Monday it rained. Monday was President's Day so Brandon had the day off. When you're in Dushanbe in winter and it's raining, there are three options for fun: stay home, go to an indoor play gym (shudder), or go to where the rain turns to snow. We decided to go find some snow.
I had read (sketchy) accounts of a ski resort forty-five minutes or an hour outside Dushanbe so we decided to go and find it.
I took Tajikistan and the High Pamirs, as it had the most specific directions to the resort. Turn off around kilometer thirty-three and at some undetermined point, the road forks. Take one of the forks and two kilometers up you'll find the resort in all of its faded Soviet glory.
We took one fork, and not finding the resort, we took the other fork.
By that point, the road had degraded from 'poor' to 'not safe for people who are used to paving and guard rails,' and when the car slid sideways as Brandon was navigating the top of the hill in the picture, we gave up and turned around.
Brandon mentioned to the DCM later that week that we had tried to find the resort and had to turn around because of sketchy road conditions. "Sketchy road conditions!" he exclaimed, "When I went a few weeks ago - with a security escort - our car slid off the road and we had to put on snow chains to get there. Extremely sketchy, indeed!"
Eleanor, meanwhile, unaware of her life hanging in the balance, fell asleep.
We eventually found somewhere to pull off and everyone played in the snow, happy to be out of the car.
We had borrowed sleds from friends, so the children made a little sled run and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
We became quite the attraction for a constant stream of villagers walking by. Always conscious of being watched, Brandon and I wondered what they thought of the crazy Americans who would willingly go and play in the cold, wet snow. Brandon worried that they would come and tell us to leave and stop disturbing their peace.
Eventually everyone got tired and the sled run got fast enough to almost dump children in the stream, so we headed home.
On our way back to the car, one of the villagers asked if we had a nice time. "Just so you know," he told Brandon, "there's better sledding further up the canyon. This place isn't really any good for it."
Now we know for next time.