Still alive. Getting fat on all this amazing Afghan food. We all eat sitting on th floor with masses of bread, rice and lots of dishes. Glad I didn't go to Egypt hey. lol
Balkh, were we went yesterday, is possibly my favourite place so far in the North.
Also known as Bactria, it is one of the oldest cities in the world and claims a long list of famous events. It is the home of the ancient religion Zoroastrianism, birthplace of the Sufi Poet Rumi and where Alexander the Great met his wife and lover Roxanne. Pretty impressive really. But what is even more amazing is that no professional archeologists have ever been able to work there, so you literally feel like your the first people to walk around the site. Ancient artifacts are strewn all over and you don't need to dig to find the brightly coloured shards of pottery, probably dating to the 1500 centruary, which are found all around. I picked up a few and maybe i'll make them into something one day. It was magical walking up on the old walls of the city and seeing sheep being hearded across the ruins.
Today is Friday and the holiest day of the week for Muslims. A day off and time for a well earned break, no? What better way to spend the holy day then with a game of Goat Pulling (Boz Kashi)? The popular Uzbeck game is a violent and bloody adaptation of polo. As far as I could work out, there are no teams and everyone is out for themselves. The players ride their elaborately decorated horses at high speeds, bend down and pluck up the carcass of a dead goat from one end of the pitch and try to drop it in a specific circle at the other end. If they do they recieve 100 dollars!
Although its completely against Islam there is a lot of gambelling that goes on. The police warned us to stay well away from the crowds as they sometimes become violent. When they all rush together on their horses you cant see much and they are all hitting each other with whips. These guys have amazing control on their horses. I was so impressed to see a 5 year old child riding a huge horse one handed.
Then the snow really started to come down. It might mean we can't get out of here to Herat tomorrow but will have to see.