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Our Officer in the Area of Operations sends along observations and impressions from his first day in Kabul:
Very first impression walking from the C-130 to the bus for transport to the passenger terminal … looks just like Las Vegas. By that I mean it’s HOT and all the mountains that surround Las Vegas are dark brown, rocky and without vegetation. Additionally, in some cases you can see urban sprawl climbing up the mountain sides. Now in Afghanistan, urban sprawl is more mud huts and walls predominantly although in one certain spot, very modern looking homes with swimming pools were visible.
Random [observations]: Third world poverty, chaos, fresh fruit stands everywhere, stray dogs & cats everywhere, open sewage pouring from buildings, garbage piles being shoveled into trucks by garbage collectors for disposal, children everywhere giving the convoy “thumbs up,” enormous, spine-jolting potholes, traffic circles where traffic doesn’t move for 5 minutes, no driving rules whatsoever, road construction, security checkpoints in front of all compounds, office buildings, major businesses and construction companies, horse-drawn carts of watermelons and flowers, goats and sheep crossing the road randomly with no visible shepherd.
[B]eing in the armored RV, I couldn’t smell anything but it had to smell bad. The children were all smiling and 90% of them waved and gave our convoy “Thumbs up.” There were some young boys who gave us the finger. Most adults just stared, especially the women escorting their children. School had just gotten out across Kabul and there were children everywhere … playing in the street, kicking a soccer ball, using sticks for a sword fight. There are shops in Afghanistan for everything. Then, in front of most shops, are just small stands that sell everything, too, especially fresh fruit and vegetables. Kabob houses and bakeries dominate the landscape. We were constantly stuck in traffic. The gunners on top of the HUMVEEs were always scanning their appropriate sectors.