Something seems special about staring across a wide valley towards Afghanistan. All through the Tajik Wakhan, I find my eyes lingering at the villages just across the border and wondering what life is like there. This photo, taken above the village of Langar, is nearly to the end of the Tajik Wakhan. Several kilometers further, the road turns back north towards the Pamirs while the Wakhan River goes back to its source high in the mountains.
Marco Polo passed through here, as did many of the Great Game agents in an age when Russian and British agents were contesting for control of the region. While the Wakhan River separates Tajikistan and Afghanistan, the mountain peaks mark the border with Pakistan. The thin stretch of land in between, the Afghan Wakhan, stands culturally apart from all of the areas surrounding it.
Throughout the region, we constantly meet people willing to stop for a word or a laugh or a cup of tea. This girl stops walking to stare as we approach her. Showing only her eyes, we aren’t sure at first whether she is worried or amused. As we try to talk to her and pantomime, though, the laugh that escapes betrays her feelings.
A bit more outgoing, this kid invites us into his family’s home for tea. He studies English in school, and we speak about life in the Wakhan and to a greater extent in Tajikistan. Like so many other interactions throughout Central Asia, it really reinforces the idea that people all around the world want many of the same basic things: friends, family, success, and so on.
The Wakhan Corridor, or at least my time here, is full of interactions like this. Brief moments of interaction that over time add up to the welcoming hospitality the area is famous for.
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