I didn’t know anything about Northern Pakistan. I didn’t know anything about anything Pakistan, really. And without actually going there, the misinformation many people get is some conservative Taliban-ridden country landlocked between Afghani terrorism and nuclear war threats with India. Luckily enough, I don’t dig that kind of news, so I stepped in with an open heart and open arms, ready to experience this thrilling new land first-hand.
In my arms came nothing less than paradise. The scenery, the people, the religion, the vibration in the air… every facet – paradise. I made my way from China through Khunjerab Pass – the highest international border crossing in the world – down to Hunza Valley, a place renowned for its peace-loving Ismaelis, so caring they wouldn’t hurt an ant, I swear! I fell in love with Hunza and stayed 2 months in one village – that’s as long as my visa would let me. Yes, the bureaucratic clock is ticking and I’m counting my precious days in this blessed land, how long can I settle down and how long do I need to walk the remainder of my way to India. So that led me to the current city of Gilgit, which I’ll have to leave quite soon as well.
So 3 months it’s been, a hundred villages, a thousand gleaming faces and even more cups of chai… yet it’s still paradise. Having camped all over the place, climbed all kinds of mountains, met people from every social class, background, and religious group, I now confirm with fervent conviction: the people are good! Nothing but good! Masha’allah!