We arrived in Kabul early Tuesday morning, at least we think it was Tuesday. We tried desperately to stay awake as long as we could and then crash--trying to get used to the new time zone.
We flew in on "the best airline in Afghanistan." Not sure, but we think this was supposed to make us feel more confident. The 5 of us were seated in the exit row. Unfortunately, there were only 4 seats -- the window seats were removed because of the exit door. Guess they didn't realize that when they assigned one of us the window seat. Anyway, at some point during the 2-hour flight, a man crawled up and laid down in the aisle created between my seat and the non-existent seat -- right there in front of the emergency exit and the big sign that said don't block exit! Our leader of the excursion immediately pointed out to the flight attendant how bad it was to have the emergency exit blocked while we were flying. She saw the man and said, "Oh, no!!", and then went up to talk to the pilot.
We were sure it would be handled by one of the men in charge, but a few minutes later she came back and said to us the pilot told her "no problem, big engine." Huh? That's supposed to make us feel certain we won't have to use the emergency exit? OK, then! On to Kabul!
The city itself shows the scars of decades of war and oppression. The poverty is indescribable. We don't understand anything about real poverty in the United States, and these people have no government assistance; no food stamps, no welfare, no free medical care. On the drive from the airport, our leader pointed out a middle class housing complex, which made our worst housing projects look like million dollar mansions!
The streets were filled with pedestrians, animals, carts and donkeys, buses, cars, and rickshaws...and POTHOLES! There are no rules of the road, so it's a free-for-all. The only rule seems to be "honk at least 20 times a minute so everyone knows where you are." There aren't even traffic lanes, so you just drive where there is a free spot and barrel your way in. We saw a lot of cars with dents and scrapes and broken side mirrors!
When we got to the Women's Center and had all our introductions, we had a great lunch of typical Afghan fare while sitting around the floor, Afghan style -- like a big picnic! The people we've met so far are really wonderful. The Center is a typical Afghan home -- a house and yard surrounded by a large cement wall. We even have 2 chokidoors (guards) and an interpreter -- one of the chokidoors and our interpreter will go with us everywhere.
We had a tour of the Women's Center and Embroidery Project showrooms. The work of the ladies is incredibly beautiful. We get to meet all of them on Thursday when they come to bring us their new merchandise.
We had planned on uploading pictures to go with our blog, but the internet here is very slow at night, and it's taking so long to try to upload pictures, we'll have to save that for another time or add them later.
We'll post more tomorrow. Stop back by keep up with our visit.