight from Riga.  Despite my best attempts to drown out the noise of some pretty aggressive snoring on either side of me, I had failed.  The flight attendants announced that we had landed at Dushanbe airport and that we would be taken by bus to the airport "terminal".  Half-conscious, I rolled out of the plane, into the bus and arrived at the single diminutive building that constitutes Dushanbe airport.

After presenting my Letter of Introduction from Mercy Corps to the immigration officer and sitting in a small room with a handful of other scruffy looking foreigners, I received my visa and was sent off into the early morning darkness with my bags to meet my driver.  I immediately spotted him among the surprisingly large crowd of people standing outside holding a sign emblazoned with "Mercy Corps Tajikistan" on it.  Once in the car, he handed me my cell phone to be used during my time here, gave me a few papers to sign and then we were off, barreling down the empty streets of Dushanbe.  He pointed at seemingly innocuous buildings, describing what they were in Tajik and Russian.  I understood maybe a fourth of the explanations, but I appreciated the brief tour nonetheless.

After I arrived at the Mercy Corps guesthouse, I stumbled in the dark to my room, changed, and passed out.

Fast forward to 1pm . . . I awake from a death sleep to an empty guesthouse.  I had apparently slept through my alarm clock that had been set for 9am . . . good thing it was still Sunday.  I whiled away the next few hours unpacking a bit, eating and getting the lay of the land.  Eventually the other two Mercy Corps staff got home - one another intern, the other the Deputy Chief of Party of the program I'll be working on here.  The rest of my time in Dushanbe was spent exploring the interesting, albeit limited historical sites around town and becoming acquainted with the staff based in the Dushanbe office.

The original plan had been that I would travel to Garm, in the mountains, to work on the agricultural value chain portion of the program there.  Reports were issued, however, that a group of mujahadeen who had been imprisoned after the civil war here escaped and were a potential security threat in the area around Garm.  A quick turn of events and I was detoured to Shaartuz in the south near the Afghan and Uzbek borders for a couple weeks until the situation quieted down in Garm.

So ends my Dushanbe adventure and begins another further south . . .

Parliament in Dushanbe
The People's Palace in Dushanbe
Somoni Monument in Dushanbe
A beautiful local mosque
My guesthouse for a few days
The view from Mercy Corps Tajikistan's HQ offices in Dushanbe


Pete said...

Love your writing style my friend. Very eloquent. I'll be checking this very often in the next few months, let us know when we can start skyping you.

Mary Spice said...

This sounds a little scary! Be safe!

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