Feature: Afghanistan and I

UNICEF schoolA woman’s fascinating journey through an isolated culture.
Part One of Two.

by Clare Cushing.

In April and May of 2012, I backpacked across Afghanistan. As a woman and a foreigner, I anticipated facing difficulties, but I did not expect what I found there: an astonishingly beautiful landscape of mountains both snowy and green, an unequaled hospitality of bottomless cups of tea and familial introductions, and a variety of individuals, kind, generous, proud, and brave, in a nation too often dismissed for its violence.

I stayed a month in total, flying from Kabul to Pakistan the day before my Afghan visa was due to expire. During my time in Afghanistan, I traveled widely, covering 12 out of the 34 provinces. I did not come to Afghanistan as part of a tour group, an NGO, or the military. I came on my own, and made my way across the country with only a small pack on my back, my passport in hand, and …

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