Two days now we’ve been in Afghanistan. “What has been surprising or different for you guys?” Mr. Incredible asked them this morning at breakfast.
Dash said, “I’m surprised that there are cars! I thought we’d have to walk everywhere and that everything would be burned down. It’s more built up then I thought.”
Violet said, “I didn’t think the houses would be so nice and getting kissed on the cheek by Afghan ladies isn’t so horrible, like I thought.”
Yes, it’s hot and dusty and so far from home, but these kids of mine are astonishing in their ability to be at home every leg of this journey.
They played with ease at a park in downtown London. Although Violet had no idea what my friend meant when she asked her if she wore “whellies” when it rained and Jack Jack didn’t know what to do when our other friend asked him if he liked his chips when he was clearly eating french fries.
The guest house in Dubai was full of new books and toys and a swimming pool, and while they were constantly confused by the weather (what kind of place is it that you can’t run outside without burning your feet??) they rested well there. Comedian Jon Stewart said Dubai is what you get if Las Vegas and Saudi Arabia had a child. It’s hot, humid and full of countless shopping malls, each one grander and more outrages than the last. “Guest workers” a euphemism for slave laborers work in the intense heat while uber wealthy expats, locals and those like us who are just passing through, meander the air conditioned temples of consumerism. A few days of Dubai in a daze of jet lag is enough for anyone!
And there is no greater cultural and economic shock than the three hour plane ride that has you departing from one of the richest places on earth and depositing you in one of the poorest (I’ve heard the flight from Miami to Port au Prince is similarly whiplashing). But for us, it is like putting on comfortable clothes again. The chaos of a third world airport, the lurching stop and go traffic through the city, the herds of goats and little boys that jam up the side streets — felt welcoming instead of disorienting and we are relishing the feeling of coming home.
The kids were immediately at home and I think that has as much to do with the climate as anything else. Kabul is about the same elevation as Denver and they were so pleased to run outside after dinner and play in the cool evening air, on grass surrounded by rose gardens until the mosquitoes came out. Jack Jack has made friends with every guest and staff person he’s met, charmed them all with his ready hand shake, hugs good night and he’s totally won the Afghan driver over with his adoration of the small Chinese motorcycle that sits in the driveway.
Also, there is now soy milk available in a local grocery store.
What can you say after that? This place rocks.