The trucks from Turkey onward are brightly painted and decorated. The drivers create the designs themselves. Mostly patterns, but some have mountains and sunsets. On the bus (men in front, women in the back, me somewhere in the middle). Woke up at sunrise in a desert-like environment. Dry cracked mud, houses of mud, entire mud villages. Arrived at Mashad at around 10 am. Took a taxi–well, a yellow open landrover–to another bustling crowded bus station…
Nomad no man’s land to Islam Qala, the afghan-iranan border. in the customs shop, a sign reads: “You have any hash, better dump it all out, quickly and quietly. otherwise we’ll find it and bust you. if we don’t the iranians will, and Allah, help you then, baby.” Alongside, a showcase of broken up, discovered hiding places with name, date, nationality, and substance. Hiding places included behind a mirror, in soles of shoes, inside a backpack frame, inside the engine of a truck, and so it goes on…..
It was 12 noon, and the border wasn’t open unitl 2 pm. bought an expensive coca cola and got talking to the shop keeper. he found us a ride with an iranian driver in a petroleum truck. the border policeman wrote my name in farsi. an afghani hitched a ride with us to herat. the truck had 2 seats and a bed behind. playboy pictures decorated the interior of the cab. a huge vat of watered down coke completed the mobile home. we spread out on the bed seat for the next two days.
Made a pit stop in a bathroom full of flies. had to step over a patch of mud, a contorted bicycle, and various rusty cans to get to the hole in the ground. Clouds of hash smoke and cups of chai….i became fascinated by a fly eating a piece of sugar, holding the crystal between its front legs…as if i was watching it under a microscope. suddenly, all the men in the chai shop got up and rushed out to catch a truck.
The road is dead straight, reinforced with strips of black tarmac that causes bumps at every meter along the way. the road from herat to kandahar is also straight, but it has potholes. the landscape is breathtaking–clouds, water, a man in the middle of a field, dressed in white, praying in the sunset. a road lined with fir trees, mud villages, sunflowers, patches of bright green grass, donkeys carrying straw bales; you can only see their ears and legs sticking out. we saw about two cars every half hour. that’s it for traffic.
Stopped around 7 pm and washed in a roadside stream. thoughts for some split seconds–situations happen and the moment of decision (if there is one) depends on self and how one interprets what is happening…then the thoughts flow into darkness. we stopped for the night about 60km outside of kandahar. slept on a wooden platform on top of the tank. woke up at sunrise to the sound of a barefoot afghan woman taking her sheep to graze. she wore a maroon-colored dress with black veil and she ran across the rocks. A field of camels, standing still, with morning mist up to their knees.