Time to catch up with Mary Smith’s epic adventures in Afghanistan in episode 29…wonderful scenery and a visit to an old and very historic valley and fortress…
Khudadad confirmed we were now travelling through a Harakat controlled area so Sayed was on his own turf and became more relaxed and good humoured.
From surly driver he now became a tourist guide, stopping to show me a hot spring. The water, which bubbled from the spring then into a large natural pool, was remarkably warm, making me long to soak in a hot bath. Sayed scooped some water in his hand and put it to his lips, urging me to do likewise. There was a burst of laughter from everyone when I spat out the foul tasting liquid. It may well have been a cure-all for all kinds of health problems, but it would have required a life threatening condition to make me swallow the stuff voluntarily.
At one point we travelled through an area where it looked as though there had been a light snowfall. Sayed waved an arm expansively at the landscape and announced, with great authority, ‘Milk!’ Astonishment silenced me while the boys in the front, for the first time indicating they understood some English, exploded into loud gales of laughter. Sayed bellowed at them and they stifled their mirth, although their shoulders still shook with suppressed laughter. Solemnly, Sayed, turning right round to face me – I so wished he wouldn’t do that – asked, ‘What do I mean?’
‘I think you mean salt.’ I replied, equally solemnly. For a moment there was silence as Sayed assimilated this information. Then he too broke into loud laughter – which set his companions off again. Surprised by his readiness to enjoy a joke against himself, I decided I rather liked him after all.
The landscape became ever more rugged and spectacular. The mountains on our left rose sheer, from the level of the track, which was liberally littered with boulders and rocks that had come crashing down the mountainside. On our right a river fought its way over and around even more gigantic rocks in great swirls and eddies and miniature waterfalls. We climbed yet another steep pass with an awe-inspiring drop of thousands of feet.
Please head over to enjoy the rest of this post.. thanks Sally.