The "Great" Masoud
Boy, did I have a long day, this last Juma.  It started out dull enough, with me not knowing what to do, but fortunately, some of my house mates were kind enough to invite me out on a little road trip.  This one took me farther outside of Kabul than before.  Well, beyond the gaze of the fella up above, the "Great" Massoud.  Bit of a wanker if you ask me, but the Tadjiks love him.

The road we went on was a "two lane highway", which was really just two roads next to each other divided rocks and surrounded by burnt out armour.

This one didn't make it
See what I mean?  Very few of the vehicles worked at all.  No worries, because the locals usually found a good use for most of the parts as that one demonstrated.  Most immediately noticible was the conversion of tank treads in to speed bumps.  They work wonderfully.  Tank treads combined with massive pot holes (aka craters) made sure that this 30 km journey took an hour and a half.  This road is what is called around here "secure".
Sky guard
See what I mean?

There were stops along the way.  In one place, we stopped off and where immediately mobbed by children.  You see, there are many many children in Afghanistan.  In fact, we passed by one mountain and one of the people in the car said "That's Mt. Children".  And I looked closer and I could see why.  The mountain was made up entirely of children!
Mob of children
The tall lad on the right nearly made off with my camera.  When I let him see his picture on the display he reckoned it was a gift and gingerly put it in his pocket.  He wasn't being cute, he was being a borderline theif.  Fortunately, he was just playing, or didn't think he could get away with it, so I got it back.  I don't remember his first name, but according to my fellow Dari speaking travellers, his last name was "belongs to no one."  I suppose our lad is an orphan.  Not an easy job.

Other than the tense moment with the budding criminal, the children and I had a lot of fun learning each others name.  There were so many, I could not keep up.  But at least they all found it easy learning my name.
Shortly after that, we drove past these areas inhabited by tent dwellers.  These are the Afghani nomads.  They still do not live in permanent settlements.  "These guys might be dangerous" said the Dari speaking Engineer before asking the Imperial Shuttle to stop so that we might get out and take photographs of them.  They were nice enough, also had lots of children, but none of them tried to take my camera, or anything else.
The river
Just around the bend from the nomads we found our destination.  A river that runs past a village that I believe was called Sayad.  Like the other resorts I've been to, this one is boys only.  If you are woman you should feel indignant.

Immediately the obligitory cloud of children descended upon us and pretty much hovered around for the rest of the day.  Not a sort of dull staring hover, although sometimes they did that too, but rather a whistling, tumbling, fighting and screaming way.

Not to miss the opportunity to show off, a few of them showed us how to have an easy time floating down the river.
He is actually inflating his trousers
This one up there is demonstrating to everyone how to inflate your own trousers.  You wouldn't think it works but it does.  First he gets his trousers all wet, then tucks them in, like so.  As you can see, he then blows air in to his trousers to inflate it.
Like so
Apparently it works.  One of our 50+ year old travelers managed to repeat the experiment, however it was much cuter when the kid did it.

There were also a handful of Afghani farmers nearby who wanted us to go hunting with them for the fearsome Afghani mountain goats.  Of course, we had to oblige so we spent several days and nights riding over the crags and peaks, through the dusty valleys and all the while ducking government and coalition patrols.
My faithful steed
I had not ridden a horse in absolute ages, and I wonder why the hell haven't I been doing that all the time! I don't think I ever even went that fast on a horse before.  Bleeding exhilerating.  I'll have to remember to do it again some time soon.  Of course, it might not be as neat as being an Afghani Horseman for a bit.

For dinner, we went to the bazaar across the bridge to get a large pan of "fresh" fish fried up.  This took a long time, and there was arguing over Afghani oil.  Our very presence attracted loads of attention, which is probably the dumbest thing to do seeing as there are people running all over the place trying to kill the likes of us.

Returning to the river side, we ate much of the fish and then gave the rest to some of these guys...

Cloud of children
That sort of created a scene.  I don't think they have been tought polite manners yet.  Well, after that, we definitely got on their even better sides.  Now there were truely emboldened to hang around us.  But the fun didn't stop.  We had a few lovely melons, which we did our best to share with them, although we did drop some of their share on the ground resulting in another mob scene.

There was a wee lass among them, but she was mostly too shy to stick up for herself.  I don't blame her.  Those boys are rough.  All I can say to that is that the meek shall inherit the largest piece of melon.
A moment of order
Eventually, we established some order upon this cloud of ruffians, boys and girl alike.  It didn't last very long.

Alas, shadows grew long and it was time to say good bye.  A genius in our party decided to give each one of the children a 5 Afghani note.  It was done in an orderly fashion, but was the scene of many children repeating themselves in to the line.  Even the girls got some cash.  We departed after this awkward moment was finished.

I quickly saw my friend who belongs to no one when we passed by his village again.  He was surrounded by armed people so we didn't stop to say hi.

We took an alternative route home, this  one "less secure", although dotted with police outposts.  We breifly stopped at the side of the road for some of the more unruly passengers (myself not included) to relieve themselves next to these beautiful markers.
Do you know this international symbol?
No less than three cars and too bikes stopped to shout at them for wazing in a mine field.

After that was all done, we loaded back in the Shuttle and pegged it 120 km/hr through the darkness down a straight road back to Kabul.