Sunday, April 22, 2007

Mazar-e-Sharif

Spring in the desert - Mazar is famous for its April flowers


Me, in a bed of tulips


The famous shrine, called the Rosa3, at sunset


Entrance to the shrine





Pigeons...they say that all the pigeons that visit the shrine turn white

The drive to Mazar was beautiful, and about five hours after leaving Kunduz we arrived in the famous desert city. We stayed in a hotel that looked like a cross between the ultimate Afghan wedding palace and an amusement park - but at least it had air conditioning, and the wedding hall was in a separate building (not directly above our rooms).

I spent most of my time in Mazar in the city visiting partner organization and talking to them about their views of our program - what they like, what they'd like to change, etc... it was interesting. We did drive out to the desert to see the wild tulip beds, and we went the the shrine at sunset the day before we left and the following morning. It was HOT. While we were at the Mazar I got labeled as a Kharijee (foreigner) for trying to take pictures inside the shrine/mosque. I've never been in a mosque where you weren't allowed to take pictures, including the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Oh well, first they tried to kick me out completely, assuming that if I wasn't Afghan then I couldn't possibly be Muslim, but we convinced them to let me stay. I've also never been in a mosque that did not allow non-Muslims to enter, except during prayer times.

After a quick stop at the office we headed to the UN airstrip in Mazar to catch our flight back to Kabul. Now, these little airstrips are exactly what I used to envision for airports in the Congo - just a small building and a runway. The flight back was uneventful and my five day escape from Kabul ended too quickly. Luckily, I'm scheduled to head to Herat fairly soon, so I'll get to see the western most part of the country before I leave.

1 comment:

hamesha: said...

lovely pictures of Mela-i Guli Surkh..