April 22, 2019
I have had a long-standing dream that entails traveling from Pakistan to Afghanistan to Turkmenistan and then across the Caspian Sea into Azerbaijan. Not the easiest places to travel in, and therein lies part of the attraction. But also not the easiest to get visas. But mulish stubbornness is a trait I come by honestly, and the first inkling that this may just happen is the Pakistan visa that I got a couple of weeks ago, after haranguing consulate staff and pestering the rest for a couple of years. Let’s just say it was a work in progress. But success at long last, and just in time.
Shivers of excitement run up my spine every now and then. Every so often I skip a little when walking and a goofy grin spreads across my face at the very thought of this summer. This may, just may be happening this year. Woo hoo! Lots to plan yet and lots to do before I leave at the end of May. Not to mention a seemingly insurmountable work load that needs to get done before I leave. But, it will get done and soon I will be off. It may be that I manage all of this dream or it may be parts….time will tell. Stay tuned.
Click links below for stories from each country.
June 26, 2019
Visa extension that is routine for many nationalities is apparently not on the cards for me. From Lahore to Islamabad to multiple trips to the Directorate of Visas and the Ministry of Interior, it has all come to nothing. On the other hand, I can now give guided tours to the Secretariat and the Immigration and Visa departments, so many times have I been there. I suppose I should not complain. It took me the better part of a couple of years to get this visa in the first place; anything else is simply icing on the cake.
For now, it is onto Afghanistan. Excitement and trepidation march through me in equal measure. Not quite sure what to expect, I will just have to go and see. I cannot wait to do so!
I have changed the names of people written about in the stories in Afghanistan chapter.
July 12, 2019
My original hare-brained scheme had been to cross from Afghanistan to Turkmenistan by land but the finicky Turkmenistan visa proved elusive. I figured Herat would be the place to do some fact-finding and had even found someone who lived in Torghundi. Yes, the border is open for Afghans and Turkmens he told me, but the road unsafe. He wasn’t sure if the border was open for foreigners. It is just as well, since I have no visa. So here I am in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Word on the traveler grapevine is that the Turkmenistan embassy in Tashkent has lately been more productive than others.
Application for a transit visa completed, fingers and toes crossed, I now have to cool my heels for a couple of weeks. Certainly no hardship in Uzbekistan; I plan to re-visit some of the favorite places. And hope to uncross my fingers to good news.