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October 31, 2002

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Happy Halloween in Tajikistan. We masquerade as Tajiks and that means wearing colorful velvet robes and scarves. We were hoping to see a buzkashi match, a rough form of polo played with a headless goat carcass. 'Titleist' is spray painted on the side of the goat; they outbid all other sponsors for the honor. No buzkashi matches scheduled, instead we had lunch with local NGO's who tell us their stories about working in a developing country. Before coming we heard so many negative things about Tajikistan, mainly related to how unsafe the country could be for foreigners. It scared us enough to look into hiring a driver and guide. This turned out to be an expensive proposition, a little over $300 per day, so we decided to go independently. Good thing we did. Tajikistan turned out fine, we didn't feel threatened, and traveling on public transport only costs a few bucks per day.
Hard to believe that anybody can look strange in this crowd but we always draw stares.
Always searching for superlatives, we find Central Asia's largest reclining Buddha in Dushanbe.
Breaking into the aid worker scene, a lunch with volunteers from Britain, Russia, and Iran.