2012
05.22

SYNOPSIS:  THE OFFICIAL AFGHANISTAN TOUR STARTED TODAY WITH NEIL BUXTON’S ARRIVAL:  KABUL FROM THE TV HILL, THE LANDMINE MUSEUM, AND THE BAZAAR, FOR STARTERS.

I figured it would be a kind gesture to go to the airport with one of ALT’s drivers to pick up Neil Buxton, my travel companion from the UK, about whom I know little more than that he is one of the few people who did not cancel their trip to Afghanistan.  Up at 6 AM, out the door by 7 AM, I was on my way with Javid, a 24 year old guy, and one of the drivers who works for ALT.   He was eager to practice his English which he entirely had picked up through driving around foreigners and I had a good chance to refresh a few more Farsi/Dari phrases.  By the time we had reached the airport, we had bonded, found a place in the shade to wait and worked out our language issues.  Before I knew it, I was surrounded by about 20 people, women young and old and children, who had seen me walking around and who followed me to my shady spot to “check me out”.   We had each grabbed a brick from a nearby pile to sit on and they followed suit.  And so we sat and chatted as much as our language barriers allowed us to.  With so many women around, Javid had to excuse himself.  From a distance he watched this spectacle quite amused.  When I asked, if he could take a picture of us all, the women refused.  Only two brave ones reluctantly agreed to remain seated.  Of course, they all snapped pictures of me with their cell phones…

More than two hours passed fast this way.  We waited and waited at the entrance gate that spat out the passengers from two international flights.  When even the last one had come through, except for our guy, we knew something was wrong.  Long story short – Neil had exited through a different gate…  Sounds familiar, doesn’t it.  I had done the same thing just two days earlier.  But eventually, we connected.  Neil is in his forties and works for VW.  He bikes a lot and loves nature.  He travels a lot, usually alone and in strange places – Yemen, last year.  And Afghanistan has been on his list ever since he briefly landed here 26 years ago in transit.  Why not?  We all have our reasons.  This is what I know so far and if that’s all I will ever know it’s OK, too.  We are here to enjoy this unusual trip together and that’s exactly what we will do.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY