AS A WAY OF LIFE

nomads, writer, speaker, photographer

TADJIKISTAN

Crossing in the wild and infinite spaces of the Pamir

We cycled down at high speed, and suddenly we looked behind. They were there, the striking and magnificent mountains of the Pamir, the ones we just crossed. They were illuminated with fresh snow that gave their lines and their steep ridges this immaculate whiteness. However, the top of their peaks, that reached over 7’000 m elevation, were still in the clouds, the dark clouds of the storm.  

We just crossed our last pass at 4’300m elevation and we were going down to the flat and green steppes of Kirghizstan. We felt the magic of this crossing, the peaceful inner strength that floated in us.

Tajikistan had been a sacred time, glorifying this wild and powerful nature, the one that elevated us to the most splendid part of us, this life strength calmed with the contemplation and the feeling of unity to our surroundings. We were just one, linked to each element of the Earth.

This inner peace slowly opened our hearts, following our ascent. First, we met the gigantic trees as we entered the city of Dushanbe, these wise beings, that reassured only by their presence, rooted in this Land since centuries, giving without limitation all they have to offer to anyone.

Then, we crossed the green meadows, which breezed us to the mounts and mountains. We cycled across tiny villages where the children’s joyful shouts echoed in the valleys. We followed small valleys that narrowed to end in canyons crossed by red and tumultuous waters.

We traversed vertical faces on dirt roads to reach a fabulous mountain, drawn by the geological lines. It looked like the keeper of the passage. The nature already touched us by its sumptuousness. It was like this small lake of clear water where we swam before the uphill of our first pass on a rocky road. A long uphill that allowed us to distinguish the first line of the Pamir Mountains, before going down on a vertiginous road to Kalaikum.

We kept on going in canyons, where the wind echoed. Canyons where the power of the turbulent water created a thunderous resonance, that constantly reminded us of its presence. We felt so small in these passageways in the centre of rocks. However, on the other side of the river, the life of another people took place, the land of Afghanistan. Another universe with mud houses and flat roof, with men in long outfit and women wearing the veil. Camels and donkeys caravans brought goods along tiny paths from villages to villages, in places where there were no other access. A life, that seemed for us, from another world, another time.

Tajikistan went through difficult times, its recent civil war and two consecutive famines, however its population was still so welcoming and heart giving. And as we entered one of the famous Pamiri house, we discovered a new universe. A central gap is encircled with five wooden pillars symbolising the five Imams of Chia Islam and an opening on the roof enable the light to penetrate the house. It came through four squares that represent the four elements: earth, fire, air, and water. The human warmth of this home was highlighted with a small breakfast made of tea with milk and salted butter, in which we dipped some pieces of homemade bread. Incredible sharing, in which all our senses were stimulated from the smells, the tastes, the savours and the local music. It was really incredible to meet people that lived with so little food diversity; vegetable and fruits don’t grow at this altitude.

The Wakhan valley appeared and as we followed it, the view on each lateral valley was stunning, looking at summits playing with the clouds. These imposing peaks reached a world where oxygen was rare. They were majestic and their edges showed their grandeur. It was magic.

We gained elevation on a dirt road covered with sand that forced us to push our bikes. Patience and calm were required, as we dealt with our short breath and the effort, as well as the quantity of flies that followed us. But our struggle was reward on our first pass over 4’000m with the view on the Hindu Kuch mountains in Pakistan. And this is when we really entered a new universe; the universe of height. This ascension brought us to touch our soul. The spirit, there, was in peace.

We stopped in front of the Sassyk Lake, deep blue water in a vast steppe where the surroundings summits were imperial. In the morning, the sun rose and warmed our tent. Draped in our sleeping bags, we contemplated the morning life that took place in front of us, the contrasting light and shade discovering every details, horizon lines and new ridges, the shadows of clouds giving a sparkling atmosphere. In this immense nature, we feel the appeal of the wild, of these endless spaces.