One of my afghan colleagues invited a few of us, foreigners, to drive to one of Kabul’s dams. The view of the snowy mountains was spectacular and we had a great time walking in the snow and (more foolishly perhaps) on the ice. Later, four of our afghan colleagues came to join us. It was very nice.
One of the strange sights to be found in Afghanistan is that of abandoned shipping containers. They are usually in the middle of nowhere and you can’t help but wonder how they got there in the first place. We even saw an adobe house built around one.
In the afternoon, I took part in a hash. The hash (not to be confused with the local pharmacopoeia of the same name. The full name is Hash House Harriers) is, short of a better description, a traditional hiking society with a drinking edge. The whole thing sounds very British to me, although the group itself was international. We walked around a soviet built hospital complex, then passed some villages. The view of the adobe houses and of the wheat (?) fields with the mountains as the backdrop was wonderful. A funeral was taking place in the village. There was a procession, with at the front, four men carrying a bamboo bed on which lay the deceased covered by a blanket. A large chanting crowd was following.
For the next part of the trail, we had difficulties due to the slippery, ankle-deep puddles of mud. Some of us eventually, abandoned the “road” altogether and climbed the hill leading us to our destination instead. We passed a cemetery on the way. Many of the tombstones were literally that: a simple flat stone with some inscription painted on it. A green flag decorates the tomb of men who led pious lives.
We arrived panting to the top of the hill were stood the remains of an olympic size swimming pool built by the Soviets. We had perfect view on Kabul, the mountain (snowy on one side, earth colored on the other), the airport, the palace, the intercontinental hotel, etc. I don’t know how they built the pool, but today there isn’t even a decent road to get to it and it looks utterly absurd. Kids were playing soccer in the empty pool and nearby, next to an abandoned tank (there aren’t too many of those, but a few can be seen in and around Kabul).
I saw many women today and the large majority of them wore burka (the rest wore only headscarves). And that’s in and around Kabul, I would imagine that the burka would be more prevalent in some of the provinces. Interestingly, wearing the burka does not preclude wearing high heels in some cases. Burkas did not end with the Taliban.