Not too long ago I was asked to participate in a contest sponsored by the French Tourism Office of Martinique. The idea was to have 25 bloggers write a 500-word story about their “most exciting, astonishing, funny, special holiday experience.” Once I confirmed that they wanted a story about my vacation and not my favorite Casamir Pulaski Day celebration I agreed to participate. My tan from Africa has faded now, why not win an all-inclusive trip to Martinique?
Writing only 500 words is not easy and my first attempt, about traveling overland from Ethiopia to Kenya, was closer to 2,000 words. I realized that the story would have to be about one small, but interesting, thing that happened to me on the road. My final story turned out to be about my time spent with Gulnara in Khorog, Tajikistan. Gulnara owned the house we stayed in and took pleasure in taking care of us. Not only did she feed us three meals a day but she stuffed our bags full of pears to bribe the guards along the Pamir Highway. And when Dan and Vincent, my fellow travelers, left to do errands she seized the opportunity to dye my eyebrows and wash my hair.
As an added bonus to my faithful readers who’ve been waiting for more than a year for me to write about Tajikistan I’ve added the photos above. The first photo is taken in Gulnara’s front yard where you can see the small creek I tried to wash my hair in. The second photo is the one everyone’s requested—my eyebrows being dyed by Gulnara. The final photo is of the inside of the main room of Gulnara’s house. The family slept in the kitchen and left this room all to us. While I was sitting on the raised platform all I could think about is the episode of Seinfeld where Kramer converts his apartment to “levels.”
The contest runs until February 28th and I need all of the votes I can get. As I suspected, this is a popularity contest and the person who wins will be the person who rallies the most support. I’m competing against a few bloggers with a large daily readership of sites that focus on celebrities and sensationalist news. Despite that, some of the stories on there are interesting and you may find another worthwhile travel blog to follow if you poke around the submissions.
To vote for my story, Spa Day in Tajikistan, go to this page and look for my story. The order of the stories randomly rotate so I can’t tell you which of the five pages it appears on. However, as long as it remains one of the highest vote-getters it appears on the right hand side of the page in the “best of” sidebar. If you need a little extra incentive to participate one voter will also be rewarded a trip to Martinique. Please feel free to pass this link along to anyone who may be interested—I appreciate all of the support you can give me! I have already posted to a number of travel forums but welcome any blog mentions or Facebook notes you can manage.