Istalif village in Afghanistan is high up in the mountains, and surrounded by pleasant lands. It’s also rather famous for its colourful and somewhat rustic pottery. I bought a few pieces of pottery here 10 years ago. The people then were very happy to have their photos taken and to show-off their pottery. The village itself has been through quite a few traumas over the years, and its heritage and livelihood are at risk. Construction and security can certainly help, but it needs visitors, or a way to get its pottery to a wider market. Here, a young lad took me into his store and was very keen to show me the brightly coloured ceramics.
I had an awesome time in 2006 travelling around in the heat of the Atacama Desert and the coldness of Patagonia. A visit to Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego, Argentina), and the surrounding areas, brought home the remoteness and harshness of Patagonia. It was in Ushuaia that I became aware of ships heading to the Antarctic, and I’d made a mental note to someday visit the Antarctic. In 2007, I’d made that note a reality by embarking from Ushuaia to the Antarctic across the Drake Passage. But in the meantime, I was discovering delights such as that shown in this photo of Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse in the Beagle Channel near Ushuaia.
The ancient Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan, 2009. It does have a significant lean but there have been efforts to stabilise the tower. This quote from the Lonely Planet Afghanistan Travel Guide (1st Edition, published 2007) is what really got me interested in going to Afghanistan…
Crossing the centre of the country along the spine of the Hindu Kush is one of the most remote and adventurous journeys it’s possible to do in Afghanistan, but one that rewards travellers with a continuous parade of stunning mountain scenery. Travelling from Bamiyan, the route travels through the Hazarajat over a series of high mountain passes to the heart of the medieval Ghorid empire. This is a land of tiny villages, marginal agriculture, and nomad caravans with their camels and yurts. At its centre lies the fabled Minaret of Jam, hidden from foreign eyes for centuries, and even now is accessible to only the hardiest travellers.
We had already journeyed through the sandy deserts of southern Namibia using our overland truck, and we were now heading up north. Along the way, we stayed overnight at Spitzkoppe. This is where we set up camp. Except some of us didn’t use a tent; I slept out on a rocky outcrop and watched the clear night sky before nodding off to sleep.
Our tripods, a gaggle of which are already standing to attention, were essential to taking night sky photographs.
I was very satisfied with the photos I took that night.