My walk through Tajikistan was pretty much eclipsed by the thought of Afghanistan being so close. The phone and internet I was given in Isfara became just a tool for me to find out more about Afghanistan whilst on the road and read up on the situations that were occurring daily. They were also going through their elections and I was reading that it was becoming more and more dangerous. This filled me with a feeling of dread and the prospect of having to spend nights in Afghanistan in the open, in the middle of nowhere became pretty daunting. Although when I could pry myself away from thinking about the country to come, I would find that the people of Tajikistan were lovely, they were all curious about what I was doing and willing to help me, I was offered food on a daily/hourly basis to the point that I had to start kindly declining offers because I had nowhere to put all the food and was offered tea wherever I went. But every now and again I would get back into the habit of researching Afghanistan and my friends and family would advise me to go meet with some people at the embassy (Afghan and/or British) once I got to Dushanbe, the capital and ask around about the safety and the problems I would face going into the country at this particular time. Saying that, before any embassy I had the mountains to worry about. Dushanbe was nicely nestled on the edge of one side of a mountain range spanning the width of that part of the country, so I had to brace myself for another similar Kyrgyz mountain experience. Cold nights, windy days and days spend going up hill. It was a struggle and the roads were more winding than in Kyrgyzstan, finding myself spending days going back and forth on myself up and down mountains. That soon became tiresome but was made bearable by the random people up the mountains that would stop to say hello and ask what I was doing. Again they would offer me chicken and drinks and in some cases money, which was a delightful break from the day long uphill struggles. One night a kind man saw me walking before sunset and invited me into his home where he was the caretaker for a hotel/restaurant that was closed over the winter, we spent the night talking about his children who were abroad studying and he cooked me dinner, which after a day of cold uphill walking was delightful. I asked if I could take a picture while dinner was cooking and he agreed but he wanted to make sure he was wearing two extra things… his sunglasses and hat.
More relief came in the form of an email a few days later, when one morning I was walking through the beginning of a village between two towns and stopped for a big breakfast to set me up for the day. As I routinely checked my emails there was one from my friend notifying me that the Hyatt hotel in Dushanbe had offered me a three night stay in their hotel once I reached Dushanbe and to just let them know the day before I arrived. Excited at the prospect of spending three nights in a 5 star hotel I found I had almost immediately perked up and was willing to do some good distance that day.