Here is a list of great places to go away for a weekend trip: the Hamptons. Cape Cod. Santa Barbara. Hilton Head. Mackinaw Island. Miami. You will notice that Kabul, Afghanistan is not on that list.

But I’m all about experiencing a little adventure, and I already live in Pakistan, so when I got the chance to go to Kabul, I thought…Afghanistan: can’t be that much more dangerous than Pakistan, right? An opportunity came up to go to check out a development project for the weekend, so I took it. I mean, you can handle anything for a year…would it really be so hard to live here? (Also, it is hard for me not to try anything once.)

Everything went fine for the first 16 hours or so of my trip: I met a lot of nice people at the compound, I had a nice lamb dinner, I went out for martinis at a bar called “Martinis.” (Not so much with the inventive names here, apparently.) I saw some cool huge Afghan dogs, everyone was paying for things in American dollars, which I hadn’t seen for months, and there were tons of expats running around looking like they were having fun. It made it a little easier to overlook all the barbed wire.

After getting to bed not so early, I was awakened at 6:30 in the morning by what sounded like the loudest crack of thunder I have ever heard in my life. I am never great in the morning at the best of times, but this rude awakening in a foreign country and unfamiliar bed (and the smoky smell) left me even more disoriented than usual. I wasn’t too out-of-it to stumble to the window, grabbing my camera as I went, to see what had happened. Just a few houses away, all that remains of what used to be a nearby guesthouse hotel is now a crater in the ground, and 16 people are dead from a car and suicide bomb attack.

Needless to say I didn’t leave my own guesthouse again all day, which means I didn’t see much of Kabul other than the inside of my room, and I will be leaving first thing in the morning. (You won’t see me shedding any tears about my quick departure.) So. What’s the message here. I would say I have learned the following important lessons in the last 24 hours: Afghanistan is a war zone. It IS, in fact, more dangerous than Pakistan (even if Pakistan isn’t exactly Poughkeepsie). Martinis in Kabul are very expensive. I like getting danger pay, but I don’t want to earn it. I miss Islamabad: my vegetable garden, my soft bed, my quiet neighborhood, and loud cracks of thunder that are really just thunder, rolling off the beautiful mountains.

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