Tajikstan

Tajikstan

Early in the morning we left Samarkand for a trip to Penjikent, founded in the 5th century.  Crossing the border into Takikstan was slow, involving one border crossing and then walking the dusty path through no-man’s-land to the next border..  In Penjikent we visited the archaeoligical digs of the remains of the ancient site of Shakristan, two Zorastrian temples, the citadel fortress and the ruins of an ancient city visited by Alexander the Great.  Here he married Roxanna who supposedly came from Tajikistan.  We learned about the Sogdians and their dominance of the Silk Road.  Our Tajik guide described the 1979 bus that took us from the border into the town as a little better than waterboarding.  The only toilets were Asian – a small round hole level with the ground.  Following a lunch of horse pilaf, soup, cucumbers, tomatoes and melon at a local official’s home we visited the Rudaki Museum, named after the celebrated writer of Tajik and Persian poetry.  Here I learned a bit of Asian philosophy furnished by the guide.  “It is easier to float with the clouds in the sky or spend 100 years in prison than to speak with a stupid person.”
No one spoke English as we visited the market.  I sampled fruit, chocolates and many varieties of honey.  The vendor asked where I was from.  I replied, “Texas.”   His face went blank.  At last I had traveled so far that someone had never heard of Texas.  It was a defining moment.