So, not a lot of insightful thoughts today. Mostly picture pages. Here's a look at Nick and Liz's June 2010 in Kabul.
When Nick and I returned from home leave, we discovered that one of the Kabul Kitties had given birth to 4 kittens: one orange and white striped, one black and white spotted, one grey and white striped, and one calico. Given how different the kittens look I think Mommy Cat might be a bit of a tramp, although I leave it to Toad to educate me on cat genetics.
The British Ball took place about 2 weeks after we got back from home leave. With dinner, dancing, and way too much to drink, we were almost able to forget that we were in Kabul with 12 more months to go before the end of our tour.
We went to the Ball with a bunch of friends, including the lovely lady pictured below. That's Go, my awesome running buddy. She kept me company on my pre-3oth birthday half marathon (which I did finish, in about 2.5 hours under the blazing Kabul sun. And then two weeks later Go went and finished the Kabul Marathon in just about 5 hours, never mind the nasty stomach bug that kept her from eating for 5 days prior to the race. Show off).
A week after the Ball I spoke at the USAID-sponsored Afghan First conference, held at a hotel high on a hill on the outskirts of Kabul. The conference served to educate Afghan business owners about contracting opportunities with the USG. I was bombarded with questions that weren't really questions about USAID's stabilization programming ("The river cleaning program you did in City X. I do not think that was a good program." Okay, thanks!), with business cards from construction company owners, and with requests to pose for pictures with said business owners. And I spent 3 hours under a head scarf in a stifling hot conference hall. What was good about the conference? As always, the chance to leave the compound and get a different view of Kabul (and the air was remarkably clear that day!)
Lastly, at the very end of the month, Nick and I and my friend Sarah got to go out on a Thursday night for an "official" event -- a party at the Serena Hotel (Kabul's only 5 star hotel!) to celebrate the launch of Safi Airline's new plane. It was another night that was so pleasant as to almost make me forget where I was. The Serena would be a beautiful hotel in any city -- the fact that it's in Kabul only heightens its appeal. We sat in a lovely courtyard at tables with white tablecloths, sipping fruit juice and enjoying the sunset and a warm summer (dust free, for once!) breeze. We chatted with tablemates. Nick chatted up the Deputy Minister of Finance. We listened to some speeches and scored some Safi swag.