One Wild Journey, One Crazy Couple, One Life to Live
You may have noticed by now that although the Wakhan vegetation is intriguing, it does not provide the best outhouse. A few times I thought I needed to create one for myself, only to find Juma standing on the path waiting for me to catch up. Without much cover, I passed on a few not-so-ideal locales. As we left the first Borak campsite option, Juma pointed to our next option that could be seen down one side of the mountain, and up and down the other. I could feel my bowel constrict as I mentally took note of the distance.
Now at the campsite, I’m desperate.
I make sure Juma is occupied with the donkey and dart off into the trees. Silly move. The trees are actually standing in marshland and I am up to my ankles in muck. I make my way to the other side of a small river and find a clearing. Peering around the tree to make sure Juma is busy and out of sight, I bend down to ready myself, while checking out the target area. At the same time, the scorpion beneath me slightly lifts its tail. I proceed to area ‘B’ across the grass clearing. The ground is clear, but the air is not. Swarms of flies and mosquitoes hover just over the underbrush. I weigh my options. Scorpion or mosquitoes. I’m Canadian. I can deal with mosquitoes!
I set up the tent next to the river so I can be lulled to sleep by its music. The ground is somewhat sandy, so I use rocks to keep my tent pegs down, and step back to look at my handy work. Satisfied, I head back to Juma to set the fire.
I pull out my package of brown rice, my dehydrated vegetables, Braggs, and nutritional yeast in preparation for dinner. I am about to measure out enough rice for both Juma and I when I notice he has poured the entire package into a pot of water. “Oh, ok. I guess we are cooking my eight days worth of rice tonight”. Note to self – ration the food bars.
It turns out Juma likes the brown rice, veg and tuna concoction enough for two helpings. Even so, we have enough left over to feed just about everyone living in the valley. I empty a Tupperware I brought for nuts into a plastic bag and voila, we have lunch and dinner ready for tomorrow!
Satiated and very tired, I crawl into my cozy tent and sleeping bag just as the wind starts to pick up. I pull out my flashlight and book, and briefly recall reading that the Wakhan Corridor has its major snow melt in late August, and daily fluctuations in water levels can be spectacular. Small, fordable streams in early morning can become torrents in the late afternoon, as water from snow melted by the midday heat flows down to the high valley plains of the Wakhan. As I hear the wind start to whip against my tent and the rain begin to fall I question my decision to pitch my tent in loose sand next to the river!
Those who know me well know that when I leave a country, it may be wise to come with me. More often than not, disaster hits soon after I am gone. Very shortly after leaving, Hurricane Mitch hit Honduras, earthquakes have shaken Turkey and L.A., a tsunami washed over Japan, and bombs and fire-fights have erupted in various corners of the world. The only proviso – if you are coming with me, bring your raincoat. No matter what, the wonderful weather at my destination takes a horrible turn for the worse with my arrival.
The rare Wakhan rain storm lasts until after 2 in the morning. My mind stops racing through all of the possible scenarios of me chasing my tent downstream at close to 3 when I finally fall into a deep, exhausted, sunburnt sleep.