So yesterday I got to head to the Embassy via the Rhino. The Rhino, by the way, is an uparmored bus that's operated by a FLE (Forward Logistics Element) and flanked by MRAP trucks (Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected).
Taking the Rhino meant being subject to the whims of the FLE's schedule, so even though the meeting was only an hour, the entire journey lasted 12 hours from door to door. I wound up getting an impromptu bus tour of Kabul and saw everything from the crowded bazaars to the King's and Queen's Palaces near Camp Julien and Camp Dubs.
One of the things that stood out was that once it started getting dark, there were no women to be found...anywhere. During the day, it's common to see women walking around Kabul -- sometimes in groups, sometimes alone...and ranging in dress from anywhere from a full burqa to the chador with face exposed to just a hijab. Sometimes within the confines of the 'Green Zone' you might see an Afghan woman walking around without even a hijab. Either way, I thought it was remarkable that after dark, even while the bazaars and streetcorners bustled with cars, bicycles, pedicabs, and endless pedestrians, there was literally not a single female in sight.
One other funny anecdote from the day...a huge portion of our daytime trip actually just involved Specialist Brown and me waiting for the Rhino to come pick us up to take us back to Camp Phoenix. We weren't sure exactly when it would come back to get us, so we played it safe and waited in front of the Embassy for what turned out to be hours.
That might sound frustrating to a lot of people, but remember, everything is relative. More than one State Dept. person came out to ask if we were okay/what were we doing, and we explained. When asked why our spirits were so high, we basically told them that neither of us had really just sat and relaxed like this in months. Yes, we were doing nothing, but there really was nothing we could do...moving meant taking the risk of missing the bus.
I've caught myself feeling less wound-up today, and I honestly think it has something to do with the fact that I got to decompress a bit and *just sit there* yesterday.