The Surprising People Of Afghanistan. There are some countries that are in the news for all of the wrong and depressing reasons. When is the last time you heard a feel-good story from Yemen, Libya, or Democratic Republic of Congo? One country that can not seem to break its negative news cycle is Afghanistan. I have been reading about Afghanistan since the Soviet Union invaded this ancient kingdom in 1979.
While I was truly excited for my visit to Afghanistan, my expectations were a bit moderated based upon my perceptions formed by my media consumption. My take away … life goes on. The people I met were friendly and hospitable. Of course, there are many people in Afghanistan who would be hostile to my presence. Apparently (and thankfully), I did not meet those people during my travels.
Part of my success in not fraternizing with Taliban or ISIS supporters was due to my guide. There are areas in Afghanistan that are considered dangerous to visit. And this safety situation is very fluid, meaning it can change hour to hour. In my opinion, it is critical to know this information and have a local guide who is knowledgeable with the local security situation. My trip was sponsored by Untamed Borders who specializes in bringing travelers to Afghanistan. The lead guide has been bringing journalist to Afghanistan since 2001.
I have never been excited to stop for gas or run into the convenient food store when I was on a road trip when I am back home in the US. But, I can not the same when I was traveling in Afghanistan. We were driving up north and decided to stop for a moment to buy some pomegranates, which are incredibly ubiquitous during the season. This ended up turning into an enjoyable 30 minute exercise, while taking my photos.
This kid really made me work for this photo. He was with his uncle at his pomegranate shop. It took about 10 minutes of smiling and waving until he acquiesced.
Another man in his shop, selling a cornucopia of squash.
A group of men relax at a local restaurant.
A young boy pokes his head through the window from the kitchen to the restaurant.
Two young boys work at the restaurant.
These boys take a break from sweeping at the mosque to pose with some smiles.
A man shows off his bird in Kabul. This bird is used in bird fight matches.
This man brings his horse to the field to play the polo-like game of Buzkashi, a popular game in Central Asia.
Visiting some men on (famous) Chicken Street in Kabul.
I found these two men in the bird market in Kabul. A very popular and busy street.
As we were exploring an abandoned home in the town of Bamiyan, this family popped out of a nearby home. They spent some time posing for pics. The woman of the home, hid behind the wall.
I spoke a couple of words in Dari to this man in a shop. He responded with a smile and responded in English. He then overviewed some of his favorite TV shows, including Jack Bauer’s 24. Cool guy.
This is a viewpoint overlooking a city in Kabul. The country is overflowing with army, police and security guards. It is not surprising to see armed men everywhere.
I met all of these people in Herat, a city in western Afghanistan near Iran. As you might note, there are no photos of women. In general, in Afghan culture, men are not allowed to approach or speak to women.