Saturday, April 24, 2010


I had a chance to visit Jalalabad a week or so ago. One of my colleagues, an Afghan with security connections, arranged for a group of us to travel along the somewhat dangerous Jalalabad road which leads to the Khyber Pass and Pakistan. It's a 3 hour trip given no traffic problems or shootouts.
Here are some pictures on the way out of Kabul.

And then the road took a turn and voila!

A real camel in the distance!

I'd taken some 'be calm' pills by this point.

Did I mention that we had an armed guard and a police escort with us. That's a Kalashnikov rifle for those of you not living in a war zone.

Here's the first of the really bad hairpin turns. Most goods into Afghanistan come by road - this road is one of the more heavily-traveled. Young boy as Director of Traffic.
Note the wooden door.

Here's a truck which missed the turn.

Here's what looks like a bus that really 'missed the turn.'

A graveyard?


Our first meal in Jalalabad - at a restaurant on the Kabul River. We had our own room with windows facing the river and swimming children. The blue plastic floor cloth was rolled out between us; the young waiter then walked barefoot down the 'cloth' to lay out the food.
Food prep!
And then we went sightseeing.

Enjoying the park.

Another park where we had tea.

And watched the water.

Here's the hotel.

And here's what you can get for $60/night. That's the TV on top of the fridge.

On the other hand the hotel had beautiful grounds.

Gardener tending his domain.

The next morning we went back to the Kabul River for a short boat ride. When we returned we were greeted by a crowd from the top of the levee. Just looking at us.

We had planned to travel further east towards the Pakistan border, but were told that 'they' knew 'we' were in town and it wasn't safe to travel further. 'They' being the Taliban, presumably. We were oddities: a bunch of foreigners, including four women, just walking around. It was suggested that I stop waving at bystanders (children) as it called attention to us. Low key was the order of the day.

Also on the levee - snooker tables. Go figure.

Omar is a company that removes mines; its name on the wall means the area is mine-free. Swell.

Several gas stations that we passed were like this one - all gussied up!

Broken chair.

What a happy shop!
And then one of the high points of the trip: the traffic jam. Four lanes forced into one lane going through a tunnel. About an hour of stopping and starting. And sweating (not an air-conditioned van).
These guys were also stuck - and not happy.

And then there were the camels and they just didn't care.

I stare at him; he stares at me.

The camel driver - tickled with himself.
Next to us, a family transporting a dead body in their station wagon.
It was very hot.
Lunch - fish yippee. I haven't had seafood - even fish - since I've been in Afghanistan. Here's the guard that stood outside the 'facilities' where we women did our business. Not a pleasant experience.

Kitchen facilities.

On the road we stopped for vegetables and Jalalabad oranges. The young man is carrying his scale.

And then back to Kabul.

Us taking pictures of us.

I was sick for two days after this trip - so was one other traveler - we think a shared plate of fried fish was the culprit .

Even so, the trip was worth it for the scenery alone. And, of course, the funnest thing most of do from week to week is grocery shopping.

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