01 Sep, 2009
Back to Dushanbe
Posted by: Scott In: The Rally
The house phone rang at 5:20AM. Imomdad’s uncle was moving up the time yet again (it was originally 7:00AM)–we have fifteen minutes to pack everything, eat, and get ready. We jumped out of our futons and set about getting everything ready. We were still packing up by the time he arrived and had to skip breakfast in order to not keep the driver and other passengers waiting. Imomdad and his father helped get all of our bags outside to the driver so that he could put them in and on top of the vehicle. We said thanks and goodbye to Imomdad and his family and jumped in the vehicle, a Pajero 4X4, which was already occupied by a woman and her two daughters in the middle row of seats (along with the driver’s helper in the passenger seat). We got in the back but they could not put the seat back up because my legs stretched out too far. The woman and her children were kind enough to switch seats with us and we got in the middle row. We were thinking we’d be lucky and get the row to ourselves, but we stopped just a couple minutes outside of Imomdad’s house to pick up a young guy in his 20′s, who sat in our row. I got pushed into the middle. It was going to be a long ride.
We stop at a gas station to fill up the vehicle and then proceed to the outer limits of Khorog. All of a sudden a car speeds past us and stops right in front of the 4X4. It was Valler and his nephew. Did they come to see us off? Valler gets out and goes to the driver’s side window and starts talking quickly and in an agitated tone with the driver. They point back and forth to us, and it looks like they are arguing. Valler motions for us to get out, and we do so. Valler and his nephew assault us in Russian, shaking the car document papers I had given them the day before. I had no idea what was going on, and the driver was not pleased that they were being held up because of us. Valler dials someone of his phone and hands it to me. It was a woman who spoke English. She explained that Valler needed us to go to the city office to sign some documents in order to legally transfer the car ownership to them. Why hadn’t they known this the day before!?
As I was the legal owner of the car I jumped in Valer’s car and headed off to who knows where, leaving Collin, the other passengers, and our baggage sitting on the side of the road. They said that doing the paperwork would only take a few minutes. The problem was that the government office wouldn’t open for another hour and a half. I was taken to what seemed to be Valler’s friend’s place. He asked if I wanted some tea, I told him no thanks, I just wanted to hurry up and leave the city. Asking what would happen to Collin and our baggage, they related that he would be dropped off at the bus terminal with our bags and that we would meet up after everything was completed and find another vehicle to take us to ur destination. So much for our ride to Dushanbe!
Valler dropped his nephew and I at the government ofice. His nephew explained that Valler was going to try and have the office open up early so that we could get on our way as soon as possible. We waited and waited and Valler finally shows up with the city notary in his car just a few minutes before 8:00AM. We went into the office and I signed a flurry of papers that were passed my way. We were done within ten minutes and I got back in Valler’s car so that e could drive me to where Collin was waiting. We reached the terminal, but didn’t stop there, instead continuing onwards to the the city limits. He stops the car, we shake hands, and he points to a gas station about 100ft away. There was Collin, along with the rest of the passengers, standing outside of the vehicle. They had waited almost two hours for me! I ran over and got in the car and we took off. It turns out the young man traveling with us spoke English and he explained that they had to wait for us to finish up, otherwise the driver would lose the income from both of our fares. I apologized to the driver and other passengers as we headed back into the mountains towards Dushanbe yet again.
It wasn’t a great feeling to be heading back in the opposite direction of the way we wanted to go, back to a city that we had already spent too much time in. Although it was yet again a great selection of scenery we were a bit cramped inside of the vehicle and the ride was very bumpy, which took quite the toll on our backsides. One interesting point during the ride was where I saw I saw Greg (who we met back in Bukhara) pedaling his bike up the mountain that we were descending. I yelled out to him and the driver stopped the vehicle so that we could chat for a couple minutes. We relayed our story to him, wished each other good luck, and took a picture of our meeting before heading out again. In all the ride took about sixteen hours, including a few short rest stops. Quite a bit faster than we managed to do, but this vehicle had quite a bit better clearance, four-wheel drive, and an experienced driver. We were dropped off outside Dushanbe airport at around 12:30AM where we paid the driver and threw our things in a taxi to be transported back to Hotel Poytat (formerly Hotel Dushanbe). The driver wanted 25 somoni for the two kilometer ride, which was ridiculous. We paid, but resolved to agree on a price before getting into the taxi next time.
Pictures have been posted in the gallery.