- Feb 18, 2010
Afghan road mixes beauty, madness and death
The curving, climbing, dropping, tiny guard-railed, high-altitude road was built by the West Germans in the 1960s and then promptly blown apart by the Soviets in the 1980s. The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in the 1990s didn't exactly fill the pot holes (they are rumored to be elephant size or larger), and while the U.S. incursion might be there to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, we're A) dropping a lot of bombs that tend to blow things up B) not focused on tarmac. Even if the road were Autobahn-smooth it's barely two-lanes wide and heavily trafficked by over-loaded semi-trucks.
There's also the fact that most Afghanies don't have anything even resembling a driver's license and are probably driving Ladas. Says local fish monger Mohammed Nabi, "I sit right here and watch people crash all day long. The course of history has proved that the Afghan people are bullies. This is why we cannot drive safely." Then there's our favorite part:
Safety first!The only note of caution is provided by children, who live in the impoverished villages nearby. Often as young as 4 or 5, they stand bedraggled at the bends, using flattened green Sprite bottles as flags, waving the drivers through when the way is clear.
[Source: New York Times | Image: RuckSackKruemel - Licensed Under CC2.0]