Sunday, December 19, 2010

Eating Wrong in Afghanistan - 3 stories from the old days

I am using my current trip to Afghanistan to tell some stories from my first time here in the 70's.  One of the coolest things is that I traveled by myself and my parents and girlfriend (now my perfect wife) had only a vague idea of where I was going.  I also didn't carry a camera because taking pictures was too... I don't know, but I am sure I had some 70's hippie theory.  I wish I had photos, so for this entry I am using some taken by others. The stories are mine and the photos are accurate.

I recall getting sick here in Afghanistan years ago.  It is always a little more intimidating when you are traveling by yourself since you have to solve your own problems.  I am traveling alone now too but lots of people know where I am.  On my first trip, I was truly on my own.  I remember feeling the need to use the toilet (a hole in the ground which sometimes had the luxury of an adjacent water bucket) and going in there to find no solid result.  I would go back to hang with my fellow travelers and immediately feel the same urge again. Very irritating.  I got my Afghan friend Jahlil to get me some opium which, instead of smoking, I rolled up and ate.  I slept for two days and woke up completely stopped up. That was in Herat.
I remember in Kandahar eating food cooked by the street vendors who would put plates of hot food out on a blanket.  I clearly remember having to wave off the flies to see what it was and then digging in.  I couldn’t do that now.
One friend did get quite sick. He was a Brit named Nigel who wore yellow tinted granny glasses.  He hadn’t been feeling very well and we were all sitting around talking and he took off his glasses.  We all looked at each other thinking, “who is going to tell Nigel that the whites of his eyes are the color of his glasses”; almost as if the sun had burned the color of the glasses right through to his eyes.  We got him to the Kabul hospital and he had hepatitis.  Unfortunately there was some hassle with the UK who wouldn’t let him come back until he got healthy and the Afghans who wanted him gone since he was also dead broke.  Don’t really remember how that one turned out but I am sure he was ok.

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