Looking over the Bamyan Valley in the early fresh morning, watching the mist sail past the empty Buddha niches, almost exploring them before moving on, sends a feeling of absolute completeness over me. To feel complete is something that we all strive for. In love, work, experiences and dreams. So I savour this moment, as who knows when it may disappear.
Bamyan is a magical place, one which I will never forget. There I felt far away from congested Kabul, far away from the breaking news stories of how the ‘war on terror’ is or, in most cases, isn’t progressing. The Afghanistan in Bamyan is another world. It is peaceful, clean and rich in the history that binds the people together.
Two and a half hours west of the Buddhas lies Band-e-Amir ‘The Commandar’s Dam’. Before coming to Afghanistan I had heard so many stories about this place from friends who tried to describe to me the beauty of these six lakes. I must confess, they failed! Because as we approached the site, the first glimpse of deep lapis lazuli coloured water glittering in the sun literally took my breath away.
Band-e-Amir on a Friday is full of Afghan families picnicing under the waterfalls that surround the lakes. Some take advantage of its so-called magical powers and bathe in the icy water, in the hope that they will be cured of their diseases. Women walk along enjoying the cool sensation offered to them by dipping their feet playfully along the shoreline. Boys make fools of themselves trying to impress each other with tricks in the water.
After a feast of tender meat and potatoes, cooked in a portable pressure cooker, eastern by the side of a spectacular waterfall, me and my Afghan friends set on our way to walk around the lakes. To my delight, after Band-e-Haibat (the largest of the six lakes) we came across some smaller lakes, which were almost private pools made secret by surrounding foliage. Here the water was warmer and much more inviting. The temptation to strip off and plunge into the pool was overwhelming, but in front of my Afghan colleagues I thought I should retain a hint of decency.
So, I promised myself I would come back to this spot and fulfil that desire.