Since I’ve been here, the things I see and do are simply part of life. One day, I might see a father bicycling on the traffic-strewn road while his 3 yr old son calmly holds onto him from behind. Another day, I see a cart with bags of vegetables being pulled by a mule, and at a second glance, I realize that the young boys sitting among the vegetables aren’t actually driving the cart, no one is. The mule just plods along the road, having memorized the route. And another day, the traffic might be so bad that my driver takes me “over the hill” along the deeply rutted dirt road, which switchbacks through illegal mud huts, where I see both the Kabul skyline and women with children hauling water up the hill in every size container you can find.

Those are everyday occurrences, and I revel in being fascinated by such simple things. I try to put off the inevitability of feeling these are everyday sights and sounds.

It’s similar to my experience of moving to Washington, D.C. Everyone is going about their daily lives, and everywhere I looked I saw beautiful, historic buildings, homeless men pushing carts, and government officials going to work to do important things. And then some days, I would purposely play the role of tourist so I felt free to gawk and revel in it all.

Surprisingly, there are attempts to bring tourists to some areas of Afghanistan. I recently went to a cafe, which had a several page color brochure for what to see and do in one of the Afghan provinces. It was really well done, including key phrases in the local language, historical significance of the region, descriptions of the types of people living there, various hiking routes, a map, and when to go (particularly important since there are really only 4 months out of the year when it has both good weather and passable roads).

However, due to security concerns my day-to-day is pretty tightly restricted. No bus hopping or hiking adventures. But today, we had a field trip, which took us to the Kabul Museum. At one time, it had quite an impressive collection. Now the most impressive thing to me was the pictures of the building after bombings compared to what it is today. The collection included a lot around Buddha, and the flower garden (including the ancient train engine) was beautiful to walk around. Here are a few pic from the little touristy excursion.

Original museum wall carvings

Coupling up

Roses, train engine, ruined buildings

Additional security posted for our touristy excursion