Winter in Kabul

Are you sure this is the correct route?

Judging by today’s pictures, you would never know that we were in the middle of the winter season.  I’m unsure if this is an anomaly or Afghanistan (specifically Kabul) is experiencing a very mild winter.  But today I swore it felt like spring weather.  The sun was shining brightly and the temperature was rather comfortable.  This is rather surprising since

Captain, it's going to be a tight squeeze, but we can make it.

we are sitting at 5800 feet above sea level.  Of course in the higher elevations, they are still receiving a lot of snow.  The Salang Pass (12,000 ft elevation) just reopened after being closed for several days due to 17 avalanches.  The snow was 21 feet thick in some places.  Tragically at least 165 people perished in these avalanches, but 2500

Are those cows in coats?

people were rescued in part due to a combined NATO and ANA effort.  Our ANA Brigade sent 70+ soldiers to help with the rescue effort and the local news reported that Bagram Air Field (BAF) treated over 100 patients that were flown in by helicopter.  The Salang Tunnel was built during 1955-1964 by the Soviets and is the main artery that connects north and south Afghanistan.  During the Soviet occupation, the Salang Pass was also used by the Mujahedeen as a strategic ambush site.

At our 0730 morning meeting, our ETT leader announced the Cougar MRAP was repaired and to put together a mission to retrieve it.  He asked me to be the convoy commander and to depart the camp after lunch.  So after my daily mentoring session, we put together a mission plan.  My Captain would be my driver.  He hasn’t driven in awhile and being his Truck Commander and the Convoy Commander, I get to tell him what to do …. lol.  Actually, the convoy commander, regardless of their rank has the responsibility for the convoy and making critical decisions.  Each Truck Commander is responsible for their vehicle and follows the convoy commander instructions.

Unique way of carrying Naan bread.

We departed our camp and drove into the heart of the city.  The Captain was a little bit rough with the vehicle in hitting the potholes and it felt like we were riding horses.  The side streets and sidewalks were filled with a lot of pedestrians.  The vendors were taking advantage of the warm temperatures and set up their display carts.   One man was balancing fresh Naan bread on his head, while others were struggling to push and pull their overloaded carts.  The market area was extremely congested today and we had to

Pulling a full load.

inch our way through it dodging people, bicycles, carts, motorcycles, and cars.  It has been quite awhile since I last seen the market area so populated.  The city dwellers moved about conducting their shopping and bargaining for the best prices.  What really stands out is how many of them are dressed.  Some still wear the traditional garb and blue burqas, while others were dressed smartly in suits, sports coats and shoes.  Yes, most everyone is wearing shoes and giving their flip-flops a break.  Although you can still find some hardcore or perhaps poor people wearing their leather or plastic flip-flops with socks.

Lt's first time driving Cougar MRAP off camp.

The Army Lt and I visited the maintenance shop and signed the mechanic’s paperwork for the Cougar MRAP.  The starter went out and had to be replaced.  The Lt was anxious to drive since recently attending the MRAP driving course.  So now he will have a good picture to share with his students when he finishes this deployment and returns to being a school teacher.

Child begging for money.

On the return trip we encountered quite a bit of city traffic.  When the cars would stop, poor children with empty metal cans would approach the drivers in hope of getting some money.  I was rather surprised because in the past I don’t recall seeing this many children out begging for money.  Today I saw half a dozen children pandering.

On the outskirts of the

Let's stop for some fruit and lamb chops.

city, the people are much poorer too.  The suburbs are also where you will find the vegetable and open meat markets.  As you can see in the picture, the raw meat is on display and for sale.  If given a choice, I will take my chances with the fruit neatly stacked in the wooden crates.  I didn’t see any of the melons that Afghanistan is famous for.  Maybe they are out of season.

It also looked like the locals were taking advantage of a sunny day or perhaps it was laundry day in the city.  Clotheslines were stretched between apartment buildings and weighted down with

Drying clothes in Kabul.

clothes blowing in the wind.  On the home stretch towards the camp, I also got a picture of Afghan boys selling balloons.

Since returning to camp, the temperature has already started to drop.  Battleship gray clouds were hovering over the surrounding mountain peaks.  I wonder what tomorrow will be like.  Regardless, today was an enjoyable and beautiful day.

Balloons for sale.

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3 Responses

  1. Thanks for the tour. Alot of Burqas. 🙂

  2. I’m glad to hear you had a nice sunny day today,.. it probally was long over due I’m sure. Hopefully it will repeat it self tomarrow too !!! I am really enjoying your stories, and having the oppertunity to learn from them,.. Keep Safe,.. HOOAH !!!

  3. Hi, I’ve been a lurker around your blog for a few months. I love this article and your entire site! Looking forward to reading more!

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