Reporting Afghanistan

John Wendle

under swimming pool hill

with one comment

Directly behind our compound – past spools of barbed wire and high walls – stands Swimming Pool Hill.

A boy fights his kite on Swimming Pool Hill

A boy fights his kite on Swimming Pool Hill

Possibly the best known picture from the top of this hill can be found here – http://www.bop.nppa.org/2006/still_photography/winners/ENT/61720/119041.html – from the 2006 National Press Photo Awards.

Kites swirl and fight each other in the 97F heat

Kites swirl and fight each other in the 97F heat

Because we’re not allowed out and because I only just started the new job, I couldn’t get up top to take photos. But from my bedroom window and from atop the poppy palace I’m staying in [described in the previous blog] I have a view of one flank of the hill – which is covered in tumbledown headstones of countless graves.

No water stands in the pool today, but children still flock to the hill to fly kites in intricate battles – trying to cut the string of their opponents kite with their own.

Two boys race across the hillside for a slowly falling kite

Two boys race across the hillside for a slowly falling kite

The kite strings are coated in resin and then ground glass. Younger boys chase down the kites that have had their strings cut. They are called kite runners. As kite after

A boy runs down through the graves with his just-retrieved prize

A boy runs down through the graves with his just-retrieved prize

kite gently floats down on the hot, dusty [the most recent piece of received knowledge among security contractors is that 30% of the dust in the air is human

feces because of poor sanitation] Kabul air, childen run among the graves and down well worn paths before snatching at the colorful kites.

Two kites spiral around each other in a fight in front of the mountains that surround Kabul

Two kites spiral around each other in a fight in front of the mountains that surround Kabul

Taking photos has been the only relaxing thing to do since I arrived here [besides watching hours of youtube videos – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UIqRxzgtyo – to get a feeling for what Helmand is like].

The city spreads up the surrounding moutain sides

The city spreads up the surrounding moutain sides

Taking pix is hard though, because I’m in a pretty small area. I leave for Helmand tomorrow at 12 noon. I can’t wait to go.

I’ve heard its pretty dicey down there right now, but I want to get working and get thinking.

The view from on top of the palace is so absorbing though, that its difficult to think about the work

In the neighborhood below the hill

In the neighborhood below the hill

tomorrow. I’m all packed [photo gear, computer, body armor, helmet and clothes to last for a few months – and Oreos, chocolate and deodorant – since the US army PX in

Kabul, which is a few hundred feet higher than Boulder, has a population estimated at 2.5 million

Kabul, which is a few hundred feet higher than Boulder, has a population estimated at 2.5 million

Lashkar Gah is extremely expensive] and have nothing else to do – so I stand and look.

Mountains rise up in every direction. Small, mud brick homes wash up against the hillsides and the farthest mountains are obscured by a thick wash of brown dust. Helicopters chop by and a dirigible-shaped balloon rises strangely and menacingly over the city. It is there day and night – immovable in the still air. Security contractors tell me it carries a security camera.

Last full day in Kabul

Last full day in Kabul

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Written by johnwendle

August 28, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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