A day trip in Panjshir for the team today! The valley of Panjshir is famous because it has been protected (it appear to be the most safe area of all country) from any kind of outside authority (even Taliban) and Soviet attacks thanks to the Sultan, tagik’s leader, Ahmad Shah Massoud murdered by a terrorist in 2001 two days prior 9/11. He’s worshiped till this day from the population and, every year on the 9th of September, people gather for his memorial.
Being described as one of the most beautiful valley of Afghanistan, we take Camilla (only one of our vehicle because it’s better to lay low), two taxis and our inseparable security detail, our guardian angels, up north-east: after 100 km we enter the “mouth” of Panjshir, a rocky gorge with a river, by the same name, running in the middle of it.
Panjshir means 5 lions and refers to the 5 Wali (protectors), 5 brothers that lived in the center of the valley. They were very spiritual people, considered holy men by the population because they could solve problems and cure people, that’s why considered “lions”, because they could fight evil.
The road opens before our eyes, with plantations of pomegranates, mulberries and nuts. Small villages, around 500 (with 300,000 people) placed one after the other.
After having lunch on the banks of the Panjshir (picnic with chicken, and beef skewers, rise with meat, vegetables and raisins and yogurt (fresh) we head towards the mausoleum of Massoud, situated on top of a headland with such an amazing view over the valley. That’s the place where the leader had his “office” and a tiny mosque was built.
This is the perfect occasion to interview two locals that teach us about the history, the war fought first hand, the horror they’ve seen, the mourning. Encounters like this one always touch our hearts and make us reflect.
Back again on the road, the caravan drives to a little village that will host us tonight. Being a passenger has its advantages: the eye catches images that soon will become memories and stories of unexplored lands by common tourists and western people (we came to know that we are the second group of tourists, after a English one, to be accompanied in this secluded and remote land, and we are so proud!!). The atmosphere around us, seems to bring us to a lost period of time: cabins clinging to a mountain side, girls milking cows under colored veils, boys playing soccer like it was the match of the life, women washing the dishes at the river and make them dry on the rocks. A kind of “movie” that makes you think of the beauty and simplicity of the mountain’s life.
The governor of the district is waiting for us and, happy to meet us, takes us to the village of Abdullh Khil, situated at 2800 mt of altitude. The locals welcome us with such energy and we start telling each other things about our culture and customs; they’ve just started working again (pastoral activity, crop and manufacture) because winter is so cold it’s impossible to grow anything, so they kind of go into hibernation. We slowly get acquainted… The hospitality is incredible: they gave us an entire room where we’ll have dinner and spend the night. In a blink of an eye a table is set, two boys bring us hot water to wash our hands. Two men enter the room bringing all sorts of food! We are ecstatic!!
A hot herbal tea, some pastries and straight to bed!
Tomorrow we’ll discover Panjshir!