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Week 36

After the speedy progress of last week it’s been a bit more slow and steady this week. The highlight and standout statistic of the week has to be that team peacock has passed 5000 miles. Well done to all the peacocks – a landmark for sure, ending this week on a team total of 5,057 miles covered. that means they are now only 625 miles from the finish at Jay Ambe hospital in Chaparda. Exciting…!!

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Hinglaj Devi Temple

At the moment the peacocks are walking through Pakistan’s Hingol National Park, a quite remarkable place of amazing landscape and geology and our featured image this week.  It’s a large area, around the size of Devon, and was named as a National Park in 1988. Not unlike Buzi Makola that they passed through last week, the park is home to over 200 protected species, oases, spectacular beaches, unique mud volcanoes and even  a number of  Hindu Temples, the most famous being built in a cave, called Hinglaj Devi Temple. Though a Hindu Temple, it is curated and looked after by Muslim’s, who also take part in an annual 4-day pilgrimage to the cave each April, attended by thousands.

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Pistachio’s in Iran

In Iran, the wee monkeys are creeping ahead of the snow leopards but they remain close to each other. Some weeks ago we described the city of Kerman, and it’s here the snow leopards are stopping for the night. To be more precise they’re outside Kerman, and equidistant from the city of Rafsanjan. It’s hard to take in that, between them, these two cities have a population of nearly one million people. Bear in mind this is in the middle of the desert, a hot and seemingly inhospitable place. Yet here we are, with a massive population. Why would anyone live here? Are they nuts? Well, no, but they do GROW nuts!! This region is the largest producer of pistachio nuts in the world, producing over a third of all the pistachio harvested worldwide. Apart from growing nuts the region produce some of the highest quality carpets in the country, no mean feat since Iran is famed for them, as well as having  a highly developed ceramic tile industry. 

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Castle of Bam

The wee monkeys have just passed the spectacular sand castle of Bam, which we learned about a few weeks ago, and for those of you that have 9 minutes to spare you may enjoy this video that describes Kerman and Bam. A fascinating film, for sure. It doesn’t mention the sad fact that in 2003 a terrible earthquake killed more than 30,000 people, a reminder of the power of nature and the fragility of even a great fortress like Bam.

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Crveni Krst Concentration Camp

In Serbia the tigers have just passed through Nis, the third largest city in the country and gateway to the Balkan mountains. Though some would say that Istanbul in Turkey marks the border between East and West, Europe and Asia, many others would propose that it’s more properly the city of Nis. Whichever is true, Nis is worth a visit, a place of great history, and not just by virtue of being the birthplace of the Roman Emperor Constantine. History is often the story of tragedy, and Nis has its fair share, sad to say. There is the Skull Tower, a fortress built in 1809 literally from the skulls of defeated enemies. Closer to our own time it is also where the Crveni Krst Concentration Camp was located, part of the Nazi Holocaust apparatus that took the lives of more than 10,000 Jews, Serbs and Romani people, between 1941 and 1944.

So there we are, another week of slow but steady progress. Congratulations again to the peacocks for passing 5000 team miles, and best of luck with the remaining 650!

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JRS Refugee Friends

Before signing off, just a note to say we have posted a report of the World Medicine Refugee Friends Project in London, which can be found on the website. Our thanks again to Barbara and to all the volunteers who have made this a great success, and, we hope, the prototype  for other such projects around the country.

Enjoy the week ahead. We had no takers for the recipe project suggested last week but it’s never too late! Get cooking…!