Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Arrival on Afghan Grounds

So finally, after a couple more finals, I got to go east at last. Taking the least convenient (yet most wallet-friendly) route I left Boston last Friday and flew via Toronto, London, Doha and Dubai to Kabul. I expected the last plane journey, the two and a half hours from Dubai to Kabul, to be taking place in a tiny airplane with propeller drive, filled only with only a handful of run-down, somewhat crazy-looking expat adventurers. So wrong! There were four planes doing the distance from Dubai to Kabul before 7am and none were particularly small nor empty. There were many more Afghans on the flight than expats and the few expats I saw looked pretty sane and average to me. What a disappointment;-)
After the arduous journey I slept through most of the flight which was a real shame because for the 10 minutes that I managed to keep my eyes open, I saw mountains like I had never seen before. Thanks to my Bavarian grandmother I had been forced up a couple of Bavarian mountains as a kid and had quickly discovered they weren’t for me. And sure, the surreal, jagged brown moonscape I saw didn’t make me want to put on my hiking boots either, but they were without question breathtaking.
Once on the ground, passport control was surprisingly smooth and getting my suitcase wasn’t much of a pain either (bar a little fight with a deaf-mute elderly man who had insisted carrying my suitcase where my cross-cultural sign language skills failed me and I had to resort to the strength of my arms). As expected military presence is strong and very visible, but once out of the airport the vast majority seemed to be Afghan, which surprised me (where are those 20,000 troops expected for the elections?). Stuck in traffic in what was an obvious expat vehicle, I was feeling somewhat queasy thinking that such a traffic jam filled with UN cars and the likes would probably be a popular target for a suicide attack. However, I was assured that Kabul was quiet these days (even though alert levels are up overall) and nothing had happened since February. Can’t deny that I didn’t find it that comforting that three quiet months are already reason for joy here.
Then finally arrived at my guesthouse, which bore yet another surprise: garden Eden! You enter from a loud, dusty street (via an armed guard) and then find yourself in a lush, green garden with pink and red roses everywhere, thick juicy grass, a comfy sofa-like area with lots of pillows and rugs, and then… two parrots, a tortoise and a free running rabbit! This definitely makes up for the fact that I will be sleeping in a musty smelling shed for the next two months!!
So overall, I am still reasonably scared and still very excited.

No comments:

Post a Comment