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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Kabul to Kandahar

My attempts to continue blogging from Afghanistan weren't very successful primarily because I was bouncing around and internet wasn't up in most places. I did take a road trip from Kabul to Kandahar. In spring 2002, my last time in Kabul and Kandahar, the trip would have taken two days. It only took seven hours this time--and that included a stop for food at the US PRT in Gazni.

The journey was relatively uneventful although once we hit Mokur we were a bit more alert. The area between Mokur and Kandahar has been the scene of increased contact between coalition forces and anti-coalition elements. It is difficult to characterize these anti-coalition forces as Taliban or al Qaeda, but there is certainly a portion of the population that continues to fight against the US led efforts to eliminate Taliban remnants and lead in the nation building process currently underway.

The lack of females along the roadside is striking. In fact I didn't see a single woman or teenage girl the entire 350 miles journey. Back in Kabul one can see a more cosmopolitan influence, there are women on the street. Most are covered still but they are out and about. The pace of change is much slower in the rural area. I remember Georgia in the early nineties. People in Batumi and other outlying provinces would always talk about the unashamed and "loose" ways of the "Tbilisi girls." The city was clearly seen as a place where traditional values were crumbling in the face of new forces and pressures--primarily from the west.

In Kandahar we stayed the night near the Canadian PRT. The group I was with needed to pick up an additional Humvee for the return trip to Kabul the next day. There wasn't enough room in the SUV for me so I hunkered down in a private house for the night while others went elsewhere to pick up the humvee. On the way back to my location they took small arms fire that splintered the bullet-proof glass on the rear passenger window.

Leaving Kandahar the next morning, a sniper round struck the driver's front window again splintering the glass but causing no other damage. That was all we needed to start referring to the humvee as the bullet magnet. The rest of the trip was relatively uneventful.


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6:00 AM  

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