We were going to fly to Dushanbe yesterday but the weather was a bit inclement so the plane didn't fly. Didn't go the day before either. When we were trying to figure out if the plane left, Rowshan asked several people. Everyone seemed to say something different. One man said it definitely left because his sister flew on it. Another young man said they saw it leave. One taxi driver said it hadn't flown. Another said it had. But once we got to the airport, we found out there had indeed been no plane. So, I have no idea why so many people were insisting it had.
A 14 hour drive on narrow winding roads brought us to Dushanbe. I got carsick twice when I usually don't get carsick. Maybe it was the SUV, maybe the driver, maybe because the windows were fogged up so I couldn't see out. It cleared up and I popped a motion sickness pill then managed OK. It was still a lot more frightening than the plane. It was the first heavy rain of the season so water streamed over the dirt roads, washing parts away. At one point we almost got caught in a mudslide. As we were driving by, we could see a small stream of mud and dirt begin flowing down the hill. The driver gunned the engine and got us out of there.
Once it cleared up a little and I managed to overcome my car sickness, we had some beautiful views of villages across the river on the Afghan side. The area had some sizable villages and was a lot more populated than the Wakhan area.
The road wound up to a mountain pass. At the top were lots of warning signs and paths roped off. The area was mined during the civil war and the mines hadn't been cleared yet. The roped off areas were paths that had been cleared. A little farther down from the pass, we came to a village. The harsh mountains had given way to rolling grass covered hills. We stopped at a village which was known for its quality meat and honey. One of the passengers bought a leg of mutton. R and I bought some honey. A woman who was traveling with us told us the honey there was really good “ecologically clean” the Russian term for “organic.”
As we left the mountains we reached flat and smooth pavement. About ½ hour from Dushanbe when the driver insisted on stopping and washing the car. We thought this very strange but the woman we were traveling with explained that in Dushanbe, they actually will fine drivers if their car is dirty. Rowshan pointed out the hypocrisy of them punishing people for the fact that the government hasn't put in decent roads. The road through the mountains was a mess.
The reason we had to take that road was the faster road which went further along the Afghan border, was being repaired by Turkish construction crews. After they finish with that road, they will fix the mountain road. The driver said that police and guards were really corrupt on the other road demanding tolls so if the mountain road is repaired, then the traffic will probably shift to that road just to avoid the bribes necessary on the shorter road.