Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Still satisfied....

It's insane how happy my Panjshir pictures make me:

Crossing the wobbly bridge to the HLZ (helo landing zone) in Astana. While carrying 40 lbs of gear and facing 25 mph gusts of wind. Photo credit: Katherine Haddon

I think I look like a war correspondent. Please note the wreckage of the Russian chopper in the background....

Sunday, May 29, 2011


You guys, I saw Afghanistan this weekend.

I know what you're thinking. But Liz, you've been in Afghanistan for 18 months. You've been seeing it for the past year and a half. What in the world are you talking about?

I'm talking about this.

This weekend, I went to Panjshir. Picturesque, secure, awe-inspiring. The Province that gave birth to Ahmed Shah Massoud, which resisted both Soviet and Taliban occupation.

The province where my nascent squat toilet skills weren't needed....because I was mostly peeing in holes in the ground over running streams.

It was clean. It was rustic. It wasn't Kabul. It was exactly what I needed in order to make it through these next two weeks.

It was everything I expected Afghanistan to be.

Old Russian Tank

Villagers in Shahr Bland village

Shahr Bland elder

Snack from....and bare feet of...our lovely hosts in Shahr Bland. Yes, the server is walking where the food is served.

Old Russian artillery something or other

Curious kids in Shahr Bland

Monday, May 23, 2011

Kabul Randomness

Things that have happened since we've been back from Australia:

  • a good sized earthquake

  • three Duck & Cover alarms, only one of which was for a real attack (the attack on the military hospital). The other two seem to have been false alarms.....at 12:30am and 1am.

  • I got recruited to join yet another working group, even though I told the chair that I'm only going to be in Kabul for 17 more days

  • I turned 31

  • I "made out" with a man who is not my husband, while my husband watched........I was in a play, people! Get your minds out of the gutter.

  • I walked out of my apartment yesterday morning and ran into Ambassador Todd (one of the five Ambassadors here). He was walking with 3-star General Allyn (A3), P4's replacement. A3 was trailed by a few 1-star generals. I chatted with Ambassador Todd as we walked toward the Embassy, where a squad of Marines was waiting for a meet & greet with A3. Just as we reached the Marines, P4 himself (and his squad of escorts) came running around the corner, out for his morning run. Then Ambassador Wayne came out of the Embassy. To recap, I started my morning yesterday surrounded by a 4-star, a 3-star, a few 1-stars, and two Ambassadors. Quite the nexus of power....and only in Kabul.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

To Elizabeth, on her 31st birthday

I would like to have written a long and reflective -- or at least short and funny -- post on the occasion of my 31st birthday. Alas I am too busy being a communications officer/program officer/program manager (only one of which is actually my job) to eke out more than a few words.

So much for my grand plan of extracting myself from my job in anticipation of departing post (23 sleeps)! I thought I was so smart: Nick and I would go on a nice, long 3-week leave, returning to Kabul with only 30 days left to go in our assignment. We'd already be out of the loop after being away for such a long time, so we would simply make it a point NOT to get back in the loop in order to focus our attention on departing post.

But the best laid plans.....

Anyway, I have pictures and notes galore to share about our Australia trip. I have my fingers crossed that I'll have time to get them up before we depart post. But at this rate, the odds are not good. Right now, I'm just hoping that I'll make it out of the office tonight in time and with enough energy remaining to enjoy my own birthday party.

Off to write my 3,756th email of the day.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Farewell to Oz

I went for a run late yesterday afternoon. This was my view.

Nick and I went for a bike ride on Friday. This was our view.

Nick and I went hiking the other week. This was our view.

Thanks for showing us a good time Australia. We'll be back....as soon as our wallets recover!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Kangaroo Song

No time to write a full post, as we were up early for a tour of the Great Ocean Road. But here are some pics of a few friends we made during our visit to Fremantle.