Wednesday, March 08, 2006

End of Day 3: Kabul Rocks

It's the end of day three and I have to be at one of the slowest Internet Cafes in the world (but also the cheapest). Let's back up to yesterday - I forgot to mention that the tribe people we met with, who want an apology from the US government for being detained, were (are?) members of the Taliban. Yes, somewhere out there, there is a photo of me and some Taliban members. But, people are people and they wouldn't have been at a human rights organization without good reason.

Our house shook last night and we're still in debate as to whether it was an earthquake or mortar. Nothing was on the news so we're still guessing. Speaking of the news, I promised my parents I wouldn't end up on CNN as a result of this trip. I didn't say anything about Afghan national news. At a woman's day celebration yesterday (the day is celebrated over multiple days), camera crews filmed the token Americans and we ended up on TV. Another minute ticks off my 15 minutes.

This morning was a bucket shower - water heated by the wood burning stove - almost like a hot spring with the water bubbling and boiling. Attended International Woman's Day celebration, which included having our bags searched twice by humans and once by a dog. We (American security, like TSA Airport Security) have taught them how to search bags and conduct pat-downs well - except, the Afghans add their own touch and apologize for having to put one through this. I did take the Travelocity gnome with me today and the security guard smiled when he pulled him out of the bag. But sorry Travelocity, no photos of the security.
Of course, there were more guns today - in tanks, in the back of pick-up trucks, on roof tops. We missed seeing the Afghan President by minutes. Oh, well.

Think I mentioned the crazy driving in my last post. We're transported in two vans. I initiated conversation in my van this afternoon wondering about the number of car accidents there are each day in Kabul. The van then stopped. The second van carrying our group was hit in the back side by a jeep. The police got involved and for about $100, everyone is happy.

In the bleak, brown of Kabul, the blue burquas are bright spots, along with the yellow taxis. Engaged some women today in conversation about why they wear the burqua while at the Women's Garden - several shops run by women and a garden for children to play. Behind the walls of the garden, women are comfortable and feel safe to take off their head scarves and burquas. Although we don't speak Dari or Farsi and most didn't speak English, we were able to understand that some women don't think they are pretty enough to be seen without the burqua. Another woman demonstrated, like Charlie Chaplin, how difficult it is to walk in one - she did so by stumbling onto the sidewalk then laughing.

I don't think I can express enough how enduring the people have been. The ultimate sign of acceptance is when they bring their right hand to their heart and give it.

Where ever we go, we draw a crowd, mostly children. For $100, I can hire a 7-year-old body guard. For $1 some charcoal. Tomorrow is our visit to the orphanage and street children training center. The orphanage will probably be depressing.

This trip has got me thinking about sustainable tourism. Tourism into areas that don't have the proper infrastructure to support their residents. I wondered about the trash we are producing. The excess packaging from film cartons, battery holders, plastic from shampoo bottles. When we leave, this will probably just be dumped on the street for the children to pick through and goats to eat. Does sustainable tourism into these type of areas include backpacking concept of "pack it in, pack it out?" I know one needs to be careful in preserving the culture and not creating bad habits, such as randomly handing out money or candy to kids. But what are the other responsibilities we have as visitors? I think I feel a story coming out of this...

The Polaroid has been a big hit. Just need to be careful as to who is around because EVERYONE would want a photo.

It's rained each day which certainly has to cut down on the amount of dust around. I can still feel the dust on my eyes. But, mud is everywhere. Think I'm gonna have to finally throw away my utility shoes after this trip!

I really appreciate everyone's emails and posts. Sorry I can't reply. It's nice knowing you all are interested :)

1 comment:

Paula said...

I'm just now catching up, Jen, I'm so amazed and excited and proud of you! Love where you are going with the sustainable tourism issues, I too think you are on to something. Keeping posted daily from now on!!!