First let me say thanks to everyone who prayed for me and my friends as we traveled to the tip of the little finger of Afghanistan (where China, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan meet). I personally felt God’s presence and protection. Our goal was to repair one of our airplanes that crashed when attempting to make the first landing at a brand new airstrip. Unfortunately, we were not able to completely repair it onsite. But we learned a lot, and hope to return in March and finish the repairs. Below is a listing of trip highlights, ending with a link to some of my pictures.
- Drove 16hrs from Dushanbe to Khorog. Slept from 2am to 6am. Then drove 3 more hours to Eskoshem, Afg.
- Crossed the border. Given a ride to town by a group of Ismaili Muslims. They also helped us find a guest house. Great people!
- Met with our Afghan team that evening and planned the next day.
- Drove 10 hrs along the Wakhan valley, taking turns driving. The Land Cruiser fell of the side of the road at a sharp turn. The truck was ok (balancing on a rock on its front bumper) and no one was hurt. If it had rolled, the 300 kilos on the roof and the 500 kilos in the back would have crushed us. Thank you God for your protection. We built up rocks underneath to support it. Then Mark and Raeemalah hiked ahead to a village to find shelter. Dan and I stayed with the vehicle to wait and pray for help. We had heard from a shepard that some Komaz trucks were coming through the valley with a load of yaks. We were hoping one of the trucks would have a steel cable and could pull us out backwards. We had a winch on the front but it was useless because we could not go forwards. The first two trucks came as the sun was setting, but they had no cables. They had to dig away part of the mountain to get past us. The last two trucks had a cable and pulled us out. It was late and dark but we found our friends in a village about 5km down the road. I slept well that night.
- Next day we drove the last hour to where the airplane was. Wow. There was alot more snow than we expected. Too much snow to take off in. The wind was also blowing strong, and in the wrong direction. These were two strikes against us. However, we decided to work on the nose gear anyway. We discovered cracked and bent nose gear mounting bolts. We would have to remove the bolts by cutting them. We needed to use our air powered die grinder. However, we could not get our generator started to run the compressor. We tried for over two hours. We were getting spark, air, and fuel. The mixture just wasn’t right though. Something was wrong with the carbuerator. This was our third strike. We decided it was best to secure/prepare the aircraft for winter and come back in the spring. Our new Kodiak should be operational then. It could fly us directly to the strip and support the repair better.
- Met with the village elders and negotiated the fee for someone to watch over the airplane during the winter. I enjoyed talking with two of the local boys. They were in grade 5 and 6 at a Greg Mortenson school. I got a lot of Dari langage practice today.
- Left the following day, driving 10 hrs back to Eskoshem. The truck stalled 3 times. Water in the fuel. Water seperator clogged. Dan had to clean it out several times. But no accidents this time. We actually helped pull a stuck truck out of a river with our front winch. I enjoyed driving my stretch. I feel very confident driving off road now. Dan is an excellent instructor.
- Stayed at the Wahi guest house again. Great place!
- Crossed back into Tajikistan. The Afghan customs guy really wanted Mark’s sunglasses. We ended up having to pay a $20 registration fee instead. Mark wasn’t about to give away his $100 Rayban’s. I don’t blame him.
- Some young Russian mafia types gave us a ride back to Khorog. It was quite an experience.
- In Khorog, we hired a Pamirian to take us back to Dushanbe. Our final, 19hr, bone jarring ride. Picked up an old man trying to get to Dushanbe. I enjoyed speaking Dari with him.
- Saw my beautiful family again! Thank you God!
Enjoy the pictures! Click Here to see them