But I did upload some photos to my Flickr account from our ride at Nuerburgring. That was my first full day home. It was the anti-Afghanistan experience.
Next leave: around June 23, for only 10 days that time.
It's Thursday, and I'm sitting in Dubai airport as I write this, across from a combination Baskin Robbins and Dunkin Donuts. Three hours until I can go to the transfer desk and get the shuttle -- a shuttle which many will tell you does not exist -- to Terminal 2, then another three hour wait until the flight.
I'm trying not to sit here and fume at Wells Fargo right now. I called them back in February to make certain my credit card would work in Dubai. They assured me it would, and that there was now a special notice on it that purchases from Dubai were cleared. And, ofcourse, I just tried to use it and it was declined. Always a humiliating experience...
Oh, and now some Australian kid just threw her book up into the air and it almost hit me. At least the parents were angry at their child -- I was expecting the usual "isn't that cute?" comment or "our child must be gifted to display her emotions so vividly!"
The nonprofit organization I wrote about earlier, beyondthe11th.org, has brought another nonprofit to my attention: It's called Arzu (meaning "hope" in Dari) and it's a not-for-profit organization that aims to provide sustainable income to Afghan women by sourcing and selling the carpets they weave. Beyond the 11th has just given the Afghan group a $30,000 grant to help fund several on-going programs, such as a bonus paid to widows on completion of the rugs and the purchase of looms for them, literacy classes and a scholarship to post-secondary education for girls.
I keep including these references to nonprofit organizations working in and for Afghanistan because so many of you ask how you can help.
Geesh but I hate this airport!! I'd go sit in the quiet lounge, conveniently located right next to Baskin Robbins/Dunkin Donuts, except I just know I'll fall asleep and miss my flight. And then I would have to wait two days for the next one. Yikes.
Now, I'm writing from Kabul, on Friday. As you all know, my luggage is still in Dubai. I trusted the airport transfer desk to get my bag where it needed to go after all, they had more than five hours to do it, and they had done it before, the first time I went to Kabul. And the guy at the transfer desk which is not called that on any sign but, instead, is under a sign called "All Connecting Flights", and he sits on the far left of the desk and is the ONLY person in the Dubai airport who has ever heard of the UNHAS flights was so confident that my bag would be there. He checked it on the computer TWICE for me, five hours and three hours before my flight.
Well, I won't make that mistake again... next time, I'll lug the dang thing from baggage claim all around the airport for five hours or more until my flight.
My buddy Michael (who has a new book, "Collie J" Grambling's Man with the Golden Pen), asked: "So, going back tougher than going the first time? That was my experience returning to Vietnam from R&R in the states."
In many ways, yes, absolutely. It was MUCH harder to say goodbye to Stefan -- I had to really fight the tears. It was much harder to wait for the flight, because my sense of adventure for this just wasn't there this time around. But, on the other hand, I navigated the Dubai airport like a pro, and when I got to baggage claim in Kabul and realized my bag wasn't there, I cussed like a sailor -- I didn't care anymore -- and my how the Afghani men backed away in fear. No one bothered me any more as I left the airport (beware the scary American woman). And I was happy that the UN driver was there and gave me a hearty, manly handshake -- I like when I'm an honorary man here, rather than a woman-who-is-to-be-ignored-or-leered-at.
I'm glad I came back on a Thursday, so I didn't have to go right to work the next day. I spent Friday loading up my computer with good music from home, and even dared to walk over to Kabul City Center with a Belgian guy and a German guy who are staying here at Assa 2. Yes, that's right -- I went well outside my 150 meter zone around the guest house -- curse security, I'm going to lose my mind if I stay holed up here every Friday. I bought some movies and a fabulous shirt that provides an excellent b*tt curtain. And the whole experience immediately put me in a good mood. By the end of the day Friday, I felt really ready to go back to work and face the next six weeks.
Two songs I've listened to a million times have sounded totally different to me here-- they've now got new meaning. Both are Merle Haggard songs, covered by others. One is "Big City Turn Me Loose, And Set Me Free." Opening lyrics:
I'm tired of this dirty old city Entirely too much work and never enough play I'm tired of these dirty old sidewalks Think I'll walk off my steady job today So turn me loose and set me free Somewhere in the middle of Montana And give me all I got coming to me...The other is "I can't be myself when I'm with you." And "you" is, ofcourse, Kabul...
I've touched base and remembered who I am and that I've got a lot of strength in me, and that I'm loved, and therefore, I'm getting through this Afghanistan experience, even if I have to do major non-culturally-sensitive *ss kickin' along the way.
I am woman, hear me roar...
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