I went to Afghanistan for work, and it’s definitely a unique experience. As you may imagine, there isn’t much in way of tourism.
Because of security, it’s not possible to go exploring, but when you’re in a car you see glimpses of normal life: market stalls piled high with fruit, carpet sellers and all sorts of shops. But there are also plenty of security alerts and military helicopters flying overhead.
After a few days in Kabul, I flew to Masar-i-Sharif, where everyone wanted to meet us, and make sure we were well fed (we were). It was 42 degrees when we arrived and wearing a headscarf doesn’t help.
Gender segregation is very much a thing. Women don’t speak up often, and men and women are usually separated in social contexts.
Veggie food in Afghanistan is not the norm, but the dishes that are available are delicious and well-seasoned. Afghanistan is famous for its fruit, and people are proud about it: we tried melons, mangoes and peach, and everything was delicious.
In the streets of Masar you see goats, decorated tuk-tuks, and carpets being washed. Things look like they’re from a different time. At sunset, children take to the rooftops to fly kites – everyone is just trying to have a normal life.
When time came to leave to London, the sun was rising and fresh bread was being laid out for sale. I thought of this quote by Maya Angelou:
“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”Maya Angelou