Field trip, yippee!
Mahmud Naimov and Sandra Jacobs, who both work in cultural affairs at the U.S. embassy in Dushanbe, were my hosts for a day-trip south of Khujand into the mountains.
Two embassy folks were in Khujand last week, visiting programs in the Sugd region. They invited me to join them on Thursday, when they visited three Access Programs (more on that in the next installment, if I can figure out how to upload a video) and do a little “touristing” as well. Our first stop was Istaravshan, a town of about 50,000 about an hour south of Khujand into the mountains, which has one of the best-preserved historic centers in Tajikistan. Exploring the maze of streets and alleys is a trip David and I will take in the spring. This time, however, Sandra Jacobs (cultural affairs officer at the US embassy), Mahmud Naimov (cultural affairs assistant at the US embassy), and I visited a wood carving center and checked out the famed knife makers. But first Sandy and Mahmud had some work to take care of and I was able to check out a bread factory and find some children who entertained me near a mosque with a beautiful blue dome. All the photos were taken by me, except for the obvious one.
The bread stuck to the side of the window indicates that this is a local bread bakery.
Young worker in front of the oven.
Bread maker holding finished products while dough waiting to be shaped and baked sit on the shelf behind him.
These three children decided to entertain me as I tried to photograph the mosque dome. The girl in the pink scarf tried her hand at taking photos and took several of me and of the dome.
This is one of the photos she took of me with the two little ones.
Here's one of the photos I took of the mosque dome.
Three of the Yahyoev brothers are continuing the woodcarving tradition of their father. The national seal of Tajikistan is carved into a podium the Yahyoev brothers made for Tajikistan president.
While Mahmud was the one interested in seeing the local knives, it was Sandy and I who ended up buying them. Mine has a cow horn handle and Sandy's knife handle is made of walnut wood. They cost about $10 each. I am having trouble loading vertical photos, so I chose this one instead of the one of the knife maker.
While the roads in Khujand are snow and ice free, in the mountains where we were, there is a lot of snow and ice.