27th March 2019
a sense of welling grief
i timed my trip in kyrgyzstan so that i’d spend the last few days trekking near the tajikistan border. as i made it south i discovered there was to be a yak and horse games festival exactly where i wanted to go to in tulparkul. i arrived a day early to a quiet, isolated yurt camp and walked around the lakes and mountains. the place was transformed the following day as hundreds of locals and a smattering of tourists descended upon the camp from miles around. market stalls opened up selling food and rugs, costumed kids rehearsed their performances as some local musicians set the scene as a prelude to the main event. it was a really joyful atmosphere, you could tell the families from the neighbouring villages had been really looking forward to this celebration and were making the most of it. unfortunately around lunchtime events took a tragic turn. kids were playing all around the festival, which was in this green, hilly landscape pockmarked by little freshwater lakes. one of the local kids went to swim in one of these lakes, but found the water too powerful, and was sucked under. word spread around and people started moving away from the performance area and towards the hills surrounding this body of water. the crowd grew and grew, but felt ever helpless. a lot the locals were not particularly strong swimmers, so it was mainly tourists who were stepping in to offer assistance. but it was clearly now a recovery mission not a rescue mission. small groups would swim back and forth sweeping the lake, but despite the relatively small diameter it was still surprisingly deep, and hours passed with no significant progress. the mood was so sombre in the gathered crowd, a successful recovery wouldn't make anything better, yet somehow the lack of recovery was making everything worse. there was also talk that the elders wanted to put a stop to any future festivals as a result of the unfolding events. i hope that isn't the case as there was such joy and excitement when the day began, particularly in the local kids who had travelled from all around, i really hope that this community can breathe that positive air again.
here's the original
here's the original
i've posted 3 photos taken with a focal length of 65.0 mm
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