I wrote this post on Facebook after hearing of the terror incident in Tajikistan. I rode through there just a few weeks ago and had the pleasure of meeting two of the wonderful people who unfortunately were involved in this horrendous incident.
“Before leaving to cycle around the world, I was repeatedly told how dangerous it would be to ride solo through the countries I’d planned to. This speculation almost always seemed to emanate the loudest from those with little or no connection to the people or places they spoke so strongly about. After 6 months of cycling on my own, I haven’t once felt unsafe. Instead I was plunged into a friendly world where I would be left alone to look after strangers kids, invited in for Ramadan celebrations or at the very least, offered a cup of tea and a friendly chat every couple of minutes. The world is not a bad place.
However, before setting off I was confident this would be the case, confident because I had read so many books, blogs and Instagram posts from those adventurous souls who had travelled before me. Two of those souls were Jay and Lauren, I eagerly followed their incredible world cycle for many months. Their pictures of adventuring through Africa would warm me through the screen, as I battled through freezing temperatures in eastern Europe. It was then a crazy experience for me to find out they’d flown from Turkey to Kazakhstan, and even more so to then bump into them whilst cycling through Tajikistan on the Pamir Highway. We stopped like most cyclists do, getting stuck into a proper chin wag. Although this wasn’t just your normal conversation, these two were so upbeat and vibrant that afterwards we began talking through comments on Instagram about some of the things we had seen on our travels until a few days ago.
It was then, just truly heart breaking to find out this morning that they were killed yesterday, in what now appears to be a terrorist incident, just further along that very road we met.
Ask any of the hundreds of cyclists riding through that region and they will all tell you of the warmth of the Tajik people to travellers. Kids shouting ‘hello’, melee’s of hi-fives when passing through every village and elderly people, happy to house a stranger for the night, asking just the price of conversation and a smile. I found this out myself, being looked after by a complete stranger for two days – with whom I shared no common language – after becoming violently ill in the mountains. I’m sure, given the severity of this situation, the news will depict the Tajik’s in a terrible light.
The world isn’t a bad place. Although, right now I realise that doesn’t even begin to heal the wounds of their close friends and family. To those people, my heart really goes out to you. On behalf of the cycling community, I can only offer a deepest condolence. Today is a very sad day.