The Compass Edge

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thecompassedge.net is a web project maintained by Brian Jones to log his and others' experiences while traveling to and working in regions off the standard travel map.


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To contact Brian write to brian@thecompassedge.net


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there are plenty more photos on this site. please browse the archives
  • August 2004
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  • Fatima

    Posted by Brian Jones, Tuesday, May 25, 2004

    Fatima (24k image)

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    Khudabash

    Posted by Brian Jones, Tuesday, May 25, 2004

    Khudabash (30k image)

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    Shy smiles

    Posted by Brian Jones, Tuesday, May 25, 2004

    Shysmiles (35k image).

    These two were watching a livestock checking session and were shy but delighted when the camera was turned on them

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    Mohammed Khan

    Posted by Brian Jones, Tuesday, May 25, 2004

    worker (26k image)

    Mohammed Khan is a worker on one of the Cash for Work programs being run in the area. He is currently helping to build a water reservoir for his village that will store water that can be used later in the summer for irrigating the wheat and vegetable crop. He says that he is too poor to leave the area in search of work and has to support his wife and 4 children with what little he can.

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    Maryam and Jamila

    Posted by Brian Jones, Tuesday, May 25, 2004

    womnchild (32k image)

    Maryam is 22 and has 3 children of which Jamila is the youngest. Her husband is away in Iran at the moment trying to make some money for the family.

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    Smiles

    Posted by Brian Jones, Tuesday, May 25, 2004

    smile (24k image)

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    A house in the hills

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    houseinhills (38k image)

    It's always a surprise to come across a house seemingly built into the bare hillside without an inch of green around. However, there will be a spring or well nearby and the fields are in walking distance and the pasture further up the mountain is tempting if you are of the goat or sheep persuasion.

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    Plowing with oxen

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    plowing (40k image)

    This is a very familiar sight in the area. Oxen are used to plow the fields both before and after planting. The oxen in the picture have their mouths covered to stop them snatching a snack as they work.

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    Womens discussion group

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    Womensgroup (41k image)

    The women in the picture are holding up embroidered wraps that they have done, which they hope to sell in the market. The women of Hazarajat are very much more liberated than the majority of women in Afghanistan and meetings were often very jokey and open.

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    Poppy

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    poppy (52k image)

    Much is talked about the growing of opium poppy in Afghanistan. The picture is of young poppy plants being tended by the faithful. However, in much of the central highlands, poppy is not a traditional crop and was decimated by disease last year. Consequently there appears to be very much less this year.

    It's strange though because whatevery your thoughts on the growing of the stuff you cant deny that it makes total sense for a poor farmer..............which is wherein lies the difficulty........

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    Women weeding in a wheat field

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    weeding1 (16k image)

    This is a pretty common site in the area. Blue cloaked women sit in green wheat fields and and pull up the weeds, often hiding their faces as we pass.

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    The shop

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    shop (43k image)

    Shops are a delight. They are full of every possible commodity that you could imagine and when I say full I mean FULL, as in stuffed. It's great to just sit and take the inevitable cup of tea and just browse and watch people come in and buy a waistcoat or a spare part for their bicyle or wool or any other of the huge range of goods.

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    Abdul Samad

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    engineer (35k image)

    This fine gentleman is an engineer who gives useful technical support to communities in the field.

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    Sheep are strange things

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    Sheepbreak (46k image)

    I guess that we all know that sheep are a bit strange but they seem to do pretty well here. These are of the 'fat tailed' variety which are very resistant to water stress. Here they are taking a lunch break and as a friend remarked 'they spend all day eating but rest during the time that we are eating our lunch'. As I said, they are strange animals :-)

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    Snow cave

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    Snowcave (48k image)

    The central Highland region is cut off by snow and incredibly hard winters for at least 3 months of every year. The snow is critical to the replenishment of the all important ground water sources and a successful year is measured not so much in how much rain but in how much snow there has been.

    This was a lump of snow that had still not melted and water had carved out the inside leaving a glimering snow cave that was at odds with the seemingly desolate and dry environment outside.

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    Picnic on the roof of the world

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    picnic (41k image)

    We had been driving for hours and had been climbing impossibly steep roads for the past hour, only to emerge at the roof of the world with a panoramic view of mountains stretching off into the distance all around us.

    The perfection of the place decided us and stopping we spread ourselves on the ground and ate a lunch of boiled eggs and fried potatos and felt like kings.

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    Girl and brother

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    Girlnbro (41k image)

    She stood watching us as we talked to some shepherds, all the time blowing impressively large bubblegum fueled bubbles which popped with an evidently satisfying crack. The problem was that she would NOT blow a bubble for the camera, which I guess is ok.

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    boy with a drink

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    boyndrink (8k image)

    This is Ali Shah, and at the tender age of almost three he enjoys nothing more than sitting down with a drink of orange and watching the world go by.

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    Boy and blanket

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    boynblanket1 (16k image)

    This fella stood and watched us thoughtfully as we walked by, secure in the knowledge that he had his blanket with him :-)

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    Little person

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    littleperson (40k image)

    Afghanistan seems to be filled with little people :-) This girl squatted and watched us as we collected water from a hand dug. We did fill her water pot for her.

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    Hajji Mohammed

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    HjMhd (35k image)

    Hajji Mohammed was a wealth of information about all sorts of things pertaining to village life and vulnerability in his area of Hazarajat.

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    Discussion group

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    Grpmeet (62k image)

    This is a group of men working on a protection wall for an area that has been very heavily erroded by the seasonal flooding of the local river. The discussion took place over a period of 2 hours and covered the perception that people hold of Cash for Work, particularly in relation to other forms of Food programming such as Food for Work. It became very apparent that people greatly appreciated the flexibility of Cash for Work and most importantly took it far more seriously as a mode of employment than other forms of programming.

    The discussion was a good opportunity for people to reflect on their work and feed back their thoughts, all done sitting in a circle on the river bank drinking endless cups of green tea and little boiled sweets.

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    A place to sleep

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    Bedroom (24k image)

    I was lucky to stay in an incredible variety of accomodation, all of it built from the mud brick that is so common in the area. Some of the places were very grand and overlooked green valleys and high mountains.

    In the evening, after a long day of community discussions we would roll out blankets and sleep blissfully on the mattresses you can see in the photo.

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    View from behind glass

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    windowview (21k image)

    This was the view of a girl looking in to where we were sitting in a tea house.

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    Imdad

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    Imdad (27k image)

    This is another smiling face we came across on the road. Imdad is a tenant farmer in the Hazara region of Afghanistan. He gets a quarter of the crops he grows with the remainder going to his landlord. He owns 23 sheep, which his young son tends high up in the mountains.

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    Boys on the road

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    3boys (26k image)

    These three guys greeted us on the road with huge smiles.

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    Hands at lunch

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    Handsatlunch (29k image)

    All roads, however long, benefit from a break for food. After some hours on the road we stopped in a village to eat and were treated to a feast of kebab, soup and bread. Much of the eating in Afghanistan is shared from communal plates and here two people enjoy a bowl of meat stew with the ubiquitous Afghan 'long' bread that accompanies each meal.

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    Kamaz truck

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    kamaz (25k image)

    A common sight across Afghanistan, the Kamaz truck is a relic of the soviet past. It is known as a '6 feet' because of its six tires, which seem to carry them, fully laden, over the most incredibly poor and steep roads. They bring an incredible variety of goods to the most out of the way areas in the country and are the tool with which markets are able to continue to function and match supply and demand.

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    Travel is not easy

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    Transport (44k image)

    Most of the travel around Afghanistan is by 4x4. Around Kabul some of the roads are metalled but by and large the driving is on potholled, dirt roads.

    I travelled recently from Kabul to Panjao in Hazarajat and the journey took almost 12 hours of driving.

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    Donkey stop

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    donkeyville (39k image)

    This is a typical scene. A group of donkeys waits patiently outside a small, mud brick house used as a house, an office and a shop.

    Donkeys are used all over Afghanistan for transporting goods and people to and from market.

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    Afghan mountains

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    Afghanmountains (24k image)

    The Afghan mountains. Vast, remote, brooding and indescribably majestic. They dominate everthing and exert untold forces on the social and economic life of Afghans.

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    Road through the mountains

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    Mountainroad (30k image)

    Travelling through Afghanistan is an extraordinary experience. The area is so mountainous that any journey, particularly in the central region, will take you through narrow valleys and over precipitous mountain passes.

    The place is majestically beautiful being both bleak and rugged with areas of intense greeness and fertility. Settlements rely on ground water sources and its not uncommon to find areas of green high up on an otherwise barren mountain side, where a spring errupts and provides a little haven of agricultural potential.

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    Ex Ministry of defence

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    kabuldestruct (35k image)

    This once stately and oppulent building has been at the receiving end of 'enemy fire' from a variety of sources. It was clearly a remarkable structure.

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    View over Kabul

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    kabul (39k image)

    Kabul is in a bowl, surrounded by mountains. Much of the city has been destroyed in the years of fighting that it has suffered, but it is possible to get a sense of the opulence and style that once made it so famous.

    Houses carpet the area, marching up the impossible slopes of the mountains to perch precariously overlooking the city below.

    Now it seems to be a city of walls and fences as the international community baricades itself within seemingly impregnable fortresses. Whilst the city remains calm there is a tangible sense of unease in some quarters, however expat life goes on through a series of restaurants that offer everything from pork sausages to German beer. Odd.

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    The Intercontinental Hotel Kabul

    Posted by Brian Jones, Monday, May 24, 2004

    Hotelinter (43k image)

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    Afghanistan

    Posted by Brian Jones, Thursday, May 20, 2004

    I left Pakistan at the beginning of the month to come to Afghanistan where I've been looking at a series of Cash for Work programs in the central Highlands region called Hazarajat. The area is extraordinary by any standards with monstrous mountains that tower above narrow valleys and tiny villages that eke a living from a mixture of rainfed/irrigated agriculture and livestock...............oh and of course poppy.

    It took 12 hours to drive here from Kabul and a typical day involves a journey of 5-6 hours in a car to a point where we can walk to a village far up a distant side valley. The villages are bleak but beautiful and somehow familiar. The people I've encountered have been fantastic, full of warmth and welcome and I look back with considerable pleasure at the encounteres I've had.

    I will try to post some photographs of the area in the next days.....................

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