Dirt, dust, sweat, crocodile skin, sunburned feet

“I had no shower for some days. Dirt, dust, sweat, crocodile skin, sunburned feet. This is what Tajikistan does to travelers. But it also rewards them with hot springs scattered randomly across the Pamirs.So I arrive in this tiny village from the Wakhan Valley where people have this ritual of bathing every Monday. Men with men, women with women. I stand at the door uncomfortably and don't know whether I should remove my clothes or not. All the women inside are naked, but I'm shy and don't know how to behave. One of the women, the one with the longest and darkest hair, takes my hand and gesticulates that I should undress. Then all the 6 women start to massage me, to wash me, to comb my hair. They do the same for each other, while I wash their kids.
so intimate, yet no words spoken.
I've been on the road for 10 months and wonder how easily strange becomes familiar and familiar becomes strange.”

text & image:
Maria, 26
June 2019