6
Dec
2015
8

Kicked from my accommodation in Kabul

Last night I received a text from the girl I was staying with, it was about 6pm and she asked if I could find somewhere else to stay. I’d been staying with her for the past four nights and her hospitality had been swell. I had been given my own room, with a massive bed and a bathroom, it was a little (a lot) cold because the building hadn’t turned the heating on yet (0 degrees outside), but sometimes she let me huddle by the heater in her room while we talked about careers, cultures and boys.

She wanted me out a night early because she had made plans for the next day and there was an issue with keys or something – I don’t know – but it came as a bit of a surprise for me. Well, a sudden inconvenience really, because it’s not like I could just pick up my bags and stroll down the street to find a hotel. I’m in Kabul, and as a solo female tourist with a 70-Litre backpack, I’ve had to rely on the kindness of strangers to avoid danger and kidnappings. As a woman in general, I was repeatedly told, you don’t just walk, or casually stroll la-dee-da; taking pictures and smelling the daisies. You move like you have a purpose; a place to go and you radiate with an I-belong-here confidence so you don’t get eaten alive.

afghan boys

afghan streets

My first experience walking alone was nerve racking because it was dusk and people are just so darned curious. Kids smiled and practiced their English on me, but I kind of felt like they made fun of me when I walked away because they laughed. Women passed sideways glances, and sometimes smiled which was nice, and men blatantly stared – and once kindly asked me if I was okay and needed help. I clearly looked lost.

When I received the abrupt text I was lucky enough to have been in the car of my local Afghan friend who has been guiding me around Kabul. He had just picked me up from the home of an Australian journalist who I’d only met because a mutual friend we’ve both met once had put us in contact. I went to her place because it’s not easy to just meet up for a coffee; aside from the security issues you have to consider every time you leave the house, there just aren’t really that many places that you’d feel relaxed enough to enjoy a coffee.

I’d only spent about half an hour with my journalist buddy, so I imagine she was pretty surprised to get my call 20 minutes after I left with an anxious request to please sleep on her couch. I had some options to stay with some Afghan men, but I’m finding that it’s too easy to leave the wrong impression with them, so I didn’t want to do that. I felt like I had to reach out to the only other female connection I really had. But despite her not knowing me from a bar of soap, she let me come back, and I slept on the couch by the fire and I thought ‘it’s all part of the experience’.

If you come to Kabul as a foreigner, I think it’s important to network before you get here. Speak to everyone and anyone you can find who has been or is in Kabul as a tourist or resident. You’ll find that everyone is actually very helpful, and I think it’s because it takes a certain type of person to go to a war zone and get involved in a culture so different from their own. There’s an entire community of expats over here, and everyone I’ve met so far is so down to earth and, well, fun! See! ?

cocktails

THE COCKTALIBAN PARTY

But now because I’m YOLO-ing, I’ve just booked a flight to go see my Afghan buddy in another city. You know, the guy who fell in love with me over night and I wrote about… (True love doesn’t care how drunk you are)… it’s all part of the experience.

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8 Responses

  1. Rae

    Jess what happened when you went to visit the Afganistan 21 year old guy who was in love with you?! Have you written a blog post for it yet? Your adventures and experiences are so brave!!!

  2. Sigh… again, sorry to have offended you. It was a story of how it happened; you asked me to leave the day before – amidst being annoyed at me for something silly. We then went out to a party together that same night and I’m pretty sure you said it was okay for me to stay until Saturday – so I arranged somewhere else for Saturday. Either way, it took me by surprise, it all turned out fine and that’s what the story was about. No one thinks you’re a bad guy, especially me, I thought you were cool – just unpredictable and hard to read. So stop being grumpy and blocky and deletey – it was a miscommunication that resulted in a story written about women and foreigners in Kabul.

  3. Neda

    I didnt tell you to leave in one house , I told you a day before , you just thought I am joking which is your problem . It is CS and I accepted you for four days. It is interesting that you just remmember the moment you had to leave from whole days you spend with me.
    Nice appreciating .

  4. Thanks Gabs… it was quite thrilling. Loved it so much and want to go back. Look forward to more adventures in Port Moresby… you must help me think up some out of comfort zone experiences to blog about 🙂

  5. Gaba

    Sounds a little nerve wracking yet thrilling and exciting, Living vicariously through you and your adventure. Happy travel s! x

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