Sunday, January 29, 2006

Control Freak

My anxiety is building up. In a good way. I've been researching on the Internet and communicating with people who have been to Afghanistan, or are already there. I don't know if I am going to be mentally prepared for the poverty. Seeing images on the web and speaking with a film maker who was there two years ago, most Americans would not believe nor comprehend the living conditions. Over there, people are struggling to live - wondering where their next meal will come from. In the States, we worry about which colored shirt to wear in the morning and weather it will match our slacks.

Terri, the film maker I met with, spent a month in Afghanistan shooting a documentary commissioned by the US Army. She is going to see if she can send me the DVD of the finished product.

There were four in her group and they were there for a month, about two years ago. She said things seemed safer then because it was just after the US troops went into Iraq and the focus had shifted. But, she always had security detail with her. She didn't sleep much. Although she was in the protection of the US military's walls, she wasn't at ease. She was also the only one in her group not to get sick. She attributes this to not drinking the water and doing nothing with the water - not even washing her hands, brushing her teeth, eating fruits and veggies that was washed with the water.

I asked her about dress. She suggested to blend in as much as you can so not to draw attention. However, while there, she did not wear any head covering. She also advised to wear sturdy shoes because of all the rocks and rubble around.

I told her that I was curious to see if Afghanistan is better off now. She politely reminded me that women can be seen outside and attend school. So yes, Afghanistan as a country is better off.
My major concerns with the trip are things I can control. There is no point in worrying about things I cannot control - such as being kidnapped or shot at (I'm know a whole lotta people will be praying for me) - well, I guess I can control those things by NOT going, but I'm determined to go. I am concerned about showing the proper courtesy and respect to the Afghan people and our hosts. I am concerned that my pants will not be shapeless and "flowing" enough. I am concerned I will not have the proper head scarf. I am concerned about clearing Customs in the States. I'm quite sure I must be on some watch list, especially since visiting Cuba two years ago.

I need to work on my query letters this week and catch up on some reading. But like my trip to Japan, I will learn the most when I am immersed in the culture.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

He's Arrived!

My traveling companion for my upcoming trip arrived today. I still have to work on removing the Styrofoam dots from him - it's kind of like glitter - don't think it ever goes away. Now, I'm instructed to leave him with any member of the military that I come in contact with. I didn't clarify whether that means US or other. I'm debating whether to break him in this weekend and take him on the road to Ft. Lauderdale with me

I like the gnome because he reminds me of a drawings my uncle did for me and my siblings. Sometime in the 80's when gnomes were popular, he sketched various gnomes in different positions. Wonder if my parents still want mine? (hint, hint)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Traveling Companion Needs No Visa

Watching a mostly-naked Bushman traverse across the African plains in order to return a glass Coke bottle to the gods made me laugh. It still does. I'm referring to the movie, "The Gods Must Be Crazy". Xi, the main character of the film, carries the Coca-Cola bottle that fell from the skies (an airplane) throughout the movie. It's a story of Western society invading/touching/corrupting (?) a simple and different world.

While I worked in Yellowstone, my friend Jen O. and I began carrying and photographing ourselves with a box of Muselix. We took it camping and hiking with us and when we went our separate ways at the end of each summer, we our own box of Muselix to create Kodak moments.

My friends at Travelocity are providing me with a travel companion for my upcoming trip - a gnome. If you haven't seen the gnome yet, check out Travelocity's website. The gnome will join me on the journey and I will document his experiences, too. Don't think he needs a visa.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Thank God I'm Catholic

Here's a snippet of an IM with my Mom tonight. She beat me in reaching my Grandma to tell her of the trip:

CWAC2444: i am talking to grandma now. she said she would pray for you!!!!!!

(OK, so I'm picturing my 83-year-old Grandmother on her knees, praying against the bed with the rosary between her hands).

JHuber7672: Did you wake her up!?
JHuber7672: Is she upset? Should I call her?

(And making Grandma upset isn't a good thing! She can be a bit feisty and speaks her mind - and I got a piece of it when I called her).


(Yeah, I have - I was petrified when I first went out to Yellowstone. Not knowing a sole. Since then, I've traveled to England, Sweden, Cuba and Japan. What will this trip have in store?)

Yup, I'm Heading to Afghanistan

Although I've been planning this trip for about a month, I can now tell the world (since I just informed my parents - I'm 35 years old and still care what they think!) that I'm heading to Afghanistan for a 10-day trip. No, I haven't lost my mind. I have a voracious curiosity for unknowns and Afghanistan is a big unknown.

I'm heading over with a small, non-profit group that works with peace-keeping organizations. The focus is to meet with various women's organizations and see the progress women are making in a post-Taliban society.

In order to fund the trip, I'm hoping to get some writing published about the trip and will begin my queries this week. If you're interested in publishing a story with photos, please contact me.

Leading up to my departure and while I prepare, I will post my thoughts and anxieties. While in Afghanistan, I should have access to Internet cafes to post accordingly. Enjoy the journey!