At 4,655 meters (15,270 feet) The Pamir Highway is the second highest highway in the world, and is where we spent 2 weeks of our travels through Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Our road trip through this volatile land was intrepid, exciting and filled with history and nature.
Around day 10 of the trip, we left the little village of Langar in the Wakhan Valley. We had huge smiles on our faces and were thinking back fondly of our two nights there. Our time in the mountainous village learning the traditional farming methods and visiting ancient petroglyphs carved into rock was very memorable.
We were abruptly brought back to reality from our daydreams as 4 wild-eyed men jumped in front of our jeep yelling and violently waving their arms. We were being attacked, these men were there to rob us, or so we assumed.
We all clutched our backpacks and scrambled to hide our money. Nurali, our driver/guide, did as the strangers suggested and pulled over. After speaking to the men, Nurali informed us that we were invited in for lunch.
The four of us white-skinned travellers looked skeptically at the group of men outside of the jeep. Our big backpacks and provisions were all strapped to the roof of the jeep, which meant that while we were having lunch, these men could easily snatch our belongings.
But, we decided to have faith and grabbed our small backpacks containing our valuables and headed off with these strangers.
We were shown to a small wooden door, which led to an open yard filled with people and vats of food boiling over on open fires.
Nurali explained that these people are of the Ismaili faith and Thursday is their day of prayer. In order to celebrate this special day of the week, the community was putting on a free lunch!
We finally breathed a sigh of relief and knew that these people weren’t out to steal from us, in fact, they were doing quite the opposite. We all sat around on the ground and waited for the lunch to be served. Groups of people sat everywhere and were all very welcoming of us foreigners.
I went to check out what was on the menu for lunch and as I peeked inside the bubbling vat of mystery meat I became all too aware that we were about to feed on goat! Not only do I love goats and not want to eat them, but I really don’t like the way the meat tastes. The men tending the stew, took a huge wooden ladle and slopped a bunch of the liquid and meat into a big metal bowl, which was the portion for our group.
We all sat around on the ground with a couple of other locals and while I stared at this bowl of brown liquid and bits of goat, an uneasy feeling crept over me. I had to eat some of it, or it would be rude, wouldn’t it? Jess, one of the travellers we were with was a vegetarian, and for that day, I decided that I would be one too.
But not Nick!
He got in there with his hands and was gnawing on the bones as if he hadn’t eaten in weeks. Which was partially true, as we hadn’t eaten any meat in quite a while. The men sitting with us were truly impressed at his appetite for goat and kept offering him the “special” pieces of meat. Even though I thought the little wooden spoons were quite cute, I couldn’t bring myself to eat any stew!
After poking around the pot for bits of meat and slurping down the juice, we graciously thanked our hosts by using some hand-motions, and took some photos together. We hopped back in the jeep, where our backpacks were waiting for us, and continued our epic road trip along the Pamir Highway.
Meeting these villagers and having lunch with them was one of the most spontaneous things that has happened to us during our travels, and even though I’m not partial to random bucket meat, I was very grateful for the experience and for the villager’s generosity. This day was one of the many reasons why travelling on the Pamir Highway was a highlight of our trip through Central Asia, and of all our travels.
Nick and Dariece are the couple behind Goats On The Road, a website designed to inspire others to live a financially sustainable, location independent lifestyle. Masters at making money abroad and turning their travels into a way of life, they’ve been on the road since 2008 and have explored some of the least visited places on earth, finding adventure wherever they go. They’re also full time contributors at Travel Pulse and Credit Walk where they share their stories and expertise of long-term travel. Check them out at Goats On The Road and follow them on Twitter, Facebook & Google+