All you naysayers can stop worrying about me now

I made it back from Kabul safe and sound. I arrived here at Bagram at around 1430 today after a much more pleasant drive up than I had on the way down. I give the credit to the driver, who was much better than the last one I had. I guess I'll give you a quick rundown of the rest of my little vacation to Kabul. I think I left off on Thursday, which was a pretty quiet day for me. It got much livelier that night, when my good friend Jeremy who lives/works down there took me out to a Croatian restaurant near the safehouse. The interior and atmosphere of the restaurant were much higher quality than I expected, and the food was also outstanding. One quick story about our dinner there: we walked in the door and the host asked us right away if we had a reservation. We gave him a confused look to indicate that we didn't know we needed a reservation, and the host decided to accommodate us anyway. He took us to an empty table at the corner of his empty restaurant -- a restaurant that remained empty the entire time we were there. It struck me as odd that the guy was so quick to ask us if we had a reservation when it looked to me like the reservation book was completely empty for the night. Oh, one other unique thing about this particular restaurant is that it's located just outside of the US safehouse and is geared towards foreign nationals. They have armed guards at the door and no local Afghans are allowed inside as a safety precaution for the Westerners who like to eat there. Interesting. We spent the rest of the evening at a nightclub, another "no locals allowed" kind of place, although I wouldn't imagine that too many Muslims are into the whole nightclub scene anyway. We had a good time, and got to hang out with a wide variety of foreign transplants from the US, Europe, and Asia. It was a cool place, and I never would have thought that such a venue existed anywhere in Afghanistan (see people? This is why it's important to get off the base and into the cities every once in a while). One interesting note about the nightclub -- I met the owner, and I learned that his mom graduated from Colorado State University. What a small world. Friday was another down day for me. I didn't get into the city to visit an orphanage or shelter like I'd hoped, but I definitely enjoyed another relaxing day off. This little trip to Kabul was as much of a mini-vacation as it was anything else. On Friday night my buddy Jeremy was working, so I went out with two other acquaintances to a German restaurant in town. I ate veal schnitzel, and once again the food was very impressive. I don't know if it was really that good or if I've just been eating Army food for too long, but I definitely ate every last morsel on my plate. The guys I was with were telling me that this German restaurant is a training ground for the locals to learn the skills of serving and bartending, with the goal of eventually moving up to bigger and better establishments. I don't know if that's true or not, but it makes a good story. After dinner we hung out at the bar and definitely had our share of Kostriker, a (really good) dark German beer. One of the guys I was with even bought me a Kostriker stein, which is an awesome souvenir. I don't know anybody else who's got a German beer stein that was purchased at a restaurant in Kabul, Afghanistan. This morning (Saturday) I got out of bed in time to head over to the base with Jeremy and get some breakfast, after which we left to play 18 holes of golf. Okay, so it was only video golf on the Xbox in his room at the safehouse, but we got a kick out of saying that we'd played 18 in Kabul. After the video games it was time for Jeremy to call it a "night" (he works nights, so 1230 is way past his bedtime) and time for me to pack up and meet my ride. I said goodbye to Jeremy, which was a little bit weird because I just saw him a few weeks ago, but it was just hitting me that I might not see him again for quite some time. Plus it's still just a little bit weird to be saying goodbye to a good friend when we're both in Afghanistan. We've got tentative plans to meet up in Europe over Christmas, but if that doesn't work out I probably won't see him again until March when he comes back to the States on vacation. Of course, that assumes that I won't be back out in this part of the world by then, which is still kind of up in the air... (it's a long story folks -- don't ask. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it). So here I am back at Bagram, with only 9 days left before I start making my way home. I'm not sure that's really sunk in yet, either. I've still got a fair bit of packing and shipping to do, so I should probably wrap this up for now. I'll leave you with a couple of pictures, although I'll warn you that my photos didn't turn out as great as I would have liked. The shots I did get aren't terrible, I just didn't end up with enough shots of the "life" of the city of Kabul. At any rate, here's a quick sample: This is the UNO office in Kabul that I mentioned in my last post: These are two small deer that are kept as pets at UNO Kabul: Some apartments (and the front half of a cab) in Kabul: The ISAF dining area (see last post): Storefronts (and traffic) in Kabul: A UN vehicle on the roads of Kabul: The US safehouse I stayed in (view from the roof): A hillside neighborhood of Kabul: Some tents (for farmers, maybe? or shepherds?) in the middle of nowhere between Bagram and Kabul: This pic is from the little town of Bagram that sits just outside of Bagram The Army Base. I was trying to snap the photo out the window of a fast moving vehicle, so it's not a great shot. I was trying to get a good photo of two little girls, and I barely caught them in the lower right side of the shot:


Blogger EmilyRose said...

Love it. Love the pictures, love the stories, love it all. SO glad you are back and safe! I will pass the word along to mom - she will feel much better!
hey - you're planning on shaving some of that long peach fuzz down before the wedding ... right?

7/17/05, 8:25 AM  
Blogger Josh said...

For the benefit of my sister and anyone else who might be "concerned..." I'm planning to get rid of this pathetic attempt at a beard before too long. I'm keeping it to see the reaction of my family when they see it up close, but it won't last much longer after that. I realize it's not working for me, and quite honestly I'm not thrilled with it myself. As Jeremy made sure to point out more than once while I was in Kabul, "dude, the hair's okay, but you have got to lose the beard." I still haven't given up on the possibility of dreads, though...

7/17/05, 9:26 AM  
Anonymous Mom said...

As one of the wary and the naysayers, I am sooo glad you are back 'home' in long lost Bagram having had a wonderful time in Kabul seeing the sights and eating your way through the Big City! I am mostly happy for you that you got to spend time with Jeremy....who I now think of as yet another 'son', also using his mighty computer expertise to help save the world from terror and harm while living half a world away. Keeping you both in my prayers....and,(from what little I have seen), I would agree that 'dude, you have got to lose that beard!

Love, mom

ps - dreads? really? dreadful!

7/17/05, 5:29 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

You're safe! Hooray!

Just Say No To Dreads.

Love the pictures, too, by the way. You know, you should write a proper book about your experiences over the past year. I'd buy it in a heartbeat. 'Cause like I said before, you are SUCH an amazing writer. It'd be SWEET if you could make some cash off of your talent! Let me know what you think...I might be able to hook you up with a publisher here in Pittsburgh.

7/19/05, 2:01 PM  

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