Saturday, December 09, 2006
Today was one of the best days that I've had since I arrived in Kabul. It started around 9 am, when I picked up Ian and we headed to the Intercontinental Hotel. I went to the Intercontinental for lunch a few weeks ago and noticed that next to the hotel, which is one of the higher points in the city, there is a path that leads up to a scenic view. So, after a little car haggling (too many staff, not enough cars) we got dropped off at the hotel. Unfortunately, it was cloudy (and smoggy) today, so we didn't have as good of a view as I had hoped, but I still got some great pictures. Oddly, on the path just behind the hotel there is a small graveyard. We didn't stay on the path for too long - the windchill was brutal that high up. So, after about 15 minutes we admitted defeat and had breakfast at the hotel before heading to our next destination - Shah Books.
Before the bookstore, we made a small detour to pick up two of our consultants who were heading to the office for work. Because traffic was horrendous, we took a detour through one of the oldest parts of the city. The street that we drove down was full of old, crumbling buildings with stores on the bottom level. Most of the stores were bakeries, and they had traditional bread ovens in the front area, facing the street. The ovens look a lot like kilns. Then we stopped on Chicken Street, the infamously overpriced tourist shopping area, so that one of our consultants could pay off the carpet seller she'd bought several rugs from. Chicken St. was off limits when I arrived in September because of all the bombings that were happening in Kabul at the time. There was a bomb that went off on Chicken St. this year, killing one international (American, I think) and one Afghan. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the flamboyantly colorful street, but I'm sure I'll get another chance. . .
Some of you may have read The Bookseller of Kabul, well, today I met him (he's the owner of Shah Books). I also spent about an hour and half drooling over all of his books. . . He also totally ripped us off, charging full price for obviously used books, but since English books are something of a commodity I wasn't complaining. I was very restrained and only bought 4 books, including The Clockwork Orange, which I'm embarrassed to say I haven't read previously. Mr. Shah speaks wonderful English, but he was far more interested in talking to Ian than myself, which is fine because I was far more interested in his books!
After the bookstore we headed home for lunch and picked up Nathan and Matt. Then we drove out to a lake and golf course about 20 minutes outside of the city. This is the first time that I've been out of the city since my trip to Jalalabad. The entire area was covered with about 3-4 inches of crusted over snow, and Tashi (Tilly's dog) and I had a great time crunching through it to get down to the lake. The area was cleared of mines a year or so ago, but we were careful to stay in areas where we could see other people's tracks. I don't think I can describe how wonderful it felt to be outside, walking around, away from the smog and city traffic. . . Tashi had a good time too, although I had to keep her on a short leash because of all the stray dogs around. It was especially nice because it was cold enough that there weren't too many people around. I'm sure it is beautiful in the warmer weather, and I'm equally sure that it is thronged. . . Half the fun was not having to worry about behaving inappropriately because there was hardly anyone around. . .
After we got home we all huddled around the fireplace and drank tea before watching a movie.
at 9:15 AM