Afghanistan

Afghanistan Photo Gallery

Diane Lebow’s photos from her most recent trip to Afghanistan.

At Home in Kabul

Winner of Travelers’ Tales Solas Gold Award for Best Women’s Travel Writing 2010

–Diane LeBow

Word count: 3844

“That’s the Hindu Kush Mountains, the killer of Hindus.” An Afghan man sitting next to me on the Ariana Afghan Airlines flight from Dubai to Kabul leaned over and explained. Outside the window, the flat desert lands of Iran and southern Afghanistan suddenly gave way to barren blue and gray ridgebacks, like waves of a stormy sea. I thought about the land I was visiting and wondered how stormy the political situation would be during my upcoming visit to this war weary land. As I was leaving for the San Francisco airport twenty-four plus hours ago, a friend called: “Have you been listening to the news? There’s just been another bombing in central Kabul, many people killed and injured, and an assassination attempt on President Karzai. Do you think you should delay your departure?”

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Afghanistan: The Friendliest Country

The cover on an Afghan tourism brochure from the 1970’s that I found in a bookstore in Kabul states: Afghanistan, The Friendliest Country. Believe it or not, that’s what I’ve found during my visits there and with the continuing friendships I have made with Afghan people…

…Even though I travel extensively, I was never in a war zone before. There were a few things to get used to. As we left the Kabul Airport, my driver said, “Don’t worry that there is no seat belt,” as he saw me searching along the side of the seat. “I drive slowly.” With that, he floored it, and we raced up the wrong side of the divided street against the oncoming traffic. There are no traffic rules or stop lights in Afghanistan. Traffic when it moves, like spilled milk, goes anywhere there is a space. My driver Nabil’s technique suits the general sense of lawlessness in the air.

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