We packed our bags and mustered at the van at 5 am, to be told that the departure had changed to 8 am because of security issues at Obey ( alt: Awbeh). We’re deeply sceptical because Weasel Face (our name for the shifty secret police officer we had to deal with yesterday) had objected to the early start last night, so we suspected he was still in bed.
We were given a minder (the English speaking Corporal from yesterday) and let loose in town. Our man served with the Americans for 2 years and appeared to enjoy western company. He was married at 13 (his wife was 12) and they have 2 children. He only spent one month at a time in Chisht because the men are rotated regularly between bases to stop them getting “turned by the locals”.
We had breakfast at the lousy chaikana and then walked around town. The locals are terrified of the police, so no one came anywhere near us. The plus side of this hiccup is that we now had time to explore the wonderful 12th century Sufi tombs, two of the finest Ghorid buildings in the country. One has been so heavily over restored that it’s ruined.
The graveyard was extensive, dotted amongst pine trees, flowers and wandering shepherd boys. We weren’t allowed into the mosque (we’re infidels), so we walked in the peaceful gardens laid out with running water and beautifully inscribed headstones.
G bought a hand-made embroidered shirt from the local tailor near the police barracks. He’d agreed to pay the man 800 Afghani but the Corporal turned up in the shop as they were completing the transaction and the price shot up to 4,000. The shirt was lovely and well worth the higher price.
We posed for photos with the police in the ruins of the Soviet nightclub beside the police barracks, and I was particularly taken with a large, battle scarred individual bristling with ammunition clips for his AK47 as he was eager for lots of strong man poses.
We were allowed to leave at 8am, followed by the police escort consisting of a truck with a mounted machine gun and 3 armed men. After 45 minutes they made us park on top of a hill overlooking a village (very exposed) and we waited there for an hour and a half before we found out that they had supposed to radio down to Obey police to meet us but their radio wasn’t working so they’d decided to sit it out and wait to see what would happen. G made one of them use his mobile phone instead and we were told to progress to Obey. Our escort abandoned us at the outskirts.