Playing the waiting game…

So, here we are, in Khaplu, for three days now.  Just beyond town is the Army checkpoint signalling the beginning of SANY0263the Closed Zone.  It’s 80 km up to Kondus and the Granite Towers of our Dreams.  We secured the Special Permit a month ago to allow us into the Kondus Valley.  Three days ago we loaded up the trucks and stopped at Zafar’s father’ house on the way out of town.  Mohammed Iqbal is a local paliamentarian and is very respected by his constituency.  The father and son Iqbal team at Baltistan Tours have been doing a great job.  Mohammed called the new local brigade commander for the region concerning our access to the closed zone.  The bridage commander’s exact words were “Not even the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan is coming in here.”  So it doesn’t sound good.  The Iqbal’s have since spent hours on the phone with the Ministry of Tourism trying to clear up lines of communication in hopes that they will honor our Special Permit, which was authorized by the Army in late June.  Today, inshallah, we will be allowed in.  Inshallah means ‘God Willing’ and is used in 50% of all complete sentences in Pakistan.  The 100% Muslim society here is amazing, from the mandatory prayers 5 times a day to the women covered completely in burkhas.

So we have spent the past three days drinking lots of tea, doing some bouldering and scrambing, and enjoying the locals sites.  These mountain valleys are amazing, not only for the massive rock and ice peaks towering above, but also for the massive dusty brown valley bottoms that blossom with pockets of rich green hillsides due to thousands of years of ingenious irrigation and terracing.  If these Baltis can do one thing, it’s rock stacking.  Rockes are stacked into walls, aqueducts, houses, nice square piles, houses on top of walls, walls on top of houses, etc.  Yesterday we visited the small SANY0274village of Thalay Dalter.  This small village is off the trekking routes and has not seen much aid.  Zafar’s friend Ahmed is the president of the village.  He and Mohammed Hussein, another education committee member gave us a tour of their small English basis primary education school.  It has 90 students (50 girls and 40 boys) grades 1 to 5 in a single small room.  The students that can’t fit inside spill out into the adgacent fields.  They had all the students line up for us and gave us a tour.  The kids were very shy but did their best to give us a little interview.  The committee feels that the most important need for Thalay now is a new school building for these students.  Clint and I promised to do our best to secure grants for their project.  After visiting the school we were treated to a wonderful lunch of homemade bread, butter, yogurt, curried potatoes and peas, and of course tea.

So today we plan to wait until 3 pm to see if the Ministry of Tourism gets us access into the Kondus.  If not, we will change plans and instead head up to the Hushe and Nangma Valleys which are in the open zone.  The worst part about it is that Kaphlu has amazing views of the Forbidden Towers just beyond the Army checkpoint.  Our cook and Liason Officer Mr Karim is from Hushe so that should be a good contact for potential shelter-building in that zone.  We still hope for access into the Kondus Valley, just one ridgeline away from the Indian forces on the Siachen Glacier.   Inshallah…

pakistan-towers

3 responses to “Playing the waiting game…”

  1. Brooke Thomas

    I love reading your updates… it sounds incredible!! We all are thinking of you!!

    Much love,

    Brooke

  2. Mom

    Hope you get all the details worked out. Stay safe and have a fabulous time.
    Love,
    Mom

  3. Mom

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I hope you having a great time on your birthday!
    Love you,
    Mom

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