Tuesday, August 16, 2011

On the Road Again

After the disturbing tragedy of the "complex" attack on the governor's compound in nearby Charikar, and the scramble to ensure that my local employees who have been working there were safe (they were) and have everything we can provide to help them deal with the situation I was pretty tired.  However, in light of the courage and dedication they have shown in forging ahead and denying the Taliban even the victory of delaying their work, I felt a duty to continue as well, and hit the road again.

Pushing out into new territory, I had a chance to see more of the stunning valleys and rivers that allow Afghans to carve a living out of the rocks and dirt that dominate the landscape of Afghanistan.  We follow the thin green belt along the valley floor, keeping watch, and sometimes being watched from the sheer rock faces that rise to the sides.

Although the scenery is breathtaking (despite the fact I get it only in tiny snippets from my position in the back of the monstrous vehicles we travel in), travelling is slow, hot, bumpy and generally seems designed to remind me that I am no longer in my twenties, (nor thirties).  On the positive side, as I was again out with my "fellow 'mericans" I could enjoy the good-natured teasing, joking, insulting among the crew that resembles the dynamics on sports teams, fraternities, firefighters etc. whose sometimes relentless harassment of their colleagues is a form of what is known in our home as "boy love" - where affection is also known to take the shape of a fist... Fortunately for me, as I am something of a novelty for them being both a civilian and a generation or so removed from many of them, I am spared both the teasing, which I wouldn't mind, and any physical abuse they may inflict on each other, which could be fatal to those of use whose biceps are not measured in feet.

Anyhow - I was glad to have a competent and cohesive squad to ride with, and appreciated their musical choices, even if the sing-along wasn't quite up to American Idol standards.  As sometimes happens, a random song change jolted me from the experience of rolling with my new homies to suddenly being almost overwhelmed by memories of grooving out in the kitchen with the family to "I'm a Be".  I chose to think of it as bringing along those homeboys (and girl) along on the adventure.

Some highlights:

My Basic "Battle Rattle"
which I hope never to field test, and which is heavier than it looks

Typical Hills in Afghanistan
the white line is a road

Curious Kids at the Corner Grocery Store

Abandoned Tanks from Soviet Invasion
(Yes It's Hard not to Dwell on Afghanistan's Reputation as the "Graveyard of Empires") 
will try to get better pictures another time

Summertime at the Riverfront
Hard to see, but kids from the village to the left are swimming in the river.

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