on the silk route 2010 / 2012



Entering a new country is always exciting and full of surprises. In China it was the spitting on the floor during my first busride, in Chile it was the panic about bringing some fruits into the country and in Afghanistan it was the gentle and shy behaviour of the borderpolice who offered me a cup of tea while stamping my passport. Entering Afhanistans capital Kabul was a different story. Security is fierce on the cityborders and I caused mainly confusement with a peloton of police asking me over and over why I was not travelling with armed personnel. Finally they arranged me a taxi to reach the extra protected citycenter safely.

“So, you are travelling through Afghanistan?” one of Kabul’s 9000 expatriates asks me? While I’m reading his face, often a mix of astonishment, admiration and disbelieve I add that it’s a wonderful country to travel, as long as you’re willing to deal with unexpected changes and create enough time to prepare the safety of your itinerary. Most foreigners who come to work in Afghanistan have little space to move around independently. Insurance companies restrict their freedom to minimalize the risks of kidnapping or attacks in public places. Curfews and personal drivers are common rules to guarantee this.

I was honoured to stay for almost 2 weeks in the guesthouse of International Assistance Mission, this is the NGO with the longest presence in Afghanistan, since 1966!!!! The organization is run by very inspirational people. On voluntary base they work hard on Afghanistans development projects like healthcare and economic development. Most of them serve longterm and when I was meeting different people within the organization I was touched by their dedication, especially since IAM lost 10 people of their medical staff in a terrorist attack last August. My host Mats knew them personally, the backround stories made my stomach turn around in a way foodpoison can only dream of. Daily life with Mats was full of social activities like Yogaclass, biblestudy and underground party, all meltingpots of intriguing people trying to make a change and opening my eyes to unexplainable Kabul.

People need each other here to deal with the uncommon circomstances, this counts for both locals and foreigners, on different levels. I was told that the motivation to come and work here are either Missionary, Merchandary (money) or Mad. I would like to add Magnanimous (altruistic) because I think it’s rather different from missionary. IAM is openly Christian, this was probably the reason to kill the 10 doctors last summer. Nowadays most people, at least the people I met, are able to practice the difference between aid based on converting to Christianity and unpretentious aid for needy people.

Together with the only fellow tourist i met in a month, Dan, I managed to spend some time in Jalallabad, only for the name already worth a visit. We enjoyed the hospitality of a group of doctors in a student dorm where endless conversation, numerous praying, cooking, photoshoots and most of all a lot of testosteron mingled on a few square meters, only the wrestling we did outside.

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Posted by Teun - 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “Kabul”

  1. San zegt:

    mooi verhaal weer, net alsof ik even in jouw huidkruip en zelf zie.
    Wat liefdevol, hoe dat kleine meisje zich achter de zingende kids verstopt en dan omarmd wordt door haar broertje.
    Safraan… nu weet ik pas waar het vandaan komt.
    See you in Burma!?

  2. Michiel zegt:

    Wow, en nog eens wow. Lekker geregeld allemaal makker. En nu ga je iemand ophalen op t vliegveld geloof ik he? enjoy xx

  3. Michiel zegt:

    Sinterklaas op een olifant, YES!