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February 2, 2003

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How can we leave Kabul? Planes are unreliable. The ticket office in the Intercontinental keeps changning its story about flights; planes should be going yet no one can say when. Rather than play Afghan Air roulette, we learn that a bus delivers international papers from Pakistan and returns there every morning at 5 AM. Since most information in Kabul comes by hearsay, all we know is that this bus delivers its papers to a store in northern Kabul. We jump in a cab, confuse the driver with charades about newspapers (he doesn't speak English), and direct this man, who thinks we're crazy foreigners, up and down the city blocks in an aimless search to track down a rumor about a bus to the border. After a few "you-must-be-loco" looks from various store owners, in a store with english newspapers we receive a positive, casual nod to our question, "Autobus Pakistan?" We peruse an almost up-to-date NY times, buy an Afghan history book, and purchase a one-way ticket on their bus for a ride to Peshawar, the nearest major city in Pakistan. We had to buy an extra seat for an armed guard. The Pakistan government requires that visitors hire an armed bodyguard for travel thru the tribal areas of the Northwestern Frontier. Once we reach the Pakistan border we'll meet our guard but we have to buy a ticket for him here in Afghanistan to keep an open seat.
Shop for carpets, the going rate is $50 per square meter for a high quality, handmade work.
Kabul's old fortress, built by Babur in the sixteen century, last used by Taliban as a rocket launching pad against the city.