Sarvinoz and Olim gave us a gift of a book called Travel Through Tajikistan by Dmitry Melnichkov. In leafing through it on Tuesday morning, we decided to contact a tour company to arrange some day trips. We hired the first company that answered the phone. Later in the day, we discovered that the guy we hired was author of the book (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Dima met us at our hotel and we walked together to the location where the driver and car were parked. Just near the car is a small walled space where cherries are washed, pitted, and juiced. Dima pushed open the door so we could get a better look. Most of the women didn't want to have their photo taken, but I found one lovely young woman who consented. The women even gave us a glass of juice to try.
At that point, I knew Dima was going to be a perfect guide for us. We met our driver, Umar, and we were on our way to Hissor Fortress.
Although there has been a fortress at this site since the time of Cyrus and Alexander, the current Hissor gate dates back to the 16th century. The fortress has been destroyed 21 times. The main gate has been recently re-restored.
The fortress walls have melted down to hills of clay. As part of this newest renovation, portions of a new wall have been built and merchant shops re-imagined.
After a lunch at the adjacent National Tea House, Dima took us to his dacha located between Hissor and Dushanbe. The dacha (summer home) was built in the 1960s by Dima's grandfather. Dima's grandfather ran a newspaper printing shop in Dushanbe. In fact, some of the reparations Germany made to the Soviet Union included printing presses that were installed in the printing shop run by Dima's grandfather. For the walls of the dacha, the grandfather used the readily available and free tubes that were inside the rolls of paper. The paper tubes were then covered with plaster, and his grandfather painted fanciful scenes on the exterior walls. The lot size is 1/20th of a hectare and provides enough space to grow raspberries, fruit trees, and escape from Dushanbe.
Near Anzob, we came upon a group of three or four families who have made a temporary camp. The men were out grazing the sheep and cattle. The women were making butter and chakka.
Their campsite and kitchen along the trail
First the milk, a mixture of cow and sheep milk, is pasteurized over low heat. Then it is churned by a team of two women. The churning takes about one hour.
The butter is skimmed off and the remaining product is put into cloth bags weighted with rocks to strain out the liquid.
Along the way we saw lots of donkeys loaded with firewood or grass for animals coming down the trail.
The trail crosses the Ojuk River several times before arriving at the waterfall of our final destination.
Along the way, we picked mulberries to supplement our meager water supply.
Left: The waterfall
Right: Umar and wildflowers he picked for his wife.
The hot, dry walk back was mostly downhill, but it still took two hours to get back to the car and more water.
These three hikes were very interesting and a good way to work off all the calories we consumed on the non-hiking days.