Friday, August 23, 2013

S2L77: Across Afghanistan

March 26-27, 1977
Empty land. A few mud villages, including sleepy Ghazni.
Kandahar was unremarkable.
We stopped for camel rides at some nomad's tent.
The bus ran out of gas.
Source: Personal travel notes.

From 1977 03 23 Afghanistan

More after the jump.

In 1977, competition for influence in Afghanistan was being waged by the United States and the Soviet Union. It was the 20th Century's version of The Great Game. One of the visible effects of that rivalry is in the roads.

Central Afghanistan is mountainous. The best route across Afghanistan, from Kabul in the east to Herat in the west, is a big swing south through Kandahar. It's 720 miles on a two-lane highway across the Afghan desert, skirting the mountains which were always visible. Half of this national highway was constructed with foreign aid from the US; the other half was built by the USSR. In 1977, the American-built highway was noticeably better. Yay, us. Lot of good it's done us.

The highway mostly crosses desert, sometimes within sight of villages and towns but seldom passing right through them. Occasionally, a nomad encampment might be seen. Rest stops consist of the bus stopping along the highway, with men and women heading into the desert on opposite sides of the highway to relieve themselves, then traveling on.

It's hard to imagine that Ghazni, which in 1977 looked like a desperately poor city in the middle of the desert, was, a thousand years ago, the capital of Sultan Mahmud, the conqueror of central Asia from eastern Iran to western India.

Kandahar was for us an overnight stop. For as ancient as Kandahar is (Alexander the Great founded the city), there was remarkably little to see there in 1977 in the way of tourist sites.

Our last stop in Afghanistan was Herat, the major city in the west, near the border with Iran. More on Herat in the next installment.
From 1977 03 23 Afghanistan
From 1977 03 23 Afghanistan
From 1977 03 23 Afghanistan
From 1977 03 23 Afghanistan
From 1977 03 23 Afghanistan
From 1977 03 23 Afghanistan
From 1977 03 23 Afghanistan

All photos from Afghanistan can be seen on Google Photos

One of a continuing series.
Start: Around the World in 800 Days
Previous: Kabul, Afghanistan
Next: Herat, Afghanistan

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