Hello from Charles De Gaulle Internationale Airport (that’s EhrrPorrrr in French). Calvin and I are out of Afghanistan and on our way back to the world of air conditioning, slow lanes, and one wife per dude.
So the last day went pretty well. Calvin and I enjoyed the remaining 4 group presentations all presented “In the Name of Allah.” It seems that group dynamics are a challenge no matter what your circumstances and a number of groups wrestled with personality differences and not just gender dynamics. The closing ceremony was short and sweet with some heartfelt certificate presentations. We were included in lots of farewell photos and the obligatory cup of tea. I received lots of comments on my new Jama and waistcoat (I think mostly in good humor). I’ve been testing out a few Dari phrases and I think that and trying the clothing and food goes a long way toward offsetting many cultural faux pas.
We also wrapped up our cash dispersement for our “dealer” Ajay. Ajay is our Man in the ‘Ghan and since the country is still 99% a cash economy he asks everyone coming from the States to mule up on greenbacks so he can keep his project liquified. Everything from food to batteries to farm machinery is paid for in wads of US dollars. I must say after spending a week strolling the avenues of Kabul with 4 Gs of Benjamins strapped to my belly it was a quiet relief to offload what few bills we had left.
We had an interesting take-off in Kabul. As we hit full thrust on the runway the plane started pitching and yawning in a somewhat unsettling manner. It righted itself on clearing the runway and Calvin and I just exchanged relieved glances and reopened our reads. About 15 minutes in the pilot announces that we took off in the middle of an earthquake. Calvin and I exchange glances again - this time with raised eyebrows - before shrugging and returning to our novels. I guess a week in Kabul traffic is a cure for even the most nervous of flyers.
The SAFI airlines flight (Kabul to Moscow coming soon!) was actually pretty good both ways. The dinner we had (beef! that’s like not lamb or chicken right?) was great and both flights ran on time. I can’t say the same for Air France. What a cluster. First the food was a little wierd and not in a French homey way either. The yoghurt was well wierd (in every way) - a little eff-tu to the Americanne insophisticantes no doubt.
Making our way from Kabul towards home I think we’re on track to break some kind of record in airport security screening. There were about four screening points in Kabul alone including one mob of extremely curt no-nonense Afghani women. Then Dubai and now the French are having their turn - of course something as mundane as airport security still needs the French cultural stamp so everything from your laptop to the elastic on your underwear needs to go through the x-ray (bloody frogs).
Now after the security quirks our flight is being continually moved and delayed with minimal explanation (in English at least). Still this has allowed time for Calvin and I to contribure to the Euro Zone debt crisis by being fleeced at the local ehrrrporr cafe with $8 espressos and $10 croissants. We fortunately have a decent layover in Salt Lake City to give us some wiggle room. I’m sure we’ll have more to report then.