Yasir and I folded our legs (yes, even I had too) into the back seat of a yellow 1950’s jeep, with tents, cooking pots, sleeping bags and whatnot piled high around my ears, threatening to crush me. While peering out between the two fronts seats that contained Honey Man and Hungry Man, my eyes rested on half a peeled potato.
The canvas sides and top flapped in the wind as we slid our music angle (USB speakers) between the roof and the tiny piece of metal piping protecting my head if we roll. But even this thought or the music couldn’t disturb me from my view of the peeled potato.
Bumping down a road I’ve already driven along twice, I guess this time is different as I’ve swapped my motorcycle for this jeep and three other people and don’t forget half a peeled potato!
We are heading off on a weeklong adventure, up the Ghizer Valley, through Shandur Pass (where Michael and I turned back) and over to Chital, where we will visit two valleys which contain a small unique tribe called Kalash, and where they will hold a five day festival to celebrate the coming harvest. Along the way we plan to camp, fish and hike up to the start of the Gilgit River.
Dressed in our warmest clothes, shawls over our knees and even the close proximity to everyone couldn’t keep out the elements. The rain easily penetrates the side-less jeep. I know there was a lack of metal after world war two but plastic/canvas? Surely that wasn’t a problem. Next time please can I have some doors? Even my pet potato is starting to shrivel up.
We hadn’t travelled as far as we hoped and night was falling, so we stopped at a PTDC hotel for dinner. Things just seem to fall into place in Pakistan, and today wasn’t an exception. Yasir’s friend dropped off 25 small trout he caught earlier that day. With fish on the menu for dinner, my hopes were raised, just maybe, this is what the potato is for? But surely it wasn’t going to be enough for all of us?
After dinner we piled back into the jeep. As it folded itself around us and despite eating chips with our beautifully cooked trout, there sat the potato, just waiting for us.
Pulling into a PWD (Pakistan Works Department) Rest House for Government Officials, we all agreed we couldn’t bear the elements any longer. The tent can wait another night, let’s stay in semi luxury tonight and get a room. I couldn’t stand it any longer ‘Honey Man, what is that peeled potato for?’ As soon as I said it, Yasir and Hungry Man laughed, they too had been wondering this whole time. Yasir translated to Honey Man, chuckling he replied through Yasir ‘If you rub it on the windscreen, it helps the rain water runoff the windscreen faster’. Laughing, I realised this was going to be a great trip with amazing people and half a peeled potato.