Backpacking in Afghanistan: My Homestay Experience in Masar e Sharif

Backpacking in Afghanistan: My Homestay Experience in Masar e Sharif

Backpacking in Afghanistan: My Homestay Experience in Masar e Sharif

While backpacking in Afghanistan, I was delighted to be offered the chance of a homestay with a local family in the city of Masar e Sharif. In the years I’ve been travelling, I’ve had homestays in places like Israel, Iran, Uruguay, Nagorno Karabakh, Hungary, Tunisia and Transnistria. However Afghanistan was a whole new experience.

Touring the city of Masar e Sharif - Hazrat Ali's tomb.

Touring the city of Masar e Sharif – Hazrat Ali’s tomb.

The homestay here was yet another memorable moment as I stayed with Noor and his family. I also stayed in a Hotel in downtown Masar e Sharif and have written separately about it.

Backpacking in Afghanistan: My Homestay Experience in Masar e Sharif

Backpacking in Afghanistan: My Homestay Experience in Masar e Sharif

After touring the sights of Masar e Sharif, where we also watched Buzkashi, smoked Shisha and ate Mantoo, we drive to a residential area in the suburbs of the city. It’s a fairly normal Afghan style house. On a tight lane, off a street, off another street in a quiet neighbourhood. This is where my host Noor lives, with his wife and family.

Noor and I at my homestay

Noor and I at my homestay

With Mahdi, Noor's brother

With Mahdi, Noor’s brother

The entrance

The entrance

The lane to my homestay

The lane to my homestay

Front Yard
There is a lockable gate and a front yard. Your clothes get hung up to dry here. All washing is done by hand. There is no washing machine. The main toilet is in the front yard too.

Front yard

Front yard

Clothes hanging out

Clothes hanging out

Main entrance to the house

Main entrance to the house

In the front yard

In the front yard

Entrance and kitchen
You take off your shoes and walk down the steps into a roomy entrance hall and kitchen. The food is cooked here and there is quite a gender divide in Afghanistan. Noor’s sister and wife are cooking the food, but males and females eat separately.

The entrance to the house

The entrance to the house

The front hall and kitchen

The front hall and kitchen

Dinner
For dinner we have a real feast. I eat with Noor, his bothers Jon and Mahdi and his uncle Isaq. There are five of us in the room. We have chicken with long grain rice and a spicy vegetable called ziraplow, there is also yoghurt, bread and a tomato and cucumber salad. We drink water and carrot juice. The traditional washing of the hands before eating is done with a jug and a bowl.

Washing my hands before dinner

Washing my hands before dinner

Dinner at the homestay

Dinner at the homestay

Supper
For supper we sip special saffron tea. The colour is yellow and it’s supposed to be soothing for your body.

Saffron tea for supper

Saffron tea for supper

Saffron tea with Mahdi

Saffron tea with Mahdi

Sleeping
I sleep in the same room as Reza and Mahdi. It’s a cosy and warm winter night here and we have a heater in the room.

Backpacking in Afghanistan: My Homestay Experience in Masar e Sharif

Backpacking in Afghanistan: My Room in the homestay

My bed in the homestay

My bed in the homestay

Mahdi and the heater

Mahdi and the heater

I chatted at length to Reza over the few days I got to know him and we chatted about football. The colours of the Afghanistan flag are the same green, red and black of my home football team Glentoran. I gave Reza my Glentoran shirt.

Reza with mhy Glentoran shirt

Reza with his Glentoran shirt

Reza with mhy Glentoran shirt

I gave Reza my Glentoran shirt

Breakfast
For breakfast its bread with cheese and apricot jam and yet more tea. Afghans love their tea. I also loved the mix of sour (cheese) and sweet (jam). It was delicious.

Cheese, jam and tea for breakfast

Cheese, jam and tea for breakfast

Cheese, jam, bread and tea for breakfast

Cheese, jam, bread and tea for breakfast

Thanks so much to Noor and family for my homestay experience. I was made to feel so welcome here. There was an epic sunrise on my final day here too.

Sunrise from my homestay with Noor and family in Masar e Sharif

Sunrise from my homestay with Noor and family in Masar e Sharif

Leaving my homestay with Noor.

Leaving my homestay with Noor.

Here are some videos from my homestay in Masar e Sharif, Afghanistan:

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