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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For supper we sip special saffron tea. The colour is yellow and it’s supposed to be soothing for your body.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are some videos from my homestay in Masar e Sharif, Afghanistan:
6 thoughts on “Backpacking in Afghanistan: My Homestay Experience in Masar e Sharif”
That was an awesome gesture of you to give away your Glentoran jersey to Noor like that in appreciation of your Homestay. And we all know how passionate you are about your favourite football clubs! How did this Homestay come about in the first place? And how did Noor react when you gave him your Glentoran jersey?
Hi Ray, There aren’t really homestay options in Afghanistan so you have to know locals. I organised everything through Untamed Borders. Understandably Noor doesn’t want to publicise this too much as it’s his private home in a private neighbourhood and the neaighbours wouldn’t be keen on seeing lots of foreigners show up for obvious reasons. It was a one off experience and I’m glad I saw a real Afghan house. Yeah Reza was happy with the Glentoran shirt, my next plan is to get him to sign for Glentoran! Safe travels. Jonny